Austin Community College (ACC) is planning for the fall semester. A cross section of the college — including faculty, student support services, IT, Administration, and more — are working together to identify how to safely resume teaching, learning, and working.
"We want to ensure that we don't invite folks back to campus until we can assure their health and safety with greater confidence," says Dr. Charles Cook, provost and executive vice president of Student Affairs.
Currently, ACC has decided to maintain most of its curriculum and services online for the summer, with the exception of those programs that require face-to-face instruction — such as Health Sciences and various workforce programs — which could resume in the second summer session starting July 6.
"We are busily working on our fall schedule," says Dr. Cook. "Classes will still be primarily online, especially for the first half of the fall semester. Like everyone, we will have to monitor safety conditions continuously."
The President's Cabinet is in daily communication to explore when and how it might be safe for faculty, staff, and students to return to campus physically. They monitor local, state, and national health and safety websites and engage in weekly discussions with city and county officials, as well as partner school districts and universities.
Administrators have also been listening to the concerns of faculty and staff through regular communications with employee associations and conducted several student surveys to learn more about challenges students faced in remote learning and identify new ways the college can support students.
To prepare for the return to campus, the college created a special "Return-to-Campus" committee to detail health and safety measures, which would probably take place in phases.
The first phase would be limited access to areas for programs least-suitable for online instruction. The committee will take into account all of the necessary precautions, including social distancing, face coverings and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and cleaning procedures.
"We will never return to a former environment whereby students had to come to campus physically for most of their needs," says Dr. Cook. "We'll continue to improve the quantity as well as the quality of what we can offer online."