The University of Alaska Anchorage is reopening its campuses this fall, including the Homer and Soldotna campuses of Kenai Peninsula College.
Both campuses have been quiet since March 2020, when the college moved the vast majority of its classes online and closed its buildings to the public. Those rules are now set to expire Aug. 2. The first day of classes is Aug. 23.
Incoming KPC Director Cheryl Siemers said she’s working with department chairs to shift more classes to in-person instruction this fall.
“When we created our fall schedule, we increased our number of face-to-face offerings, kind of in anticipation of this," she said. "But now we’ll look at it even more strategically, seeing if there are others we need to offer on campus.”
There have been a few classes in person this school year, like some EMT and nursing courses. But most general education classes have been fully online.
“And we’re already starting to get student feedback," Siemers said. "So if there’s a class they’re doing that they really wanted face-to-face that’s only showing in an online modality, we have received calls from students who say, ‘Hey, do you think you’re going to offer this in a face-to-face format?’ And where possible, we’re looking at that.”
Enrollment has been down at KPC and across the university system for a while. The pandemic made matters worse, creating an even larger dip in tuition revenue for KPC.
As for enrollment this upcoming school year, “That’s our big question mark," Siemers said.
She said they’re still waiting to see how things shake out. But she generally thinks there will be a growth in enrollment, especially as students who didn’t want to do distance learning come back.
The university system also just announced a new policy on masks. Effective this week, all fully vaccinated students, staff and visitors can be on campus without them.
It’s on an honor system, though, so no one’s going to check whether those without masks are vaccinated or not, Siemers said.
She said she’s excited to have students and staff back on campus soon.
“And create the community sense that’s so essential to what we do at Kenai Peninsula College," she said.
KPC doesn’t have any students living on campus. Its residence hall has been on hiatus due to budget cuts and lower enrollment since last June.