With a recent uptick in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations nationwide in recent weeks, there is concern about the uncertainty of reopening schools this fall.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence this week hosted a national dialogue at the White House to discuss the safe reopening of America’s schools.
Ivy Tech Community College President Dr. Sue Ellspermann represented the Association of Community Colleges at the summit.
“I think they wanted to hear that higher education was also going to be open for business, in particular in-person,” said Ellspermann.
During the meeting, the president said for the well-being of children and country, students must begin safely learning again while being physically present in schools to receive supportive services.
Ellspermann says that was a common message heard throughout the summit. She says community colleges have been implementing safety plans since early spring when schools started to shut down due to the pandemic.
“We’re all in. We’re going to be available on-line, virtual, and in-person,” said Ellspermann of the nation’s community colleges. “It’s important for Americans to know that. And I wanted to get that point across to the President…and that we’re going to do it very safely”
Ellspermann says Ivy Tech campuses this week began what it calls completion academies, in-person instruction for its Career and Technical Education courses and nursing curriculum that requires hands-on and lab classes.
The courses could not finish this spring when classes switched to virtual due to the pandemic.
“We worked closely with the state,” explained Ellspermann, who says precautions are being taken for the face-to-face education. “Socially distanced, smaller groups, wearing masks…all the right protocols.”
Those same protocols, and more, will be in place when Ivy Tech’s fall semester begins on August 24.
Ivy Tech also instituted a new approach to teaching called Learn Anywhere, offering 500 sections of courses that allows a student to choose on a weekly basis whether they want to attend a class on-campus, to watch live online, or asynchronously
“That’s forever changing the way we do things…it’s a great compliment to faculty and teaches who have been willing to try different ways of doing things all to benefit students,” said Ellspermann.
Ellspermann says as late as June, college students were trying to figure out their educational path, whether that meant going back to community college, moving to a 4-year school, or taking a year off.
“We really encourage students to stay in,” Ellspermann said. “Whether it is a 6-year-old going back to public school or a 20-year-old going back to college or an adult continuing their education, we need to do that. The American economy needs us to be there.”
Click here to view Ivy Tech’s COVID-19 plans for the safe return to class.
Ellspermann explains to Inside INdiana Business that Ivy Tech’s role is not only about getting a degree or credential, it’s holistic.