If you’ve been around Washtenaw Community College for any length of time, you know that the WCC summer semester is a lightweight. Further, the instructor training programs that WCC hosts consume a significant portion of the summer semester – so much so that WCC ends the summer semester early to accommodate them. In 2021, however, the Board of Trustees should consider directing the administration to use the summer semester to catch up.
The pandemic has caused the enrollment at WCC to drop. Both the student headcount and the number of credit hours are down. Students who would have enrolled in classes (or would have taken more classes) simply didn’t. Or couldn’t – due to their need for in-person instruction. For 2021, using the WCC summer semester to catch up makes sense.
It’s hard to understate the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on students. They’ve fallen behind on their academic programs by not enrolling in classes or by dropping them. Some would-be students opted not to start academic programs. Perhaps they lacked the tools they needed for online study. Or they were worried about their finances. Or maybe managing home-schooling for their children or other family members demanded too much of their time.
Use the WCC summer semester to Washtenaw County’s advantage
Using the WCC summer semester to catch up is both tactically and practically important. Getting students started (or restarted) on their academic goals should be Job Number One. Getting WCC back up to full speed is equally important.
This may require running the summer session as a full 15-week semester. It may require renegotiating the faculty contract to provide additional incentives for faculty members (who have already met their contractual requirements) to put WCC back in motion. For some students, WCC will have to find a way to increase their financial aid. And getting back to work may require WCC to pump the brakes on the 2021 instructor training programs.
WCC’s first priority is meeting the educational needs of the people of Washtenaw County. For the past 56 years, Washtenaw County residents have invested heavily in the creation, expansion and operation of Washtenaw Community College. Our residents should not have to wait in line to get full value from this facility. Especially as we begin to emerge from a pandemic.
WCC and the Washtenaw County Health Department should have a frank discussion about restarting the instructor training programs in 2021. At first blush, it seems unwise to have people from around the country converge on Washtenaw County this summer. Vaccine distribution has been uneven to date, and many people are still unsure that they even want the vaccine. It is in no one’s best interest to conduct a series of potential “super-spreader” events for partially vaccinated participants in a partially vaccinated community. Let’s use the WCC summer semester to help our students get their academic plans back on track.
Photo Credit: Trinity Care Foundation , via Flickr