LIBERAL, Kan. – Seward County Community College has resumed its spring semester classes through an online format, beginning Monday, March 23.
When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and state and local government announced restrictions on gatherings and activities, SCCC decided a virtual environment offered the best way to proceed.
“Our decision was guided by Seward’s commitment to the health and safety of our community, and the growing need to take preventive measures to assist in this unprecedented public health crisis,” said SCCC President Ken Trzaska. “We understand these changes are disruptive so please be assured that our team stands ready to support students however we can.”
With the decision to continue the spring semester, instructors have been hard at work to modify course work into a virtual format – whether it is video conferencing, chat, podcast or some other electronic delivery.
There have also been discussions of how to proceed with labs and classes that require in-person interaction. Those situations will be handled on a course-by-course situation.
According to Luke Dowell, dean of instruction at SCCC, faculty have concentrated on email contact with students to let them know what is going on with their classes and how to proceed. Students can also log in to Canvas – SCCC’s academic portal – to get course information.
Dowell preached patience as most students and instructors are venturing into fairly uncharted waters. While SCCC already offers some online courses and others that are hybrids, most are not.
“Everyone needs to understand that we are all diving into something brand-new and different,” Dowell said. “Instructors who are not used to providing lessons online are going to try to do that and it’s not going to be perfect. Students who are not used to learning online need to be able to think differently about how they approach their classes.
“We are going to do everything we can to support the students and instructors through this,” he continued. “We’re all kind of out of our comfort zone and it’s going to take patience. It’s going to take a lot over these next couple of months to make this work but we’re going to do what we can to make it work. It’s not going to be perfect.”
Dowell also stressed and recognized the needs of certain students who may not be comfortable with an online format. He encouraged those students to keep an open mind.
“Give it a chance,” he said. “Do what you can to see what you can make work out of this situation. And if it’s not working contact your instructor and work with them. We will figure it out on a case-by-case basis if there are other options. We’ve talked about a lot of situations and a lot of options. There’s not going to be a blanket solution. What we can promise the student is that we will listen to concerns and do the best we can to address them.”
Another point of emphasis was that students received their information from SCCC instructors when it comes to course work.
“Make sure (the information) comes directly from the instructor,” Dowell said.
According to Dowell, there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but the journey will prove to be beneficial.
“For students we are asking for patience and understanding, but also asking them to make a commitment (to trying to get through the semester),” he said. “Figuring this out is going to pay off for them moving forward. Once we get through this and succeed through this, we’re going to be better for it. We’re all going to learn something that we need didn’t realize that we could do before. It is going to be positive in the long run, but it is going to be a challenge.”