by Kevin Pink
Information Director, Indian Hills Community College
In the second week of March, Indian Hills Community College was a month into the spring term on the college’s academic calendar. Within a matter of days IHCC, like most of the world, was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, over a month later, Indian Hills is operating under what some would call “the new normal.” However, a small step toward returning to normalcy is on the horizon.
Responding to the coronavirus outbreak, classes at Indian Hills were cancelled Mar. 16 and 17 and then resumed the next day with instructors, some of them anyway, adapting to a new way of teaching and students participating via the Internet. Fortunately, IHCC already had more than 300 online courses and that made it a little easier for those instructors who were now doing all their teaching online. Others quickly adopted the new method of delivering course material with some innovative ideas growing out of the need to teach their courses virtually. Those instructors and their students have done an admirable job dealing with this interruption and subsequent change in learning delivery.
The academic SUCCESS centers and libraries on both campuses and the Testing Center on the Ottumwa campus can still be accessed online. And the vast majority of college staff have been working from home, still performing vital functions to keep Indian Hills running.
There is a new date to get excited about: May 4. That is the target for Indian Hills to resume lab courses and lab experiences on-campus in small groups. Academic deans and faculty are working to accelerate and condense the labs, which are an essential part of the academic process for all three of the divisions — Advanced Technology, Health Sciences and Arts and Sciences. Health screening and safety measures will be implemented when students return to the labs, a few at a time. And the number of people in specific locations on the campuses will continue to be minimized.
May 4 is less than two weeks before the scheduled spring graduation ceremonies in Centerville and Ottumwa and they traditionally bring more people onto campus than any other event during the year. With the restrictions on large crowds, this time the commencement ceremonies will be “virtual” with the graduates’ names read and an accompanying photo shown, a performance by an Indian Hills choral group, remarks by administrators, and more. Details on the two ceremonies and how they can be viewed will be released in a few weeks.
Now that plans are coming together for what the remainder of the spring term will look like, attention has already turned to the upcoming summer term. Registration for the summer term is underway with prospective students able to register online. Academic administrators are working with faculty on individual schedules and, since the term doesn’t start until May 27, it’s still undecided on what the delivery format will be for the term. That determination will also be revealed in coming weeks.
Some good news came from the announcement that Indian Hills is one of the educational institutions that will receive funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by Congress. Of the amount allocated to each institution, at least 50 percent must be reserved to provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. The remaining funds will be used by IHCC to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction.
(This is a regular column provided by Indian Hills Community College)