Can Colleges Learn Safe This Fall?

8:00 AM, Jun 05, 2020
LCC

Planning for college is a turning point in life. For many, it means looking toward the future with hope as they prepare to work hard for a bright future. Planning for college during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, presents challenges most have never considered before.

For many questioning the safety of college this fall – and the cost of a reduced or nonexistent on-campus experience – community college is the answer. Locally, Lansing Community College (LCC) has been working on plans to keep students learning safely and without interruption since the crisis began in March.

When will students be able to live on campus? When will it be safe to attend class in person? How will it be possible to hold classes if social distancing is required? Across the country, administrators and faculty are looking for answers to one essential question: How can students learn safe?

According to the New York Times, college and university officials are preparing for a future that includes fever checks at classroom doors and dorms cordoned off specifically to serve as COVID-19 quarantine housing for students who either have, or have been exposed to, COVID-19.

Concerns over testing, social distancing and keeping students healthy and safe are compounded by the high costs of college around the country. According to CollegeBoard, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing guidance for college students and their families, the average total cost for a four-year college (with room and board, etc.) is between $26,000 and $54,000 per year.

First, LCC addressed the needs of students and developed two online options – traditional and real-time online –allowing students to finish spring semester work and to allow summer courses to operate during the statewide stay-at-home order. Second, the college began developing options for fall semester, which will include face-to-face options for classes that require in-person instruction.

“We’re using a hybrid designation right now, which allows us to do some face-to-face classes and, if we need to, we can go online,” said LCC Provost Sally Welch. “We’re working to refit our campus spaces with safety in mind. It’s a challenge, but one that addresses the best path forward to keep everyone safe.”

LCC fall registration is open now. Students who start at LCC and transfer to four-year colleges and universities often save between $13,000 to $30,000 on bachelor degree programs.

In addition to academic models designed to keep students learning in affordable, career-driven programs during quarantine, LCC has adjusted seating in classrooms, labs, conferences center rooms and other shared spaces to ensure social distancing continues safely once face-to-face instruction resumes. In order to help prevent a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, LCC has slated necessary face-to-face instruction to begin in October.

“Don’t stop your education – keep it going,” Welch said. “LCC makes it possible stay safe while putting your best foot forward, even during COVID-19.”

LCC has the ability to adapt and overcome in times of crisis because it exists to serve and educate students. Four-year colleges must plan for students packed in dorms, lecture halls and stadiums, and may not be able to do with the detailed care safe social distancing requires. At LCC, student’s success and safety is the most important thing.

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