What the future may look like with COVID-19 is something Elizabethtown Community and Technical College officials have been preparing for.
Whitney Taylor, human resources director, recently was named Healthy at Work officer.
These officers are part of the state’s plan, implemented by Gov. Andy Beshear, that was given to schools and businesses to carry out plans for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taylor said as an officer, it’s her job to make sure the school is being safe and compliant with government rules and also function as a sounding board for employees.
“If they see things that can potentially be improved or they have concerns they have someone they can come and talk to,” Taylor said.
She said right now, they’re currently working on Phase 1 of the plan.
On June 15, some people will start to come back to work on campus but will have requirements in place to wear face masks, daily health checks, closed meeting areas and turned off water fountains but with operational filling stations for water bottles.
July 1 is the next step which will include some labs becoming available for students but with certain limits including social distancing and providing proper personal protective equipment.
Taylor also said the school is doing its best to promote hand washing and remote work, and creating schedules to limit certain offices with social distancing on top of assisting staff and student with day cares once those are open.
Taylor said she has weekly team meetings with officers at other schools in the state and has discovered and heard of various methods and plans to help keep in line with regulations.
Classes currently happening at ECTC are all virtual.
Darrin Powell, interim chief academic officer, said technology will be implemented in classes in a variety of ways to keep in-line with COVID-19 protocols.
Powell said the online component of ECTC classes has improved and become more robust since the spring semester, allowing for many more capabilities by the time the fall semester begins. He said this also applies to online tutoring.
“Our goal is the students are receiving as close to the same information regardless of the mode they’re receiving,” Powell said.
While it does depend on the course and teacher, classes will use live online lectures with interactions and video lectures to help with distancing concerns. He said there also will be reduced class sizes and a more robust online component.
Powell said welding is an example of a class that will start in July that will need to have that lab.
Another idea some classes will have are blended courses, in which a class of students will take turns physically coming to class while others work and attend it through video at home for distancing protocols.
“We’re trying to ensure that, because if we do have a resurgence and we do need to be more restrictive again, we want to be able to move online easier than we were in the spring,” Powell said.
He said 40 or 50 classrooms now have the ability to record lectures for those needing to for a class, and have been training faculty this summer to help them learn the technology.
Advising Center Director Suzanne Darland said the school has moved to virtual advising and Blackboard Collaborate to facilitate the center’s services.
Darland said they did do an all-virtual enrollment to register for classes.
“We’ll be reproducing that again in next month for a fall enrollment because it just seemed to work out real well,” Darland said.
In early May, ECTC announced college placements tests will not be essential for enrollment.
Powell said tuition basically will stay the same, as the school is not charging any more or less because of the virus.
He said there has been an uptick in enrollment, but isn’t sure what to expect in the long run for the fall semester.
“We’re hopeful that we can be that solution for those students,” Powell said in regard to students looking to possibly attend community college.
Financial Aid Director Michael Barlow said the federal government has provided money to assist students who were impacted by disruptions related to the virus in the spring and early summer.
He said they’ve been processing these applications of requests from students to help meet those unexpected costs or technology needs.
“Based on the feedback I’m getting from our students, that’s really been very helpful,” Barlow said.
On top of that, Barlow said they are conducting a second round of scholarships for ECTC students because of the need in the community. These applications were posted on Wednesday.
He said those who have questions or concerns regarding ECTC should refer to its website or reach out to those who may be able to help.
“I would encourage students to reach out to anyone that they can,” Barlow said.