COVID-19, also commonly known as the coronavirus, swept over the country and created a college experience that students didn’t sign up for.
Students had to move out of dorm rooms and begin taking all their classes online as well as learn how to maintain contact with their friends while dodging their parents’ rules.
Alexis Castillo, a nursing student at LCCC, stated that online classes have added to her stress.
“Classes have been very stressful, especially classes that I was taking in-class,” she said. “We don’t receive the best instructions now that we have moved online.”
James Miller, dean of students, went through how Laramie County Community College changed nearly all its operations because of the effects of COVID-19.
When LCCC decided to close its campus for the rest of the semester, the first thing it did was extended spring break by nearly another two weeks. This helped faculty move their classes online.
“Faculty worked diligently to ensure that students still receive excellent instruction,” Miller said.
Miller also stated a crisis team led by the IT department sent out surveys to all LCCC students to ask what their needs were regarding technology such as computers, WIFI and cameras.
Chad Marely, the chief technology officer for the IT department, stated that the surveys are still available on all students’ LCCC accounts. Marley said that 50 laptops were distributed between the Cheyenne and Laramie campuses to current students.
“No student who has indicated a need for a laptop has been turned away,” Marley said.
The questions stand on how LCCC will get the computers back after the semester ends.. Marley stated that the IT department, in partnership with the library staff in Cheyenne and the Albany County campus, helped created a system through the State of Wyoming library system. The IT department put barcodes on the back of all the computers that were checked out. Students also signed a form that indicates what device they checked out and when. Marley said that the return date is May 18 and will follow the proper receiving procedures to clean the devices and get the computers ready for the summer.
Besides making the drastic change of moving classes online, LCCC also moved students off campus and refunded money to those who had to leave campus.
“The vast majority of staff and faculty are working remotely,” he said. “We regularly meet to discuss what is working, what can we do better and what do we need as an institution to provide quality support to students.”
In-person classes lead to social interaction, and it’s hard to get that when students and faculty are stuck in the house. LCCC has tried to combat those sad feelings with moving class sessions to Zoom sessions, and even counseling sessions for students to have face time with their classmates and teachers along with other faculty that will support the students through this tough transition.
LCCC tried to bring all information to students by creating a website. Students can find this information at http://lccc.wy.edu/virus-information.aspx.
With COVID-19 seeming to not go away anytime soon, the future is something to worry about, especially when there are reports that the U.S. could receive another wave of the virus come fall that could impact all fall classes at LCCC.
Miller said this experience will help LCCC prepare for any scenario in the fall.
“This move to virtual prompts me to consider how we can offer services to our students in non-traditional ways,” Miller said. “For example: providing counseling services to our students remotely; developing programming that can be offered virtually, etc.”