Officials reinventing formal education
By Shauna Stocken
Editor in Chief
As universities and colleges closed across the country in March, LCC was able to keep many of its employees working from remote locations.
According to an email sent April 21 by LCC President Dr. Brent Knight, during the COVID-19 pandemic, employee wages will continue through May 15. This also includes those who cannot work due to illness or caretaking responsibilities.
“I am working from home; really, not much about the job has changed,” said Carrie Gregg, director of the Academic Success Coaches at LCC. “The mode of delivery has changed. We no longer do one-on-one appointments right now. But the success coaches continue to meet with students through the computer, texting and phone calls.”
Since the college moved to fully online learning, Gregg said the department has continued to help those students with established success-coach relationships. New students were contacted regarding individual issues with the online transition.
“One of the very first things that we did when we went remote was develop a student-need survey,” Gregg said. “We put that survey on the D2L homepage in the announcements, on our webpage, and also in the newsfeed on LCC.
“Really, it was a quick way to see what students needed and for us to get them directly to the department that they needed support from.”
According to Gregg, the survey helped the college prepare for students’ unique needs, troubleshoot technology concerns and helped prepare the college for the coming academic semesters.
“Enrollment might look different now, but we don’t expect that it will decrease,” she said. “It will just look a little different.”
While online-only classes are set for the summer semester, Knight addressed in his April 21 email his best guesses for how the fall semester will unfold in response to the pandemic:
“The first plan is similar to what we typically offer for a fall term, with many face-to-face courses. But, for today, that path is not certain,” Knight stated.
“Another plan is to start online, and convert many classes to face-to-face when and if that is possible. That could work for many of our general education offerings where we have multiple sections. Simultaneously, some students could elect to complete the term in their online section rather than switch to face-to-face format. However, this option would not work for courses that have critical hands-on requirements. If we could not return to campus, those courses would have to be paused.”
He continued: “When and if face-to-face is possible, we could also start a term in the fall after our typical start date and offer accelerated courses. In other words, especially for technical careers, we could begin a term Oct. 1 and complete prior to Dec. 25.”
According to Knight, which method the college will implement will depend on the reliability of health testing in the future, a plan for the use of personal and protective equipment, clean surfaces and other possible safeguards before reopening.
“I would encourage students just to hang in there,” Gregg said. “The college is being very accommodating with course work, faculty is being very accommodating and supportive to students to help them complete (classes).
“If a pass/fail grade isn’t appropriate for a student, maybe an incomplete is appropriate, and then they extended the withdraw date up until two days before the end of the semester.”
To respond to student and faculty concerns with technology, LCC purchased wireless Jetpack internet connection devices and are loaning them, as well as laptop computers, to those currently in need.
“We identified that we still had a pocket of students who could not get Wi-Fi,” Gregg said. “Then Dr. Knight moved forward with getting Jetpacks for both employees and students. So, the first batch came in and we distributed those, and I think the second batch came on the 20th (of April) and so we’ve reached out to more students as well.
“For laptops, those are definitely at (Police and) Public Safety, so (students) can just go and pick those up. For Jetpacks, I would encourage a student to reach out to their success coach first. A lot of times we can troubleshoot that situation before we get to the point of needing a Jetpack.”
Gregg encouraged the LCC community to shelter in place and use this time to try an online course, or finish a degree they may be close to finishing.
“We know at LCC that high school seniors that are graduating this year didn’t get the end to their senior year that they deserve to have,” Gregg said. “So we’re really hoping we can help them achieve the beginning to their college career that will be just as exciting.”