Like most colleges and schools, Kenai Peninsula College made an emergency switch to entirely distance education and shut down its campuses around mid-March. The college is planning to go forward next fall with mostly distance-delivered classes but there will be a handful of in-person classes when possible.
The college has summer classes but they’re all online, the way the spring was. By the time fall semester starts in September, some classes will be back to meeting in person — but only some, and in smaller numbers, with protective measures in place. Other typical functions, like the art galleries, will stay closed for the fall.
KPC staff and faculty hosted a question-and-answer session via Zoom on Thursday for current and prospective students to figure out what to expect. While it’s hard to predict what conditions will be like with the coronavirus pandemic in the fall, KPC is planning to deliver most of its classes via distance learning. KPC Director Gary Turner says that’s not too big a shift. About 60 percent of the college’s credits are already delivered via distance.
"The majority of our faculty are well qualified to teach online, but others are not," he said. "We really took training to a new height. We have an educational technology team and they just worked with faculty _ instructional designers. We pride ourselves on doing wonderful, high-quality online and technology-driven courses."
Some programs can’t be done entirely online, like in process technology, EMT or the certified nursing assistant programs. They have required, hands-on components to meet learning objectives. Turner said those classes will have some in-person meetings with social distancing and masks, where possible, and likely online material and synchronous video meetings.
Student Services are still available on the campus, such as advising and testing, but they’ll be by appointment. The maintenance staff is keeping the building thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
With the combination of enrollment dropping, university-wide cuts and other factors, the college could be facing up to a $2 million deficit next year. Turner said the college is already seeing an enrollment drop, in part due to uncertainty.
"Students are waiting to see what’s going to happen and others are saying that they don’t want to do distance. Others that maybe had planned to go Outside to go to college, they might be saying, 'Maybe not,'" he said. "I think it’s a lot of wait and see right now. Hopefully, we’ll see a bubble as we get closer to the fall."
For full-time students planning to come back in the fall, there’s new financial aid available, too. Julie Cottrell, Student Services director, said the college is excited to offer a $702 scholarship to students taking at least 12 credits next fall. That covers three credits and applies to any student admitted to a degree program or with a pending admission and taking credits at KPC.
"It’s an automatic scholarship, so that means students don’t have to fill out an application, they just have to meet that criteria by the deadline, which is July 15," she said.
Turner said the college came up with the plan for the scholarships this spring and hopes it will help keep students who may be financially struggling enrolled on their way to a degree.
Reach Elizabeth Earl at email@example.com.