Unmasking Fall 2020

Illustration by Sydney West

By CAYLEE HANNA, Page Editor

The atmosphere at Amarillo College will look different during the fall 2020 semester with students and faculty wearing face masks while social distancing, but the staff and faculty at AC say they are still committed to their culture of caring and making sure students stay successful and earn their credits during the pandemic.

“In many ways, classes will be similar to the learning experience before COVID. Students can choose if they want an online or face to face experience. The faculty will connect with and engage students in exciting ways,” Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, the AC president, said. “There will be important differences though. Everyone will wear masks. Face-to-face courses may rotate students into classrooms in cycles to maintain social distancing. Yet, the AC family will still be connected, safe and successful.”

Along with classes being available in person and online, Lowery-Hart said that student services as well as student organizations and events will be available both in person and online so that all students have access to the same services. 

“Students may access services online or in person. If a student needs tutoring, advising, counseling, social service support, student organizations, events or just wants to see their faculty, the college will be open. Yet, these will be managed safely through masks, social distancing and hygiene. These services will be available online as well for those students who may not be comfortable coming to campus,” he said.

AC will also continue to provide free tutoring on all campuses, said Becky Burton, the associate vice president of academic services.

“On campus tutoring most likely will require an appointment to ensure we have safe numbers of students in our tutoring centers. Virtual tutoring will continue to be available as well,” she said.

The Underground will also still be available for students to use while maintaining social distancing. Shane Hepler, the chief information officer, said that some of the meeting rooms in the computer lab will have cameras and microphones installed so students can participate in virtual classes while in the rooms.

“The only difference this semester with The Underground is social distancing from an operational point of view. Some of the middle meeting rooms also have cameras and mics now so you can join a class or collaborate with an instructor or classmates from within the room,” he said.

Hepler said the goal is to make sure students can learn safely. 

“The biggest difference about the fall semester is the masks, social distancing and sanitization. All to help mitigate COVID while still offering our great services and helping keep students, faculty and staff safe,” he said.

Lowery-Hart said that, despite the challenges the outbreak  has created, AC is making a strong commitment to ensure students succeed. 

“Learning never stops. This fall is a great opportunity for students to turn the crisis into credits and get ahead – both educationally and professionally. Amarillo College is nationally recognized for our culture of caring. COVID only showed how deep our commitment to student success is and this fall will be no different,” he said.

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