Suffolk County Community College welcomed students back for the fall semester Sept. 2 with a combination of online and in person instruction.
The college launched a Return to Campus Guidelines website to outline policies and procedures for this fall’s return. Services including the community college’s libraries and child care centers will be available to students.
In preparation for the new semester, Interim College President Louis Petrizzo said in a release, the college empaneled a Safe Start Task Force that prepared and implemented the college’s SUNY-approved reopening plan. The task force reviewed the configuration of every space that students, faculty and staff may occupy or are scheduled for use and marked them for safe, social distancing. In preparation for the semester the college’s faculty underwent additional training to sharpen their skills for remote instruction. In order to promote equity, SCCC also distributed more than 540 laptops, 300 Chromebooks and 75 Wi-Fi hotspots for student use this fall. Outdoor wireless access was also expanded to parking lots on all campuses.
“We recognize that high-quality child care is important for students who are attending classes,” said Interim President Petrizzo in a release. “Our childcare centers will reopen and be available with new drop off and pick-up procedures in place for health and safety.”
Suffolk was able to distribute more than $3.5 million in student grants under the federal CARES Act to students who suffered financial loss due to COVID-19. CARES Act funding made it possible for many students to return for the fall semester.
Petrizzo said the guidelines website is the result of months of work by the college’s Safe Start Task force which devised the plan in consultation with New York state and Suffolk County officials to ensure that students, faculty and staff that will come to campuses can do so safely.
The guidelines include a requirement that all students complete an online daily health screening questionnaire before arriving at a campus. Successful completion of the questionnaire will trigger an email to the student’s email permitting access to campus and must be shown to the Public Safety Officer on duty when arriving on a campus. Any student whose responses indicate a risk of COVID-19 exposure will receive an email advising them that they do not have clearance to come on campus that day and should contact a campus dean.
The guidelines further require that students adhere to social distancing and mask requirements. Those who don’t may face suspension.
Students attending classes on a campus will be in smaller groups to reduce density in accordance with physical distancing guidelines.
Instruction for the fall semester will be provided through asynchronous online assignments, real-time synchronous learning and a partly on campus and partly online option. There will be a limited number of face-to-face classes that will require hands-on instruction.
Campus libraries will be open and accessible by appointment. Students can reserve two-hour time-blocks by reservation using an online form. In addition, remote library research assistance will be available by phone, email and virtual chat.
The college also announced the modification or elimination of meal plan fees and credit card convenience fees. The distance education fee has been modified to be a one-time charge per semester, compared to a per-class fee.