March 30, 2020
Dear BCCC Faculty and Staff:
We entered this period of online teaching, learning and remote working hopeful that it wouldn’t last long, but committed to following the guidance of our health professionals and leaders. As I shared with you last week, online learning will continue through the remainder of the spring semester. Everyone stepped up to rapidly prepare for the initial period of remote instruction. At the same time, I want to acknowledge that the trainings that were provided may not be enough to ensure all faculty have the necessary resources to fully operate online for the now extended period. We must be responsive to providing advanced training and resources so that you can thrive in an online environment and provide the educational experience that our students must receive.
A number of questions have been sent to me beginning with the faculty promotion process and the date for submission of packets. The original submission date for promotion packets was changed to April 6. Given the current crisis level, that date has now been suspended until we have a firm timeframe for when the campus will reopen, which has not yet been determined. Responses to other questions from the academy are below and Vice President Jones will be providing more specific detail as she speaks with the Deans.
Under discussion is the development of more courses to be offered online in the future with the possibility of some programs taught fully online. This would require additional resources and training to develop innovative courses which maintain the high touch feel for students, similar to face-to-face classes.
With instruction remaining online for the spring semester for longer than initially expected, E-learning is developing training for faculty which will be available starting Friday, April 3rd. Also, the trainings will be taped, and links will be posted in Canvas. The Deans and Associate Deans have also identified alternative ways to communicate with the students such as using apps like Remind and Slack; this will be communicated to the students.
Students have contacted me about how grades will be handled. Options for some BCCC students may include regular grading, pass/fail or incomplete. We are also determining how to proceed with labs and clinical requirements. We are currently reviewing the impact of having moved to online instruction and are evaluating the best options for our students that will also comply with the transfer requirements of other institutions.
For summer, books that are not changing will be ordered based on the projected enrollment. For fall, we will be reviewing the required books to ensure that we are using the best and most economical choice for the course to promote student success. Deans and Associate Deans will be reaching out to faculty to confirm that books for summer courses, in general, will not be changing.
The summer schedule is under development and on target for registration to begin on April 20th. Credit courses are being offered in both the 5-week and 8-week sessions. Discussions have occurred among Vice President Jones, the Deans and Associate Deans about which courses should be offered in which term. Also, since many students may receive “I” grades for spring semester, we may need to look at the summer as a time for them to make up coursework. The fall schedule will be further reviewed and developed once the summer schedule is finalized. I think everyone is aware that we are doing our best to maintain schedule dates, but the critical nature of the crisis may call for other adjustments.
I know the status of BCCC’s 2020 Commencement ceremony has been on the minds of many and I hear you. Like other colleges and universities across the nation, we have given this signature academic event a great deal of attention and thought. After careful consideration and based on the guidance from CDC and others, we simply are not able to continue as planned with our formal Commencement ceremony (originally scheduled for May 30th). For these same reasons, our plans for the Alternative High School Commencement ceremony for Baltimore City Community College’s GED program must change as well.
This decision does not mean we are closing the door on celebrating our students’ accomplishments. We do not yet know what Commencement 2020 will look like, but we will celebrate those graduating from BCCC. The manner in which we celebrate may not look the way we have all been accustomed to, but our students will still graduate and receive their diplomas. No doubt our lives will return to a new “normal” at some point, but no one really has any way of knowing exactly when. What we do know, is that the enormous challenges that we face through this unprecedented global health emergency and the health and safety of our community will continue to guide the decisions we make.
Finally, I wanted to make sure you saw Governor Hogan’s announcement this morning that, effective at 8:00 pm this evening, no Maryland resident should leave their home except for an urgent reason to obtain food, medicine or medical attention, or to travel to an essential job. The Executive Order indicates that you can continue to go outside for walks, hikes, runs or bike rides as long as you stay at least 6 feet away from other people and don’t congregate in groups of more than 10.
Collectively, it is your tireless efforts and dedication, support and encouragement that will get our students to the finish line. Stay well, close to home and safe!
Debra L. McCurdy, PhD