JCC Releases Schedule For Returning To Campus
The faculty, students and support staff of Jamestown Community College now have an approved schedule in place for the start of the 2020 fall semester, after months of planning on how best to deal with concerns of COVID-19.
The full academic calendar can now be found at sunyjcc.edu/programs/academic-resources for the fall semester, which begins on Aug. 19 with the return of faculty to campus.
Monday, Aug. 24, will be the first day of classes, and there will be a fall Thanksgiving break, Nov. 23-29. Dec. 16 will be the last day of classes, and finals will be held Dec. 17-18.
The reopening plan was approved this week for certification by the State University of New York, and has been designed to allow flexibility in the future in the event that COVID-19 restrictions change.
JCC President Dr. Daniel DeMarte said that the plan allows for approximately 25-33% of students to return to campus for course work that necessitates hands-on learning, including lab work and manufacturing.
With the majority of courses being shifted online through programs like Zoom, there is now a general divide between curriculums on a set schedule and those that can be completed with more flexibility.
“We either offer courses on a set schedule, or students can complete them at their own pace, those self-disciplined courses,” DeMarte said. “The self-disciplined, that is the online. We talk about online, that is where there is an instructor but there is no set schedule. Students can go at their own pace, the schedule is more open-ended. Classes for us, basically fall into those two categories. Not on a schedule, asynchronous, on a schedule, synchronous. On that synchronous side, students who are in lab courses, we’re going to be bringing them back on (campus). That is roughly 50-60 sessions of welding, HVAC, nursing. Those courses where they have to have access to equipment, or they’ve got to be in a facility in order to complete the courses. We’ll bring them back on, they’ll follow social distancing protocols.”
Students returning to campus for their work will check in with an app, which will allow administrators to track a number of important public health data.
“They will check in daily using an app that SUNY provided us,” DeMarte said. “So we’ll ask them for their temperature, where they have been–some basic questions. They’ll have to do that before they come onto campus every day. That gets dumped into a database. We’ll screen it, make sure everything looks good, and then we go.”
DeMarte said he expects there to be a wide range of academic plans put in place at institutions around the country, with differing levels of in-person learning permitted. While some colleges may choose to reopen in a significant way, others may shift heavily in favor of online learning if possible. JCC’s approach lies in the middle of the spectrum.
In a normal semester, students would apply for 340 spots in JCC’s residence halls. For the fall semester, applications are being taken for 250 vacancies.
“The overarching message is, this is not going to be a typical fall semester as a residence hall student on campus,” DeMarte said. “Students need to know if they are going to come on campus to live in the residence halls, it’s not going to be normal. However, we are still going to provide services that we should provide and we can provide. There will be meals, but they won’t look the same because we have to distance ourselves. We’ll offer the library and tutoring. We’ll probably open up the (physical education) building for limited use. All of it limited, but at least it gives those students who want to be in the residence halls something to do while they are here.”
Many things remain to be seen when it comes to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s fall season.
“They made the decision a week and a half or so ago that yes, we can have a season,” DeMarte said. “Now it becomes a regional decision, the colleges in our region have been discussing it ever since. Some are making the call they are not going to have a fall season, some are on the fence on whether or not they want to have one, and some have said yes. We’re in the category that would like to have a fall season, but we are now dependent on their being enough teams (participating) to say that we can actually have that fall season.”
The Jayhawks participate with other NJCAA colleges from around New York state, but also against competition from Pennsylvania and Ohio. With interstate travel restrictions coming into play, the fall sports season could see further disruption.
More information on the fall athletic schedule could be forthcoming this month.
The questions that surround a return to athletic competition also include another important group of JCC’s student body–international students.
DeMarte explained that the college has met its increased goals for international enrollment over the past several years, hosting over 50 students from around the globe last semester with plans to increase that to 75 this fall.
With various travel restrictions in place, international students can be involved in many different situations as a result of COVID-19. Many remain stuck behind travel barriers, both in the US and their home countries.
LEARNING AS WE GO
During the implementation of these unprecedented changes, administrative staff have cooperated with students in a number of different ways. One key area of support during the transition to online learning has been to help students with information technology (IT) issues. Vice President of Student Affairs Kirk Young said that JCC’s technical staff aided students during the spring semester through increasing access to laptop computers, and continues to receive feedback.
“The return feedback that I got from students was that they appreciated the changes,” Young said. “That the faculty did everything they could to maintain contact and communication with their students.”
In addition to continually updating online resources for the student body, JCC staff has also been working on surveys to measure student success during the transition.
“We received feedback that there were some students who hadn’t engaged, who hadn’t logged onto their course or whatever through that transition, and so we called every one of them and had a conversation with those students,” Young said. “We had many students who needed IT support, and we provided that for them, and we will be providing that type of support throughout this fall semester.”