By CAYLEE HANNA
Amarillo College has created a plan to move face-to-face lecture classes to tech-supported learning while labs and performance-based classes will still be able to meet in-person starting Oct. 26, after fall break. This plan will be in effect until the end of the academic year in May unless the number of COVID- 19 cases change drastically, college officials said.
Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, the AC President, held a live-streamed town hall meeting on Friday, Oct. 2 where he discussed this plan along with some other changes that will take place.
“Nothing is really changing except the clarity and simplicity of our face-to-face lecture classes,” Lowery-Hart said during the meeting. “Our face-to-face lecture based classes will move to tech-supported learning when Fall II starts through the end of the academic year in May. If it’s a performative-based class, an interactive creative arts class, a hands-on class or a lab, you still have the option to come back on campus. If the numbers resuscitate to where we have to go remote learning fully, then we’ll do that.”
Lowery-Hart said that he is proud of how the staff, faculty and students have dealt with the virus so far, but AC needs to create a new system that provides clarity and simplicity to them.
“I think we just need to honor the sacrifices that we’ve all made to get to this point and we just need to develop a system that is manageable, a work load that is manageable and we need clarity and simplicity in what we are telling our students and what we are providing them, in and outside of the classroom,” Lowery-Hart said. “We just have to simplify this for you and that is what we are trying to do.”
Along with face-to-face lecture classes being moved to tech-supported learning after fall break, the commencement ceremony for the fall semester will be held online.
“We will have a virtual commencement this fall like we did in the spring,” Lowery-Hart said.
Lizbeth Hernandez, a biology major, said that this decision is an adjustment that most students will have to grow accustomed to.
“I feel the switch to tech-supported learning is a dubious decision for both students and instructors but definitely a safe precaution for everyone on campus,” Hernandez said. “As a biology major, I’m fortunate that labs and other classes will be offered in person for hands-on learning. Nevertheless, virtual learning is something that we will have to adjust to in the meantime. Not only will this be a new adjustment for most of us, including myself, but also a differential way of learning which may offer some underlying benefits.”
Some students prefer to be in face-to-face lecture classes, but are relieved that they are still able to attend video conference lectures.
“I feel like it’s a little difficult to learn over a computer and at home because it’s not the same as being in class and being face-to-face,” Sierra Ochoa, a music education major, said. “It’s a little scary because I feel like I might miss certain opportunities, but besides that at least class is still happening and there is still a way for me to learn somehow. I understand why classes are being moved to tech-supported learning and I respect it but at the same time it’s just a little concerning.”
Lowery-Hart said that he is still worried about how COVID-19 will affect the community, but he knows that AC will stay strong.
“We’re continuing to do miraculous work with our students,” he said. “This has been stressful, painful and scary. I’m still worried about what COVID is doing to our community, in our school districts and what it could do for us if we don’t stay diligent about wearing our masks, staying socially distanced and practicing good hygiene. But I don’t have uncertainty about our ability to manage it, survive it and come out stronger from it.”
Hernandez said that although this change may be difficult for some students, this step is needed in order to figure out a better approach. “Although it can be challenging to adapt to new circumstances, it’s important to recognize that everyone is trying their best to modify their learning and teaching methods and become accustomed to new habits,” Hernandez said.