Special to the Journal
When North Shore Community College’s 56th academic year began Tuesday, classes and learning continued, but in a very different format. To prioritize the health and safety of NSCC’s entire community, the vast majority of NSCC students began the fall semester in a predominantly virtual environment.
“I think it is safe to say that this is the beginning of the most unprecedented semester NSCC has ever faced,” said Dr. Nate Bryant, NSCC Interim President. “Six months following the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, we still find ourselves in its throes. We have spent significant time and resources over the summer preparing for our utmost goal of keeping our students and staff safe and healthy.
“Only about five percent of our classes will be offered in person on campus, most of which are those that require face-to-face labs and simulations. Students and faculty will continue to adapt to an online learning environment, while those employees who can effectively perform their work from home will continue to do so. I extend my sincere thanks and admiration for the efforts of so many who have worked diligently to prepare for what promises to be an auspicious year,” Dr. Bryant noted.
NSCC started planning the conversion to online learning in March when the college moved away from face-to-face learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Dr. Bryant says, NSCC is poised to deliver an online learning experience that is equal in quality to the face-to-face experience. Our full-time faculty and adjunct faculty have been training all summer to prepare for the new school year and I’m delighted with the progress they made. Students this fall will receive an exceptional online learning experience.
Dr. Karen Hynick, Vice President of Academic Affairs, said, “Thanks to the hard work and ability of NSCC faculty to quickly pivot to a new educational reality, our students will continue to receive an exceptionally high-quality educational experience at NSCC, albeit in different formats. We have only 29 sections of face-to-face courses for the fall semester, mostly in health professions, aviation and other areas that require hands-on experiences where the equipment can’t be replicated at home or through virtual means. Our faculty and Center for Teaching, Learning and Innovation (CTLI) staff have spent countless hours preparing for the fall semester, enhancing over 300 sections of online, 250 sections of hybrid and 250 sections of video conference courses.”
NSCC has made a considerable investment to ensure high academic standards continued across all academic programs in the new virtual modality. Over $700,000 was spent on training full-time and adjunct faculty to develop online, hybrid and videoconference courses and labs. The college also dedicated significant resources to ensure that students had what they needed to succeed – Chromebooks, Hot Spots, virtual resource access and emergency loans if needed.
In addition, NSCC student affairs staff have worked tirelessly since the spring to address anticipated enrollment shortfalls. Work has included lots of virtual weekend registration and orientation events, and shifting student supports to virtual delivery such as advising, tutoring, counseling, and more. Countless hours were spent to drive down what started out as a significant double-digit decline, which is now much closer to original projections.
“All of us at NSCC remain steadfast in our commitment to the health and safety of our students and staff and to student success. We will continue to adjust and adapt to the changes brought forth by the COVID pandemic,” Dr. Bryant said. “We maintain social distancing, wear facemasks, and are getting used to a new way of life in the hopes of keeping our families and communities safe and limiting the spread of the coronavirus .”