HCC to offer combination of in-person, hybrid and remote classes in fall

  • Holyoke Community College’s Campus Center GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/1/2021 9:07:28 AM

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College plans to welcome students back to in-person classes in the fall, though it will offer a variety of class formats.

The college will look to health and safety guidance and student feedback to determine how many classes will be offered in-person, hybrid or remotely, according to HCC President Christina Royal.

“We know that there are going to be some students who want to continue to study remotely, because it works well with their schedules,” Royal said, “or because of their safety and health.”

She added, “We know that there are going to be other students who want to come and learn in the classroom and have access to campus.”

The number of classes offered in-person will depend partially on student interest, Royal said, noting that if in-person classes fill up quickly during registration, the college may add more sections. Currently, the college plans to offer over 400 courses with in-person, on-campus components.

“The near future is all about flexibility,” Royal said. The college is also considering factors such as COVID-19 vaccination rates, how variants impact the spread of the disease and federal and state public health guidelines when determining class setups. 

The college will continue to evaluate student preferences as the fall semester draws closer, Royal said, adding that some students will likely change their minds as pandemic trends evolve. The college is also preparing to accommodate students who want to continue with remote learning while having access to campus facilities.

Administration and student service offices will also open for in-person services in the fall, though social distancing measures such as mask wearing are planned to stay in place. Facilities workers are also installing plexiglass screens in areas where students and other members of the public have close interactions with staff.

In-person classes will be capped at 10 students per classroom.

The college does not currently have a COVID-19 vaccination requirement in place for students who plan to return to campus, according to Royal.

Classes resumed on a mostly remote basis this spring, with about 10% of classes taking place in-person. Most in-person classes were held for programs that require hands-on experience for accreditation, such as health care programs. But courses across every subject area, from the sciences to the arts and humanities, will have in-person, hybrid and online options in the fall, according to Royal.

Royal predicts that the fall semester will be transitional in nature, rather than reflecting long-term changes caused by the pandemic. These changes can be positive, Royal said, noting that the college has made “significant investments” to technology in classrooms and can provide more virtual options for some services.

“We recognize too that the pandemic has likely permanently changed expectations for students,” Royal said, “and they’ll want flexibility to access services remotely and on campus, depending on the type of support that they need and what their schedule is like, and other factors in terms of transportation, work schedules or child care needs.”

While students will have different preferences for how they attend classes in the fall, “one thing for sure is that students, faculty and staff are all craving community,” Royal said.

A full educational experience “has a lot to do with community and connection,” she added. “The HCC campus is where that happens.”

The fall 2021 semester will begin on Sept. 7.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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