COVID-19 Brings Online Instruction, Alternative Service Options

March 21, 2020

For some Wayne Community College students, learning will look very different when it resumes Monday, March 23. For others, it will be class as usual.

Close to 40 percent of WCC’s college-credit offerings were already online. As of March 23, all students will be experiencing alternative instruction methods as the college eliminates face-to-face course delivery.

The college had suspended instruction from March 16 through March 22, 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19. That week-long break gave instructors time to move classes online and communicate with their students about how their classes would proceed.

“I feel a calm among the faculty,” said Dr. Patty Pfeiffer, WCC vice president of academic and student services. “Instructors are being as creative as they can be. I really feel they are embracing the challenge.”

Most college-credit courses and Transitional Programs for College and Career (Adult High School, High School Equivalency, Adult Basic Education, and English as a Second Language) have been “migrated” to online platforms.

Most Workforce Continuing Education (WCE) courses could not be converted to an e-learning format. Over the last week, personnel contacted the more than 4,000 WCE students to discuss their courses.

“I am proud of the work that Workforce Continuing Education faculty and staff have done to reach out to our students and provide them with updates about their education and training,” said WCC Associate Vice President for Workforce Continuing Education Services Renita Allen Dawson. “Unfortunately, the majority of courses offered in Workforce require face-to-face instruction and therefore cannot be transferred to an online format.”

WCE’s ed2go online courses are still an option. The program provides hundreds of career-related and personal enrichment courses. They are offered in eight-week sessions, both instructor-led and self-paced, and result in 2.4 Continuing Education Units. For go more information on ed2go courses, go to the WCE Online Courses webpage.

Formal guidance from the North Carolina Community College System provides for a few exceptions to seated-class ban “to accommodate the critical need for public safety and public health services in response to this crisis.” WCC is working on how to provide for those exceptions, which include “law enforcement training, fire training, emergency medical and rescue training, nursing, or other training specifically requested by public safety and public health response agencies, including the military.”

WCC Financial Aid Administrative Assistant April Gray communicates with a student via email while a sign on the counter reminds visitors about social distancing.

We’re Open but Keep Your Distance

Getting students back into class was the first hurdle. Determining what form services will take was the next priority.

The college is still open but the public is asked to avoid coming to campus if possible.

“In most cases, business with the college can be conducted online or over the phone,” WCC Public Information Officer Tara Humphries emphasized. “That is the way we would prefer that everyone interact with us.”

When in-person interaction is necessary, the college is maintaining social distancing standards and appropriate sanitation practices.

Departments like Admissions and Records, Financial Aid, and Career and College Promise are available during regular business hours, all with virtual options.

Go to the Counseling Services webpage to get information about setting up virtual or phone appointments with specific counselors.

“Counseling Services are still going to be provided but it is in the best interest of all to not meet face-to-face,” said Joanna Morrisette, associate vice president for academic and student services. “We want to save the student the trip and everyone the exposure.”

Placement testing for admission is on hold at this point, except for testing for Allied Health programs.

To accommodate for disruption caused by COVID-19, the application deadlines for WCC Allied Health limited-admission programs have been extended to April 9 for Associate Degree Nursing and Dental Hygiene and May 7 for Medical Assisting, Medical Laboratory Technology, Pharmacy Technology, Dental Assisting, and Practical Nursing. More information is available on the Allied Health Limited Programs webpage.

The WCC bookstore will be open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily but also offers services online. Follett, the bookstore operator, is providing several free services to WCC students that can be accessed on that website.

Recognizing that some WCC students may not have access to a computer or internet service at their homes, the college’s Open Computer Lab will maintain normal hours. The room has been rearranged to accommodate just 10 students and a stringent cleaning regimen has been instituted.

The college library will also be open during its regular hours for those who need to use its computers or to access internet with their own devices. Students are encouraged to use the library’s online resources remotely rather than coming to the campus.

Tutoring through the college’s Academic Skills Center and its writing, math, and accounting/business labs is now only available virtually. The “Ask Billy” service will be comparable to face-to-face tutoring and can be conducted with chat, voice, and video, said Center Director Brandy Daingerfield.

Everything Is Fluid

This is the plan for March 23-27, said Humphries.

“Everything is fluid. As the situation changes, so do college operations and procedures. All of this may change tomorrow,” Humphries said. “Updates are posted daily on the college’s webpage and notice of changes is emailed to students. Individuals can always call 919-739-5151 to check on how the services they need are being handled.”

As the situation develops, decisions will be made about how the academic year will progress and about events like graduation ceremonies. “There are certain things that will not be able to take place,” said Pfeiffer, “but we are not able to make those decisions right now. We don’t have all of the answers.”

“We are making every effort to avoid further disruption to our students’ academic progress while we endeavor to preserve everyone’s health,” Humphries said. “For all of us in the college family, this is uncharted territory. Faculty and staff share students’ apprehension. We are going to get through this together.”

Wayne Community College is a public, learning-centered institution with an open-door admission policy located in Goldsboro, N.C. As it works to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, the college serves 11,000 individuals annually as well as businesses, industry, and community organizations with high quality, affordable, accessible learning opportunities, including more than 140 college credit programs. WCC’s mission is to meet the educational, training, and cultural needs of the communities it serves.

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