College of the Ozarks staff, faculty cover essential tasks, care for farms

COLLEGE OF THE OZARKS, MO.-- Students are not on campus at College of the Ozarks. They're staying home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. That means a lot of work has to be done without them. Staff are now doing jobs that students usually do, like farming and landscaping.

"I am working on the dairy farm," Admissions Representative Bailey Vandiver said. "I definitely wanted to help out in any way I could."

Vandiver usually works in the college's admission's office. However, now, she's among about 30 College of the Ozarks staff members who are working other jobs to keep campus essentials up and running.

"Our farming operations, cafeteria, power plant, custodial, landscaping. Then, a few other odds and ends that we have to keep going on a day to day basis, with or without students," Dean of Work Bryan Cizek said.

Typically, there are about 1,500 students total on the campus, each doing a different job. Right now, they're staying home and staying healthy and college leaders say they're not sure when the students will return.

However, until students come back, cows must be fed and stalls must be scooped.

"I'm cleaning out the free stall barn and refilling the stalls," Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator Paul Baker said.

The change is putting staff in students' boots.

"Didn't grow up on a farm, didn't really grow up around a farm. This is really the only farm I've been on before," Baker said.

The staff says it's giving them a new appreciation for the work students do everyday.

"I believe they're phenomenal students and I'm amazed at the commitment and dedication it takes to get up at 4 a.m. every morning and do this work," Baker said.

"It's been neat to see how hard they work and how hard we are having to work to maintain the level of proficiency," Cizek said.

They say it's times like now when it takes everyone, going a little above the call of duty.

"If somebody is down in the family, you're not going to let the whole operation fall apart," Vandiver said. "Really, doing our part of make sure the world keeps on turning."

College of the Ozarks is currently closed to the public. So, places like the Keeter Center and the stained glass and candle shop are also closed.

Students will begin online instruction on Monday.