“Our faculty knew a normal fall semester would not be likely,” notes Dr. Michael Boyd, president of Kankakee Community College.
Like every college across the nation, Kankakee Community College (KCC) was unexpectedly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with in-person classes taking a surprise switch to online classes in the wake of Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-in-home order in March.
As the summer winds to a close the college prepares to welcome students new and old for the Fall 2020 semester, every staff member has been hard at work to guarantee students are able to make use of the resources available on campus. “Everyone on campus has been doing their part,” Dr. Boyd explained, citing everyone from staff members in the financial aid office, to veteran’s assistants and professors.
As a professor in the English department, Trisha Dandurand described how the faculty “have been in overdrive this summer prepping for the Fall term.” Some faculty are currently pursuing their Masters degree in online teaching, creating a course for faculty sharing the best methods of online instruction along the way, a process Dr. Boyd described as “inspiring.”
The college is also offering a module in Canvas, the online learning website employed by KCC, to help students making a transition to online learning succeed. The module gives students advice on time management, communication strategies, persistence, and other skills useful for long-distance learning.
Several faculty members have also taken classes on online learning through the University of Illinois. Dandurand says that she has been “really impressed how responsive to change faculty have been.” One area that has been especially challenged by the pandemic has been KCC’s career and technical classes.
Such classes are, according to Dr. Boyd, “what we do best,” so it has been important for the college to ensure they continue as smoothly as possible amid the threat of COVID-19.
Pat Klette, an instructor in the college’s welding program, describes the sudden change to online models in the spring semester, saying that the whole second half of the semester was “on adrenaline.” Many instructors chose to record videos for labs, with students expected to do necessary calculations for the class at home; one class took advantage of a simulator unique to it.
Klette explains how the faculty in the technical programs are planning ahead as best as they can, trying to have labs be as open as possible, as some technical classes simply cannot go online. Most of KCC’s technical classes will be meeting in person and adhering to social distancing; other classes will move lectures online while having labs on KCC’s campus. However, such labs will undergo a thorough deep cleaning process, as will classrooms, with no one being allowed into classrooms or labs until such cleaning is finished.
Every person will also be required to wear a face covering when on campus. With classes beginning on August 17th, one of Dr. Boyd’s primary focuses is ensuring students feel that they can complete the semester, and not have to delay their career or academic goals because of a pandemic, saying that “we are prepared for every eventuality.”
According to Dr. Boyd, this is yet another chance for KCC to step up for the community. Says Dr. Boyd, “Kankakee Community College has helped the people of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties through the most challenging times in the college’s history, and we’ll be here for this challenge.”