Lee College is helping take the lead in bringing society back into some semblance of the old normal with its announcement to resume hands-on instruction.
A selected number of classes focused on industry and trade will return to campus starting Monday under social distancing guidelines and new safety standards. Classes will also be taught at the McNair Center and the Lee College Education Center in South Liberty County.
Lee College President Dr. Lynda Villanueva said the college followed the guidance of the Texas Association of Community Colleges and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Gov. Greg Abbott’s order. The remainder of the 2019-20 academic year will limit in-person instruction to career and technical education courses.
The school’s focus is to ensure students in the technical programs can safely complete the hands-on portion of the spring classes.
“We are taking a slow and deliberate approach to opening the campuses in phases,” she said. “We will move through these phases based on local, state and national orders and based on our specific college needs.
“For the immediate future, we are working on bringing very limited programs back beginning Monday, May 18. Faculty and students have been contacted, and we will adjust the next phases based on the information we gather. Our first
focus is to help students in our technical programs to safely complete the hands-on portion of spring classes.”
In terms of safety, students will need to arrive at classes with faces covered. Villanueva said all students and instructors will be required to wear coverings such as masks, bandanas, scarves or other similar type cloth as recommended by the CDC.
Classrooms, restrooms and all common areas in use will also be thoroughly sanitized on a regular basis. Equipment and special tools will also be sanitized after use and water fountains will not be in use.
The majority of classes during the summer will be remaining online. The technical classes have demands that led to in-person instruction.
“The Spring 2020 ‘paused’ courses are all technical classes that require hands-on instruction and labs to successfully complete the course,” she said. “A few examples include pipefitting, welding and process technology.”
Reopening in-person instruction will require more detail-oriented planning with the social distancing standards. Math skills might come in particularly handy trying to make everything fit.
“Class size will be determined by several factors including classroom square footage, number of desks or workspaces and classroom layout,” Villanueva said. “Spring classes resuming on May 18 will maintain the same number of total students enrolled in each course, however, if the number of students exceeds the room’s capacity based on social distancing guidelines, then the students will be split between two classrooms.”
With in-person instruction taking place on campus starting Monday, the question looking ahead is what is next? The fall semester is only months away, spring commencement ceremonies were moved to December and the immediate future still looks uncertain as virus numbers continue to mount.
“Lee College is committed to being a safe and healthy place to learn and work,” Villanueva said. “Accordingly, we have taken a measured, data-informed approach to scheduling for the fall semester. The fall schedule has a mix of online, hybrid and face-to-face classes. As part of our safety through social distancing strategy, most classes are in the online and hybrid format with face-to-face offerings being mostly limited to the Career and Technical Education fields of study.”
To help facilitate the online format, Lee College will introduce Lee Stream, Villanueva said.
“In Lee Stream, students will meet with their instructors and classmates remotely on scheduled days and times as if they were meeting face-to-face,” she said. “This method will offer the safety of social distancing while also providing the person-to-person contact many students enjoy.”
Villanueva said it is the college’s hope to offer increased face-to-face instruction in spring 2021.