September 11, 2020

Lakes Region Community College Opens Fall Semester with New Spaces & New Protocols

Lakes Region Community College opened its Fall semester August 31st with online, hybrid and on-campus learning opportunities, and some new and freshly refurbished lab spaces to provide hands-on training.

“Electrical students are happy to see our updated laboratory spaces, and Culinary students are loving the progress made in Phases 2 and 3 of the renovation and construction of our new kitchens, walk-ins {refrigerators}, and restaurant in our Culinary wing,” says Marsha Bourdon, LRCC’s Business Affairs Officer. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the semester.

Most serendipitous of all upgrades, however, may be those made to the school’s HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) plant, a project in motion even before the school recessed for COVID in the spring.

“With new boilers, duct work, and blowers, we’ve been able to conduct tests of airflow and adjust circulation to ensure adherence to air exchange guidelines while also maintaining comfortable temperatures for everyone on campus,” says Patrick Cate, VP of Academic & Student Affairs. “Our original goal of reducing fuel consumption and energy cost will be met, but, like everything else everywhere, it’s taken a backseat to the health of students and employees this year.”

Armed with guidance from the CDC, the NH Department of Health and Human Services, and the Community College System of New Hampshire, a team of administrators, plant maintenance staff and faculty worked tirelessly throughout the summer to re-open LRCC doors in ways that are “healthy, practical and safe,” says President Larissa Baia. “I’m proud to say that after one week of on-campus classes, things have gone very well, and we’re feeling great about seeing students back on campus.”

“Things have changed a little bit,” she said in a welcoming video address to students. “You’ll see that we’re doing social distancing, we’re all going to be wearing masks in all the classrooms, in the hallways, and in all of the buildings, but what hasn’t changed is our commitment to your education. We’re here to help, so when you have questions, please reach out…everybody here is here to help.

Kimberly Bean, who has worked in the school’s Financial Aid office for more than a decade, agrees that the campus looks different. “As much as I usually complain about the mad rush of students lining up outside the office door during a ‘normal’ semester, this is a little quiet for my taste.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m really happy to have students back and social distancing and all, but I miss having everyone come back to class at once,” she says, pointing to the major difference in this semester’s academic schedule. Most introductory courses met on campus the first week of September and are remote the next week, while upper level courses meet in person the second week and are remote the weeks before and after. “It’s just different,” she finishes.

The number of students and personnel on campus at any one time has been reduced to fewer than 50% of capacity. Before parking their vehicle, every person entering campus must attest that they exhibit no COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with the virus. In addition, their temperature must not be elevated, and they cannot have traveled outside New England in the past 14 days.

The school’s typical cleaning regimen has been stepped up to reflect the times. Additional crews have been hired from L & R Cleaning.  “I’m happy to be doing it,” says Dave Fornea, a sanitizing specialist hired to clean surfaces—doors, handles…any place a hand might touch– across campus every 1 ½ – 2 hours. A hazardous materials professional by training, he shows his artillery of cleaning supplies. “Bleach kills everything,” he says confidently.

First-year Nursing students Jessica Lloyd of Laconia and Chuck Weymouth of West Ossipee are impressed with how the whole campus is working together. Jessica notes, “I really like the security checkpoint” she says, and “how they have people coming into the classroom at random times to make sure we’re far enough apart.”

Chuck adds, “They’re having us leave the room in the middle of long classes, so the air can exchange for at least 30 minutes…it’s just the new normal. I don’t think the school could be doing any more with their precautions.”

Jessica crosses her fingers. “We’re just hopeful that all this will let us stay on campus and not have to go remote.”

The school has worked hard to make onsite instruction possible for the fall. Joyce Larson, Director of Enrollment Management and Onboarding, says. While “there’s been a marked increase in enrollment in our online courses this semester, and I think many of our professors are excited to see how they can teach online in new and engaging ways, it’s hard to substitute the hands-on training that goes along with programs like Nursing, Automotive, Advanced Manufacturing, and Marine Technologies. And some people just need that human component in learning. We’re teaming together to keep the campus clean and safe for everyone. Mask wearing, social distancing, good hand hygiene, and health screenings to keep people home who may feel sick… we are doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission.”

Lakes Region Community College offers more than 40 educational programs and workforce training for business and industry. Transfer agreements with a variety of regional four-year colleges allow students to receive their Associate’s degree at an affordable community college, and earn a Bachelor’s at a four-year school. Lakes Region Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire. New classes start September 28th, and more than $1 million in scholarships remains available this fall on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit  or visit LRCC’s Virtual Open House at

Lakes Region Community College nursing students Chuck Weymouth and Jessica Lloyd enjoyed masked conversation and socially-distanced lunch on the school’s terrazza Thursday. They welcomed the sunshine during a prescribed 30-minute break that allows complete air exchange in their classroom.