Late-starting fall classes may be on campus if health and safety metrics improve
MC President DeRionne Pollard has announced the College will continue to operate remotely during the summer and fall semesters.
“With the health and safety of our students and employees at the top of our priority list, the College plans to offer 2021 summer session classes in remote format (our current status) or distance learning format,” she said.
Remote classes are scheduled on specific days and at specific times with “REMOTE” listed as the location in the course schedule. Students meet as a class remotely through Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate at the scheduled times.
There will be some exceptions for a few classes that rely heavily on hands-on experiences. Faculty and staff will continue with their existing remote work schedules unless otherwise notified by their supervisors.
“The format in which a class begins—remote, face-to face, or distance learning—will remain constant throughout the fall semester. If conditions improve, a class will not transition from one format to another in the middle of the semester, in order to minimize disruption,” Dr. Pollard stated.
However, late-starting classes, those beginning October 27, may see a transition to face-to-face.
Pollard says, “should the metrics improve substantially, some additional fall classes beginning in the second half of the fall semester (October 27) may be offered face-to-face.”
Classes that rely most heavily on face-to-face instruction will be given priority for face-to-face scheduling, she said. Worsening of health conditions, however, could move a face-to-face experience to emergency remote status.
The College will never make decisions about health and safety without thorough consultation with the CAT, local and state health authorities, our human resources team, and in compliance with CDC guidance.
The College is making this announcement early because of the complexity of class scheduling, student registration, financial aid processing, and assignment of faculty to thousands of class sections. This means the College must make operational decisions earlier than some other institutions.
Dr. Pollard said that throughout the summer and fall of 2021, the College will track several metrics that MC’s Coronavirus Advisory Team (CAT) has identified as safety markers, including: COVID-19 infections in Montgomery County, percentage of Montgomery County residents fully vaccinated by county metrics, test positivity rate, MC’s case tracking and outbreak data, adequate labor and materials for cleaning and disinfecting, sufficient preparation of MC facilities, on-site compliance with behavioral protocols, and MC emergency response planning and teams’ operational capacity.
These metrics will be compared to a matrix of risk levels designed by the CAT and the result will provide College leadership with a framework through which to assess the safety of face-to-face working, learning, and teaching on our campuses and worksites. Given the existence of new strains of the virus, additional metrics could be added if they become relevant to health and safety conditions.
“The next phase of our experience will likely involve more ambiguity, not less,” Dr. Pollard said. “Contradictory information from media sources about local and national conditions will likely be a continuing reality. While this can be very frustrating, please be assured that the College will never make decisions about health and safety without thorough consultation with the CAT, local and state health authorities, our human resources team, and in compliance with CDC guidance.”
Anticipating how returning to campus in 2022 will work, MC leadership is considering a controlled, “pilot return” to buildings that could include very limited use of computer labs and small space rentals.
Dr. Pollard emphasized the top priority of the College: “Montgomery College continues to prioritize the health and safety of its students and employees as we continue fulfill our mission.”