RCC plans calculated comeback for fall semesterJul 22, 2020
WENTWORTH – Rockingham Community College has put into place its plan for the fall semester, paying close attention to the health and safety of its students and employees in light of COVID-19. Classes begin on Monday, Aug. 17, with a majority offered online.
“Like many community college campuses in North Carolina and nationwide, we have adjusted the fall academic course schedule to reduce opportunities for transmission of the COVID-19 virus and created a safe environment for learning,” said Sheila Regan, vice president for Academic Affairs. “Coming back to campus will feel different. Faculty and staff may work and act a little differently, but what will not be different is our commitment to serving students, to providing access to quality education, to providing academic, and technology support services aimed at helping students reach their academic goals.”
RCC will utilize several models of instruction for the fall semester. Very few programs will meet face-to-face. Hybrid/blended instruction includes face-to-face classes plus online delivery of information.
Most classes will be offered online, and require students either to log in at specific times for “live” instruction with their instructor (synchronous), or to log in on their own time and then turn in assignments by certain dates (asynchronous).
Lori Murphy, department chair of Math and Learning Support Service and assistant professor of mathematics, said RCC used the synchronous model at the end of the spring semester, when classes rapidly shifted online. Students responded well to the format.
According to Celeste Allis, dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of mathematics, some science classes will be offered in both online formats, but there will be some hands-on labs on campus, where the classes will have fewer students. The labs will have safety protocols in place, like Plexiglas between student stations, free masks, and extended time between sessions so they can be cleaned properly.
“We just felt like students need some of that hands-on experience in the science labs and we have a couple of renovated spaces in the last year that are just fabulous and we hated to not use the opportunity to experience the lab settings with beakers and Bunsen burners and so on,” she said. “We also did increase the number of online sessions this fall, knowing it may not be comfortable coming back to campus.”
For some academic programs, a transition from traditional face-to-face to online learning is an easy one; however, for others it is not. For instance, health science students need to engage in patient simulation, and applied technical students need to use machining lathes, programmable logic controllers, and other equipment.
Support resources are also virtual, as RCC continues to offer free 24/7 tutoring services through two online platforms. There are “drop-in” times available, or students can schedule one-on-one sessions. They can also drop off papers and questions and return later for feedback.
For those needing the library, it now has a capacity of 24 students, and social distancing and masks are required. Computers have been moved to create distance between stations. Many resources and assistance are available online. Another small computer lab is available in the Advanced Technologies building’s Testing Center.
Full-time students can also check out laptops from the library for the semester.
In what is termed as “a calculated comeback,” RCC continues taking measures to provide an exceptional education while protecting the health of the college community.
Employees and students are required to wear face masks when indoors. Every restroom on campus is limited to two occupants at a time, and directions for recommended 20-second handwashing are posted at the sinks. Water fountain use is restricted, signs promoting healthy practices stand in building lobbies, and stairwells have been designated as one-way.
Hand sanitizer is available in all buildings and protective shields or barriers have been installed in most high-traffic, customer-service areas.
In addition, outside organizations are not allowed to hold meetings or events on campus.
The College has developed enhanced cleaning protocols and adjusted the work day of its maintenance staff, and has put into place procedures for potential COVID-19 cases on campus.
RCC remains open to serve students, and anticipates many new students whose university plans for fall have changed or may be uncertain. Students enrolled here can pursue a certificate, diploma or two-year associate degree – which is very affordable – or can transfer many course credits to their university.
The College also has a reverse transfer program, where a university credits can transfer to RCC if students want to finish their education close to home.
To enroll in fall classes, call 336-342-4261 ext. 2333 or visit www.rockinghamcc.edu/apply-now.
Gerri Hunt is director of public information at Rockingham Community College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-342-4261 ext. 2170.