Wytheville Community College (WCC) has announced its plans for Fall Semester 2020, with classes beginning on August 24 and ending December 21. The majority of classes will be offered through several types of online instruction, except for health and occupational/workforce programs that require hands-on training. All face-to-face instruction in these selected programs will be carefully planned, adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health, and other state agencies.
The college campus in Wytheville and off-site locations at the Crossroads Institute in Galax and the Summit Center in Marion will remain closed to the public, with only a limited number of offices staffed with essential personnel. Most college employees will continue teleworking through Fall Semester.
“The guiding principle for WCC as we plan for Fall Semester is to carry out our educational mission and meet the needs of our students, while doing so with an emphasis on the safety, health, and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Dr. Dean E. Sprinkle, WCC President.
Sprinkle noted that WCC has developed a “Re-Opening Plan” in accordance with requirements from the Governor’s Office, and that plan has been submitted to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The plan outlines specific ways that WCC will work to keep students, faculty, and staff safe. A copy of the submitted plan is available on the WCC website at www.wcc.vccs.edu/fall-2020. Sprinkle noted that the plan will be subject to change based on Executive Order, CDC, VDH, VCCS, or other official guidance.
Sprinkle further emphasized that it is important to understand exactly what is involved in different types of online instruction. “Online instruction does not mean that students are expected to work through course materials on their own,” explained Sprinkle. “WCC offers several types of online instruction that includes opportunities for students to interact with both faculty and fellow students.”
This fall, WCC students will be able to select from courses that are predominately online and allow them to work at their own pace, yet students are still able to communicate with their instructors and other students through email or chat features. The benefit of this type of course is that students can choose the times that are most convenient for them to complete the course work. This allows students who may work or have other obligations to set their own schedules.
Another option available to students is “hybrid” courses in which students complete some of the course work online but have scheduled times to interact directly with faculty and other students through Zoom meetings or, in a limited number of cases, through face-to-face instruction that adheres to social distancing and safety guidelines.
“WCC is working to provide students with a variety of options,” explained Dr. Rhonda Catron-Wood, Vice President of Academics and Institutional Advancement. “We plan to offer several 16-week courses, as well as some 8-week options.”
Catron-Wood noted that the 8-week courses will primarily be general education courses, such as biology, chemistry, communications, English, history, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, and sociology that will transfer to most public four-year colleges and universities.
“With continuing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that some students may be uncertain about going to a residential four-year college this fall,” said Catron-Wood. “WCC is offering students options to complete core general education classes that they will need and that will transfer. WCC has consistently ranked as one of the most affordable public two-year colleges in the nation, so students who choose WCC may also be able to save money while still working toward their educational goals.”
More than 65 percent of WCC students generally qualify for at least some federal financial aid, and the WCC Educational Foundation and the WCC Scholarship Foundation also offer numerous scholarship opportunities, including private scholarships and awards that are funded by the Wythe-Bland Foundation, the Twin County Community Foundation, and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Last year, the WCC Foundations provided almost $1 million in assistance to WCC students.
In addition to a variety of course offerings and financial assistance, WCC is also offering student support services, such as advising, counseling, assistance with applying for financial aid, and tutoring. “Even though our offices are closed, we can still meet with students through technology,” explained Renee Thomas, Dean of Student Success and Academic Development. “Students can contact our office by phone or email, and we will be glad to schedule appointments to assist students.”
Class schedules for Fall Semester are available online at www.wcc.vccs.edu/class-schedule.