BCCC to resume modified in-person classes in fall semester

Published 5:14 pm Monday, June 15, 2020

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Beaufort County Community College will resume in-person classes during its fall 2020 semester. In the interest of public health, the college will limit class sizes and will offer an assortment of online classes. Classes will begin on Aug. 17 and run for 16-weeks, as previously scheduled.

College administrators made the decision to resume in-person classes to accommodate students who perform better academically in a classroom setting. During the spring semester, the college ran all courses exclusively online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of summer classes are taking place online. The college had previously offered classes online and in-person, and while some students preferred online classes, many still prefer to be in the classroom. Some career and technical skills-based classes also have lab components that are difficult to carry out online.

The college will still offer many classes online, and is proud of its many excellent, certified online instructors. BCCC has won more awards through Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program than any other college in North Carolina.

When faculty, staff and students return to campus, the college will require them to wear masks inside of any campus building and anytime they are interacting with other people where a safe distance of six feet cannot be maintained. The college plans to provide cloth masks to all students who need them. Most class sizes will be limited to ten students. The college has already held classes for vital areas, such as Nurse Aide training, using these techniques.

Classes that have more than ten students will have alternating cohorts, so half the class will meet in-person one day, while the other half will watch a live video of the class remotely. If a class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, this means that the same ten students will come to class on Tuesdays, and the other ten will watch the class online. The cohorts will then flip so everyone has equal classroom time. The college is currently installing web cameras and microphones in classrooms to make this new instructional scenario possible.

Custodial staff at the college will be cleaning commonly used surfaces such as doorknobs and bathrooms continuously, and traffic patterns in campus hallways will be modified to reduce interactions.

Depending on state guidance, the college will be ready to go back to an exclusively online scenario, as necessary. Since online instruction is not a viable option in hands-on, skills-based labs such as welding, automotive or electrical, many career and technical programs will be front-loading lab hours for fall semester. Front-loading lab hours will allow students to accrue lab hours at a faster pace than normal so that less hours have to be made up if the college transitions to an exclusively online format.

BCCC’s service region is large (more than 2,000 square miles), rural, and lacks broadband internet in many locations. To address the need for reliable internet access for its students, BCCC is securing cellular-enabled devices that can be used as hotspots for up to five other devices. The college is currently testing the capabilities of these devices in the more remote parts of our service region. The devices will be issued to students who need them at no cost and will provide unlimited data use at up to 5G service (where available).

The college serves many students who excel in a classroom environment. This move is in response to better meet the needs of those students who need to learn using in-person techniques. Whether online or in-person, Beaufort will continue to balance its responsibility to public health with its responsibility to student academic success.