PCC's plan for fall start during pandemic

More remote learning -- less hands-on courses
Posted at 10:12 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 08:32:23-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Pima Community College is preparing for an August 19 start date.

And it won't be much different from what students experienced during the state shutdown.

A week is all the time PCC had to transform about 2-thousand out of 3,500 courses into entirely virtual ones.

And then train faculty, about 3,000 employees to function in that virtual context.

Four month later, Chancellor Lee Lambert is pretty much staying this course.

"Our plan was to leave as much of what we were doing coming through the spring -- coming into the fall," said Lambert.

He had wanted to bring back all the courses that require hands-on learning -- sciences -- arts -- and CTE classes in fields -- like nursing and automotive.

But Chancellor Lambert realized -- it would be too difficult.

"I would love to bring back as much as we can. I mean that I would certainly want to do that and I told my faculty and staff know my bias is to face-to-face learning," said Lambert.

But the COVID-19 risk, he says, is too high so less hands-on courses are being offered to keep students and staff safe and socially distanced.

And all the hands-on courses offered are being adjusted to include smaller class sizes, remote learning, and flexible scheduling.

"So you could be sitting in a lab course where maybe in the morning your listening to a lecture and in the afternoon you can actually work on the equipment. So instead of you being there all day long now you only have to be there part of the day," said Lambert.

Lambert says the COVID-19 crisis served as an accelerant to needed changes in the 21st Century.

"The digital skills which all students are going to need, you're getting them now. Employees, you gotta have those skills too," he said.

He says the pandemic is a hardcore lesson on flexibility and adaptability.

"We're living 21st Century skills through the pandemic. It's not theoretical. This is real life," he said.

Lambert says he's dedicated all the federal Cares Act funds -- $10 million -- to technology for students who need it.