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By Hillary Fuller

Despite opening during a pandemic, Colorado Mountain College Salida had a great semester.

From left, CMC Salida students Kaitlyn Garcia and Paityn Mills were two of many locals who took biology as well as other classes in Salida during fall semester.

During the fall 2020 term, CMC Salida saw enrollment levels beyond expectation for credit, non-credit and concurrent enrollment courses. CMC’s newest location served 178 students in the fall 2020 semester.

This fall CMC Salida was able to offer EMT, accounting, business and education classes, as well as nursing prerequisites.

EMT class

EMT and paramedic programs are one of many certification and degree programs now available in Salida, in addition to a range of non-credit community classes.

In November 2019 voters overwhelmingly chose to annex Salida and Poncha Springs into CMC’s district, creating the college’s newest campus. Now, locals who live within Salida School District boundaries pay the college’s low in-district tuition rates.

Amy Dennis, assistant dean of student affairs at CMC Salida, said, “I am very pleased and excited about how the fall has gone, given all the challenges. CMC was able to ramp up credit, non-credit, and concurrent enrollment offerings, as well as hire new adjunct faculty to teach classes

“It has been amazing to watch course offerings and enrollment grow, despite the pandemic,” she added.

The fall concurrent enrollment courses with Salida High School served 89 students, in large part due to a strong partnership with the school district, more Salida High School teachers being credentialed to teach concurrent enrollment classes and a wider variety of courses being offered at the high school, such as a business internship.

“More concurrent enrollment courses are being offered during traditional school hours, making it easier for high school students to attend,” said Rob Simpson, associate dean of academic and student services in Salida.

CMC Salida was able to hire one full-time faculty and four full-time staff, and installed new video conferencing systems at the Kesner building, the Salida School District building that also holds classes for Colorado Mountain College. Community education (non-credit) offerings included courses in geology, screenwriting, avalanche awareness, backpacking, accounting for business and managing stress during the pandemic.

While it has been hard to make the student connection this semester with COVID-19, Dennis said, “Students have been helpful, flexible, adaptable and understanding. They have been so great at following the Five Commitments and reaching out for help when they need it.”

Students and employees have pledged to follow The Five Commitments to Containment: wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, keeping six feet of physical distance from others, staying home when sick and getting a COVID-19 test if experiencing symptoms.

“In the future, Colorado Mountain College would like to build a physical campus in Salida but we want to be very thoughtful about community needs,” said Rachel Pokrandt, CMC vice president and campus dean for Leadville and Salida. “We want to involve community partners to make sure that whatever is built serves the community as a whole.”

To learn more about CMC Salida, feel free to stop by the campus’s administrative offices at 202 North F Street – and be sure to wear your mask.

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