The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily disrupted life for Suffolk County Community College, but college officials said it hasn’t dampened the spirit and ingenuity of those determined to carry out the college’s mission, make a difference and continue classes and services for students.
The sudden shift of instruction on March 23 from the classroom to 2,903 online classes for Suffolk’s nearly 20,000 students took place in less than two weeks. A herculean task matched by shifting Suffolk’s libraries, advising, counseling, financial aid, and a host of other services to remote operation built on a foundation made by Suffolk’s Information Technology (IT) Department.
“How do you move nearly 3,000 course sections online in only two weeks?” said Suffolk County Community College Interim President Louis Petrizzo. “You ask our faculty to do the impossible and they deliver in record time for our students. We are eternally grateful for the dedication of our faculty, our front-line employees in Public Safety and Plant Operations who pulled together in this time of need.”
Suffolk’s libraries are providing virtual hours, online chat and electronic resources for students.
Counselors and advisors are meeting with students via Zoom, email and phone while Suffolk’s Veterans Affairs resource centers are hosting virtual office hours. Later this month the group will host a virtual meeting and discussion with a World War II veteran who is a Battle of the Bulge survivor and concentration camp liberator. The Zoom meeting is open to all.
The college is also calling every Suffolk student to answer questions and provide direction to resources. More than 13,000 students have been called to date. And, just like all of us, Suffolk students and their families have been affected by the pandemic.
Suffolk’s IT Department distributed more than 300 laptops and dozens of hotspots to students who lacked the technology to log into online instruction and fielded more than 300 technology inquiries from students.
A newly established Suffolk Community College Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Fund has fielded more than 170 students’ applications for support. 90 percent of students who applied cited job loss, as well as family unemployment and related that a family member or members are ill and being treated for coronavirus. Any enrolled student can apply for emergency funds.
“We are here for our students because we’re all in this together,” said Sylvia A. Diaz, executive director of the Suffolk Community College Foundation. “Our generous donors, our faculty & staff, alumni and corporate partners have all pitched in to help students facing financial hardships because of the pandemic.”
Contributions to the student COVID-19 Emergency fund are being accepted at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/sccf-covid19.
SCCC moved activities from its two health clubs online, providing access to a YouTube hosted exercise regimen, and the athletics department is hosting online gaming competitions, while also emphasizing that everyone needs to exercise.
The college’s sustainability department has continued conservation efforts by celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day with the Take 1 Less challenge. Participants are challenged to use one less plastic item a day and document their efforts with photos that are shared on the college’s social media channels. On Earth Day, a virtual nature walk with the Suffolk County Community College Ammerman Campus Environmental Club will take place via Zoom.