By Dr. D. Galen DeHay, President, Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, along with colleges and universities nationwide, is responding to an unprecedented situation as COVID-19 spreads across the U.S.
The threat of this disease is not only requiring us to shift our classroom-based spring course offerings to an online format in rapid-fire fashion, it is also requiring us to completely rethink how we provide support to the most vulnerable students in our population, particularly first-generation college students and those from economically disadvantaged situations.
Tri-County students, like others across the nation, were halfway through the semester when this national health crisis hit. While disruptive and inconvenient to all college students, for many of our students the impact is far more serious. Students who did not choose online learning are working to adapt to this format. Some don’t have the equipment and WiFi access that many of us take for granted. Worse, many are facing loss of wages, food insecurity, isolation, and fear during this difficult time.
We can’t allow this crisis to derail their efforts; too much is at stake for too many students and we are determined not to let them down.
The dedication of our entire team in response to this extraordinary circumstance is nothing short of remarkable. Faculty have been working long hours to convert their courses to an online format and to help us make the best decisions for the well-being of our students. Staff have designed new ways to connect and continue relationships with students remotely during this uncertain time, providing much-needed support. Our administration, while managing the immediate crisis, remains focused on the future to ensure stability and continuity in the face of the unknown.
In every decision we have made during these hectic weeks, we have remained committed to those most vulnerable while at the same time maintaining our academic integrity and providing a high-quality learning experience online. We also are dedicated to maintaining the important sense of community we have always shared among faculty, staff, and students even as we are physically separated.
There are many questions we are currently working to answer, such as how our students will be able to complete clinicals and technical lab requirements for the semester. We face future enrollment uncertainties, potential budgetary impacts, and other things yet unknown. This remains a time of uncertainty due to the swiftly changing nature of this situation, and our only choice is to continually work through each issue and anticipate potential scenarios yet unknown.
Doubtless changes to our world will linger after this virus subsides, and things will never return to past ways of being. We will learn from our mistakes and from what we have done right. I am confident we will be stronger and better on the other side.
Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and support as we continue to fulfill our educational and workforce development mission.