GCC expects majority of classes to be offered remotely this fall

  • Greenfield Community College will offer a majority of its classes remotely during the fall semester, though there are courses that will require periodic in-person instruction. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/1/2020 6:17:05 PM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College (GCC) won’t return to full in-person classes anytime soon.

According to GCC Chief Learning Officer Mary Ellen Fydenkevez, GCC will offer a majority of its classes remotely during the fall semester, though there are courses that will require periodic in-person instruction.

Like many colleges and universities across the country, GCC is monitoring the trajectory of COVID-19 and the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state Department of Public Health (DPH) and Gov. Charlie Baker.

“Given the concerns around a possible second spread, implications of the flu season and the fact that we are a commuter campus, GCC is planning to have the majority of courses being offered remotely,” Fydenkevez said.

Courses that require some level of in-person instruction include those in the health and science. Fydenkevez said the region continues to experience a shortage in health care workers, and the college wants to do its part to educate those aspiring to work in those professions.

“Across our sector, we are finding creative solutions to health science classes and certain labs,” she said. “These are the types of classes that we will run using a hybrid model. In other cases, we will mail lab kits to students as we did in the spring.”

The school is using information from the CDC and DPH to develop protocols for courses that require a mix of in-person and remote instruction. Fydenkevez said she expects these protocols to be ready for the classes in September.

Additionally, as summer courses continue, and in preparation for the fall, GCC will offer professional development for faculty and staff members, and remote learning boot camps for students.

“Excellence in teaching and learning is our mission,” Fydenkevez said. “Unlike the spring semester, we now have several months to plan for the fall.”

With many universities announcing plans for remote education in the fall, high school students who may have looked forward to campus life far away from their hometowns are now weighing their options. Some have considered deferring their dream school acceptance to save money, and instead start remote classes with their local community colleges.

Anna Berry, chief student affairs officer at GCC, noted that many high school seniors have not yet graduated, and most four-year colleges have not announced their plans for the fall. She said these factors have left soon-to-be graduates in a holding pattern.

“We are hearing from more and more of these students and their parents who are interested in seeking alternatives to a residential campus experience,” Berry said.

She said community colleges also see increases in enrollment when there’s an economic downturn.

“We are certainly in one now, and we have seen an increase in inquiries from people who are unemployed and seeking to update their skills or gain new ones,” Berry said. “We see ourselves as part of the solution to reinvigorating the workforce in our region.”

Fydenkevez said students looking to finish their first two years of college with GCC will have ample four-year options locally to complete their undergraduate degrees. The college has existing partnerships with public and private institutions in Western Massachusetts throughout the state and in other states.

GCC is currently enrolling students for the fall semester, which starts in September. Registration is open through the end of August.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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