Wytheville Community College (WCC) began classes for Summer Term on June 1, with the majority of classes being offered through remote instruction due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Only a limited number of students are enrolled in face-to-face classes in five health and occupational programs that began on June 11, after Virginia’s Executive Order 55 expired on June 4.
WCC’s limited re-opening follows directives in the new Executive Order 65 that states: “Institutions of higher education are encouraged to continue remote learning where practical. However, such institutions may offer in-person classes and instruction, including labs and related practical training, provided they comply with all applicable requirements under the ‘Guidelines for All Business Sectors.’ No institutions of higher education shall hold or host gatherings of more than 50 individuals. Any postsecondary provider offering vocational training in a profession regulated by a Virginia state agency/board must also comply with any sector-specific guidelines relevant to that profession to the extent possible under the regulatory training requirements.”
“The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff are our highest priority,” said Dr. Dean E. Sprinkle, WCC President. “WCC is following guidelines from Executive Order 65, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Community College System to help ensure everyone’s safety.”
Sprinkle further explained that the only face-to-face instruction is occurring in programs that cannot be taught online. For example, several students in WCC’s Dental Hygiene, Physical Therapist Assistant, and Nursing Programs were not able to complete their clinical hours required for both graduation and licensure exams. New students who have been admitted to health programs will be participating in hybrid orientations with a mixture of remote and face-to-face meetings. Similarly, students in WCC’s Power Line Worker, Truck Driver Training, and Welding Programs will be completing training that they began last March.
Faculty in all of these programs have developed detailed plans for beginning face-to-face instruction. They are working with students in small cohorts and will be adhering to social distancing and other safety guidelines. Additionally, faculty will be implementing specific guidelines that may be unique to each program. For example, students in health programs will be required to follow the same types of protocols that they would be required to follow as professionals in the fields they plan to enter.
Students enrolled in face-to-face classes will have limited access to campus facilities, with the Wytheville campus and off-site locations at the Crossroads Institute in Galax and the Summit Center in Marion remaining closed to the public at least through the summer. Expanded cleaning and sanitizing measures are also in place to help protect faculty, staff, and students.
Faculty are meeting students at designated entrances and allowing them access to designated classrooms, labs, and restroom facilities. Access to student services and resources remains online or by appointment only.
The majority of WCC employees continue to telework, with only a limited number of designated employees physically working on campus.
“WCC employees are doing a tremendous job in continuing the work of the college during these unprecedented times,” said Sprinkle.
Dr. Rhonda Catron-Wood, WCC’s Vice President of Academics and Institutional Advancement, noted that faculty did an outstanding job in transitioning classes online. “WCC is very fortunate that our faculty were already well-trained in terms of providing high-quality online instruction,” said Catron-Wood.” She explained that many WCC faculty have completed extensive professional development training as part of the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan through the college’s accreditation process. This plan focuses on improving online learning with a goal of helping students in online classes succeed at the same rates as students in traditional face-to-face classes. Catron-Wood noted that beyond having well-trained faculty, WCC is also able to provide online support services, such as online tutoring and access to counseling and advising services.
In terms of access to resources needed for online learning, WCC has expanded Wi-Fi services in parking lots at the Wytheville campus, the Crossroads Institute in Galax, and the Summit Center in Marion. Additionally, some emergency student aid funds are available to assist students with other technology needs.
For more information about WCC, programs of study, class offerings for Summer and Fall semesters, career counseling, student support services, financial aid, scholarships, etc., visit the WCC website at https://www.wcc.vccs.edu/ or call 276-223-4700.
WCC will be announcing more detailed plans regarding Fall Semester soon.