Pandemic teaches in colleges | News, Sports, Jobs
Over the past year, the field of education – from elementary to college – has faced a barrage of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A statewide mandate that has left education administration and faculty scrambling to work from home and students to stay on top of their studies while learning remotely in 2020, until 2020 in 2021. And without the strong IT departments and willing staff in the higher education field, the transition to distance learning would not have been so smooth.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for schools was the transition from in-person to distance learning.
For Eastern Gateway Community College, whose service area includes Trumbull and Mahoning counties, the move has resulted in an increase in enrollment. When the transition was made, the school faced another challenge: ensuring students had access to the Internet and computers, said Arthur Daly, vice president of EGCC’s Youngstown campus.
Some classes, such as those that required hands-on learning such as in the medical field, still met in person, but in accordance with health and safety guidelines.
Another technical concern for Eastern Gateway was making sure the faculty had the backing of the administration, Daly said.
“We had to make sure they had what they needed” he said.
Fortunately, “The challenges were very few”. Most of EGCC’s course content is cloud-based, but due to a “Strong technological department”, the transition has also been smooth, Daly said. In addition, the school has already provided “Robust online programming”, said Daly.
At nearby Youngstown State University, the biggest challenge she faced was the rapidly changing information coming from health officials and government. The school made the decision to switch to distance education.
And from the start, the administration and the faculty “I realized that no two classes had the same challenges,” YSU Marshal Brien Smith said.
In addition, grants and staff publications continued and students competed nationally throughout the pandemic.
“Throughout it all, YSU has continued in a way that makes everyone proud,” Smith said, adding that the university “Pushed for these high quality standards”.
At Kent State University in Trumbull, the IT team on campus, as well as the main Kent campus, have helped make the switch to all-remote as seamless as possible.
“We were able to avoid or minimize the problems” Daniel Palmer, Acting Dean and Administrative Director of KSU at Trumbull, said.
To help students who did not have internet access, remote hotspots were added to parking lots.
Most of Champion’s students stayed away throughout the spring semester, with the exception of nursing and veterinary technology programs.
The pandemic has been a learning opportunity for KSU at Trumbull. “We found, as a university community, that we were able to provide the additional support and services needed by our students,” Palmer said.
Free programs are offered to students, including one-to-one tutoring, mental health counseling, library counseling, and technical support.
ON A POSITIVE NOTE
Without minimizing the severity of the epidemic, schools have still reached new heights over the past year.
“We have launched initiatives to save money, improve the environment and add incredible educational opportunities”, Palmer said.
Solar panels installed last fall will provide clean energy that is about 65% of what the campus uses. The savings in the first year are estimated to be $ 24,000, with over $ 1.3 million over the next 25 years.
KSU administrators have approved the sale of nearly 63 acres of the Trumbull site to Mercy Health, which will be used to build a healthcare campus, Palmer said.
“This partnership could expand to include additional internship, internship and clinical opportunities for the nursing program,” Palmer said.
A partnership with the Siffrin Academy was formed during the pandemic which provides them with physical space to help people with disabilities as they transition from high school to employment or higher education programs.
KSU, EGCC and Youngstown State University have joined forces “Promote and further improve internship opportunities in the commercial non-profit organization”, Palmer, who is in the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber.
The pandemic has provided an opportunity for students and faculty to work together to cope at YSU. The students learned how to design systems that worked throughout the pandemic, Smith said, providing commentary.
Throughout the decision-making process, the number one concern of students and faculty was safety.
“You cannot be in an effective learning environment if not everyone is safe” Smith said.
“We look forward to having more classroom experiences and activating our sports programs, theatrical performances, concert series and all the activities students and the community have come to expect.” Palmer said.
The school is “optimistic” the fall semester will include face-to-face classes and activities, Palmer said. Local campus officials are working with senior Kent State officials on a plan that would allow students, while following health guidelines, to return in person.
Eastern Gateway is not expected to feel too much of the impact of the pandemic when the doors open fully again. It worked little by little towards the goal of bringing the students back to class.
“We always do the same things because we are not out of the woods yet”, Daly said, referring to security stationed at the gates, checking temperatures and documenting who enters buildings.
Regular disinfection efforts will continue in the future, he added.
The pandemic will have a lasting impact on YSU.
“It forever changes our vision of the safety of environments from a viral and biological point of view”, Smith said.
Virtual learning, which was once held in high regard, is being examined in a new light as students and faculty realize that the learning process is stronger in a classroom or laboratory, Smith said, adding that there was also a better mental health outcome to being on campus and communicating in person.
“We are very optimistic about what next fall will bring us” Smith said.