Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College will offer a variety of options for courses for the Fall 2020, with the majority of courses being offered online to protect the safety and welfare of students and staff.
Programs such as Welding, Machining, Truck Driving, Construction, Engineering, and others that require face-to-face instruction will be configured for smaller class sizes to allow for social distancing. Additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be implemented in these classrooms.
For students enrolled in health programs, such as Practical and Registered Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, and others, the College will ensure that students have the necessary safety equipment (Personal Protective Equipment-PPE) to complete coursework and practicums.
“Faculty and staff have shown tremendous innovation in designing a large variety of course and program offerings that will be safe, engaging, and accessible, “said Dr. Kristen Westover, MECC President.
Decisions regarding class scheduling for fall 2020 will remain flexible and dependent upon local COVID-19 conditions, Executive Orders from the Governor, guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health, and other sources of guidance. All courses will likely have some online content, others will be entirely online, and some will be a combination of in-person and online (hybrid offerings).
MECC will continue to support online learners, including assessment of online learning readiness, career exploration, tutoring, advising, online testing, etc. in a virtual format. In some instances, for face-to-face courses, this may require a modified schedule to address safety concerns and comply with safety requirements.
“MECC is committed to work with students to complete their courses,” Westover said. “We believe that our approach is the safest choice we can make for this fall while ensuring that students are able to learn and train for their future careers.”
Westover explained that online courses will be offered in various formats. Some online courses, which are synchronous offerings, are structured to meet at specific times on tools like Zoom, just like a traditional in-person class, so students can engage with their instructor and classmates together. Others offer a chance to learn material at one’s own pace to complete assignments or take exams by specific deadlines in faculty-facilitated courses, or asynchronous offerings.
VCCS Chancellor Glenn Dubois noted Virginia’s community colleges are experts in providing online classes. “We began these offerings nearly 25 years ago, growing to become Virginia’s largest public provider of distance learning courses. We served more than 150,000 people last year through the more than 10,000 virtual courses offered across our 23 community colleges.
We are safe, we are the largest provider of higher education in Virginia, we are the largest online provider of higher education in Virginia, and we are the most affordable educational option in Virginia,” Dubois said.
For more information regarding Fall 2020 course scheduling options, or to enroll in an MECC Fall 2020 course, please call 276.523.2400 or visit the MECC’s website at www.mecc.edu.