ECC reveals “transitional return to normal” for fall 2021

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Jennyfer Lopez

Elgin Community College will offer more hybrid courses in the fall.

Hadley Corbett and Lukas Munoz

Elgin Community College released its fall 2021 plans last week, increasing its in-person learning opportunities for courses including English, speech, psychology, math, biology, history, political science, business, economics, humanities, computer information systems, music, theater, and adult education.  

“ECC is planning for a transitional return to normal operations during the fall 2021 semester,” the school stated in a March 12 announcement. 

While the school released current plans for the ratio of classes to be held on campus, these are subject to change based on developments with COVID-19 and student demand.

“In-person classes fill very quickly so we need to open additional sections so long as our environment allows us to safely do so,” said Dr. Peggy Heinrich, ECC vice president of teaching, learning, & student development. “We have to watch the market and see how our classes fill to help us understand how we should be designing the schedule.”

For the fall semester, the current plan is to offer 34% of classes that include some form of face-to-face instruction. About 5% of those classes will be fully in-person and 24% will be hybrid classes. Many of these hybrid classes will offer in-person instruction once a week to compliment the online instruction. About 66% of classes will be held online.

While the classes with the lowest online success rates over the past few semesters were the top candidates for in-person classes, the final decision was informed by a variety of sources, according to the school.

“Institutional research was a source that was important in terms of weighing in on-course success rates [from previous semesters],” Heinrich said. “We also looked to our colleagues in other community colleges. We have been meeting [with them] throughout the pandemic and bouncing questions off of each other. We also track our recommendations from authorities like the governor’s office to predict where we are going to be in terms of our need to socially distance that indicates how many students we can fit in a classroom.”

Many online classes will offer a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous components.

“We will probably always have more online classes than we used to have because we have developed those courses and faculty are already trained,” Heinrich said. “Students know how to take the courses, some students prefer them, and yet we want to make sure we bring the campus back to life.”

It is not a guarantee to students which teachers will be on campus and which will still be at home. This won’t be known publicly until the course catalog is opened for the fall semester on April 19.

“We release our classes to our faculty and based on seniority they choose which class to teach,” Heinrich said. “It really depends on who is going to teach on campus. Some faculty are really eager to get back in the classroom whereas others might be preferring the online environment.”

However, as students walk around campus in the fall they will not be only going to classes. ECC is planning to gradually reopen for extracurricular activities and events. 

“The College is working with several different entities and governing bodies to provide a safe return of extracurricular activities for summer and fall 2021,” said Dr. Toya Webb Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at ECC. 

The plan for the fall semester is structured to give the ECC the largest amount of flexibility.

“We have developed plans and processes that allow for greater flexibility and maneuverability… This pandemic and its response has been a fluid event, and ECC is committed to remaining nimble in light of these changes,” Webb said.

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