COVID-19 Update: Help is on the way | Student Information and Resources

Dear Students, 

I am checking in on you to share that your ACC Student Support Services Teams are working hard to implement remote services that will help you complete what you started. I know this extended closure has left many of you wondering “can I do this?” 

I assure you, our faculty and staff have asked themselves that very same question. They are digging deep to provide support services to help you cross the finish line. Whether you need technology resources, food support, or tutoring, advising, and testing -- a virtual environment can feel challenging, but we’re not giving up. I challenge you to stick with us during this time. While our campuses are currently closed, learning and opportunity are still very much open and available to you.

Starting March 30, you’ll be able to communicate with your favorite student support personnel. I know many of you are looking forward to that. In light of Dr. Rhodes’ message sent to employees and students yesterday, I want to also keep you updated on a few items regarding:

  • campus status & student support
  • technology/internet resources & online testing
  • food resources
  • Student Emergency Fund

Campus Status & Student Support
Yesterday’s message from the president echoed the leadership of the City of Austin and Travis and Williamson counties. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, our campuses will continue to be closed to students and the public through April 13 or until further notice.

We understand decisions like these come with unintended consequences. Some students may not have access to needed technology, food, employment, and many other important needs to be successful. No later than Friday, you can expect an updated web page explaining how to access services and community resources critical to your success. In the interim, we ask that you contact 211. A United Way representative will help connect you to community providers.

Technology Access
If you currently do not have a personal computer, laptop, or tablet and were unable to complete the Student Technology Access Form sent earlier this week, please complete it as soon as possible. We are assembling a technology distribution process to help our students who have no access to the tools they need to finish strong. Please complete the Student Technology Access Form by Tuesday, March 31, at 11:59 p.m. for priority consideration. A member of our team will be in contact with you for the next steps. Please keep in mind, we do have limited resources.

Internet Connection
To be successful in your courses, we recommend a minimum bandwidth of 600 kbps for both upload and download speed. Most providers should offer basic packages that exceed this amount. If users are unable to obtain these speeds, they should not worry. Most applications and products will work just fine at slower speeds. This recommendation is a speed that will provide an optimal experience across all applications. If you do not currently have internet, some providers may offer special deals, including free access for a limited time:

Many wireless companies are providing assistance as well:

  • Sprint and T-Mobile are making all data plans unlimited for the next 60 days and increasing mobile hotspot usage.
  • Verizon has automatically added a 15 Gigabytes per month hotspot allowance for all customers.
  • AT&T will waive any data overage charges as long as the customer contacts them and submits a request.

Please contact your internet and/or cell provider to learn more about additional assistance they may be providing and how to turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot.

Online Testing
We have seen a lot of student questions around testing centers. Because our campuses are closed to students and the public, so are our testing centers. Therefore, all testing will be moving online. While we are still working out some items, here’s what I can currently share with confidence.

Testing for online courses may include Respondus testing at home and/or ProctorU third party remote testing. Please check your class Blackboard and contact your professor for details on how your course exams will be offered.

Consult the ACC ProctorU page for guidance on how to request testing if your professor requires you to use ProctorU for testing. Ensure that you schedule your test at least 72 hours in advance. 

Your professor will provide you with instructions on how to download and install the Respondus Lockdown browser or monitor if  required for testing. Respondus Monitor requires Lockdown Browser and a webcam for online exams -- an app for both is available for iPad

ACCelerators
Like our Testing Centers, the ACCelerators will also be closed. However, ACCelerator staff are providing the following services: ACC scholarship application assistance, registration assistance, and student support.  

To schedule an appointment, email: Cynthia Brown cynthia.brown@austincc.edu, M’Liss Moore mliss.moore@austincc.edu, Cecilia Padilla cpadill2@austincc.edu.

Student Food Resource
We know that food is an immediate need for many. As you await a more comprehensive list of resources, I want to share that Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area has extended their weekly distribution of "meal & snack kits" to ACC students and their families starting Thursday, March 27. Each shelf-stable meal kit includes enough protein, vegetables, milk, and juice for 3 small meals and 5 snacks. To receive the kits, arrive at any of the 8 area locations and you’ll receive guidance on how to pick-up meal kits while maintaining COVID-19 precautions. ACC students and their family members will not be required to show identification. Please see the attachment for additional information. Another close partner is Central Texas Foodbank; they currently have a tool that allows you to Find Food Now.

If you have a child enrolled in local school districts, here are two helpful resources to determine if your child’s school district is participating in breakfast or lunch distribution:

Student Emergency Fund
As an ACC student you may be eligible to apply for emergency aid. The college’s Student Emergency Fund can help you with unanticipated financial emergencies. Unsure if you qualify for assistance? Please visit the Student Emergency Fund webpage or email us at sef@austincc.edu to arrange a time to discuss prior to submitting your request. 

Lastly, to best communicate with you, I’d like you to complete a few action items:

  1. Please remember that ACC’s official communication method with you is through your ACCmail (student email). It would be a good idea to set up email notifications on your smartphone. If you do not have a smartphone, please stay actively engaged by accessing the internet to check austincc.edu/coronavirus daily.
  2. Also, take this moment to review and update your personal and emergency contact information in MyACC.

I want to thank you for your patience and understanding during these uncertain times. Stay strong, Riverbats! Don’t give up, Just a few more weeks and you will be one semester closer to your end goal. We’ll get through this together. 

Sincerely,
Shasta Buchanan, Ed.D
Vice President, Student Affairs
Austin Community College District