While the world seems to be ending as we know it, Seattle Central’s academic routine has also been thrown for a loop. With COVID-19 sweeping the city, SCC had to make some very big decisions very quickly. All classes have been moved to online platforms if possible, and there is still widespread confusion about what Spring Quarter will look like. So where do we go from here? What’s the plan? And how will SCC create some sense of academic normalcy?
According to Bradley Lane, Vice President of Instruction, SCC has never seen a crisis like this before. “This is new territory. There have been times in the history of the college where there are concerns of an outbreak like SARS, but we’ve always been able to manage through self isolation,” Lane says. “The college has never seen the governor exercise emergency powers.”
In terms of the possibility of a citywide lockdown or shelter-in-place, Lane says that SCC was ahead of the game in many ways. “We were a little ahead of many other colleges, and had to grapple really quickly, because of a preemptive positive case. We were taking measures to clean and sanitize, and moving to remote operations sooner than a lot of other colleges,” Lane comments. “Many other colleges, where the virus has just now shown up, will be scrambling to get to where we are.”
On March 30, several school resources will be made available for those who need them, such as admissions and registration, financial aid, cashiering, advising, and the library computer room at the HEC, which is equipped with internet connection and chat options for specific questions. The BE Learning Center and the SAM Learning center will be and have been providing tutoring through Zoom, and there is a session available on March 21. The News Center also has many resources listed for childcare, hygiene, food banks and rent assistance during this time.
Teachers have been affected in much the same way as students, with childcare issues due to the K-12 closing and access to the technology needed to do their jobs. “We’ve encouraged teachers to be flexible, so students can finish the quarter in a way that doesn’t affect their academic progress,” says Lane. There is also mounting concern from instructors about student health, and Lane mentioned getting multiple emails from faculty pushing for help for students and institutional aid, especially for students working in service industries.
One of the biggest concerns has been financial aid, and its availability to students during this difficult time. “The Director of Financial Aid has been working ahead,” says Lane. “There are certain groups of students who we are concerned about, such as veteran students, international students without visas.” The state and federal government are allegedly working together to find a solution to providing classes to students with limited access to tech, and the Director of Financial Aid is working on granting incompletes to students who are unable to finish classes due to the closing of the campus.
Spring Quarter will have a delayed start on April 13. The college intends to “provide faculty with resources to convert courses to alternative modes and maintain social distancing,” as stated in a Newsletter on March 19. The school also plans to provide students with the tech assistance they need to be able to attend online classes and complete work, most likely through computer lending through the library. For classes with labs, the administration plans to facilitate on-campus instruction. “This decision is in keeping with Governor Inslee’s March 13 announcement calling for colleges and universities to transition to online and alternative modes of instruction through April 24,” as stated in an email sent out to college students and staff alike. The end of Spring Quarter is currently scheduled for June 19, and the administration advises that students and faculty should be prepared for an entirely online Quarter, though that may change as circumstances allow.
Regularly updated information can be found here: https://newscenter.seattlecentral.edu/