UACCB prepares for return to campus

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As preparations continue to welcome students to campus next week at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, UACCB personnel as well as students are sharing the same sense of excitement to return to campus for the fall semester.

“We are ready to welcome students to campus, and students are excited to return,” said Dr. Brian Shonk, vice chancellor for academics.

UACCB has made preparations to welcome students to campus for the 2020 fall semester under the direction of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and with the guidance of the Center for Disease Control, the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Education. In-person learning will begin on Aug. 19.

“As educators, we strive to help others better understand the world in which they live,” Shonk said. “With the challenges presented by the pandemic, we believe we can contribute to the knowledge of our students in reference to the importance of following safe practices aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 as they return to continue working toward their educational goals.”

Course instruction will utilize a modified format that allows faculty to maximize instructional time while limiting the number of students on campus to abide by current public health guidance. Student support offices, like tutoring, financial aid, and testing, will also adhere to the guidelines while maintaining services. 

UACCB will utilize a rotating schedule for fall classes. For classes that meet two days a week, such as Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, students will rotate the days they are physically in class according to their last name. For example, students with last names beginning with A-L will attend classes in-person on Monday. On Wednesdays, they will log in to their class through Blackboard, the college’s instructional platform, to attend class in real-time within Blackboard. Students with last names M-Z will follow a reverse schedule, logging in to class through Blackboard on Mondays and being physically in the classroom on Wednesdays. For classes outside of the standard two-day meeting schedule, students will log in to Blackboard for specific guidance from their instructors.

“Our goal is to maximize the in-person time students have with their faculty and fellow students while also reducing the number of persons on campus at any given time. This plan is an enhancement to the remote learning plan we implemented at the end of the spring semester. We are looking forward to the return of students in-person and to ensuring they receive the best education we can provide,” Shonk said.

Zach Perrine, vice chancellor for student affairs, said the first week of the semester is always a period of adjustment and ensured that faculty and staff are prepared to help students navigate this semester just as they do every semester.

“UACCB has taken the steps necessary to get the campus ready for students to return.  Our team is ready to support students in providing the complete college experience,” Perrine said.

In addition to employing a rotating class schedule, UACCB has made numerous modifications to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff including modifying classroom spaces and furniture to maintain social distancing and setting up sanitation stations with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer across campus. Face coverings are also being required wherever social distancing is not possible.

UACCB successfully held new student orientation sessions on campus Aug. 4 and Aug. 7 and will hold another session on Aug. 18.

The paramedic coining ceremony and practical nursing pinning ceremony were both held on campus this summer, and the campus bookstore also hosted a tax-free weekend event.

Chancellor Deborah Frazier said students were prepared when they arrived on campus and readily followed all safety guidelines that have been put into place.

“As we have prepared to return to in-person classes, the team has focused on ensuring the expectations for students, faculty and staff have been clearly stated. I believe the most important element for a successful fall semester will be to articulate campus expectations,” Frazier said. “In the interactions we’ve already had, I am amazed by our students’ willingness to do what is necessary to be able to return to campus and continue to move forward toward their goals. Our faculty and staff have prepared to maintain the quality of instruction that students have come to expect at UACCB despite the challenges that we face. Our campus community continues to be student-centered and community-focused.”

Article By Hannah Keller Flanery, UACCB Communications and Marketing Coordinator / Image via UACCB

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