April 17, 2020 Update
I appreciated the opportunity this morning to provide an update about Trinity Valley Community and our response to the coronavirus pandemic. We had great dialogue among the group of nearly 200 employees, with many utilizing the chat function within Zoom to ask questions I was able to answer, so thank you all for your participation this morning.
This is a rapidly developing situation and additional details will be communicated as they become available. We continue to use the best advice and guidance available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and regional and state health professionals as well as our local team of health professionals led by Provost Dr. Helen Reid.
The health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff are paramount as we continue to plan for the remainder of the spring semester and beyond.
On behalf of the board and myself, let me start by expressing appreciation to each of you for your patience and your flexibility during this rapidly changing and challenging time. We have been making decisions daily based on changing conditions, and each of you have met the challenges and gone way above and beyond your normal routines to benefit our students and the communities we serve. I am so very proud of the faculty and staff at TVCC for your dedication and commitment to our college and students. I will forever continue to say thank you over and over again.
Below is a video recording as well as some of the questions and corresponding answers from this morning’s TVCC Faculty and Staff Update Zoom meeting.
When will campuses reopen?
TVCC has been operating under the Executive Order from Governor Abbott that campuses are closed to the public through May 4, however the Governor announced extended school closures in his address today. Because the academic year is different from the local ISDs, we are seeking clarification on today’s Executive Order to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, and will communicate what that means to the TVCC community very soon.
Currently, all TVCC doors are locked on all campuses. That could change with future CDC, state, and local guidance. However, again, let me say again, the health and safety of our employees and students is of the utmost importance in any decision.
All student services continue to be provided to our students remotely, including summer registration with the advising office, which began last Monday, financial aid, business office, admissions office, registrar’s office and all other student services on all campuses. I am pleased to share that the remote services are working very well, so we will continue operating in this manner as fall registration begins on April 27.
What about the workforce classes with lots of hands-on instruction?
Welding and automotive technology classes will be canceled and students will be given an “incomplete” for the spring course. We are hopeful that these courses can be completed face-to-face during the summer 1 semester, and will share more details as they are available.
What about the graduation ceremony schedule?
The graduation ceremonies scheduled for May 14 and 15 are postponed. It is very possible that these spring graduates will be included in the summer graduation ceremony on August 14, but graduates should watch their TVCC email for more details regarding the postponed ceremony. The Health Science graduation could be at an earlier date yet to be determined.
Degrees will be conferred, and diplomas will be available after May 18. Spring graduates should watch for an email at their TVCC email account after the semester ends with details on ordering their diploma. Diplomas are free to graduates and mailed straight to them, once the steps in the email communication are completed.
What about the summer schedule?
Our summer schedule is posted on our website and students are currently registering. Until we receive further guidance, we plan on leaving the summer schedule as published. If this changes, we have a few face-to-face classes that may need conversion to online and welding and automotive may move to the summer 2 semester.
TDCJ summer academic schedule has been delayed until June 1. If the CDC 10 person and 6 foot guidelines continue to be enforced, we will be forced to make a decision on whether offering summer courses is a feasible option. Dr. Hurley is working on the class schedule and alternatives. I hope we can receive guidance in early May.
The TDCJ Workforce programs will be available when the state and TDCJ allows it. Again, the CDC guidelines will impact these programs.
What if I do not have a computer or Wi-Fi? Can I Use TVCC computer labs during this online-only period?
All the campus doors are locked and closed for student and visitor traffic. However, outdoor hot spots are available on all campuses 24/7. Additionally, the Athens, Palestine and Terrell HSC campuses each have one closely monitored computer lab available by appointment only available for student use. The location and numbers to call are posted on the TVCC website.
What if I registered for a face-to-face class and do not want to take an online class?
Students may take an incomplete (commonly referred to as an “I”) and make up the remainder of the course with the instructor at a later date when COVID-19 restrictions allow that. There will be no additional charge to the student. We highly recommend the “I” be made up in the summer if at all possible, but as soon as the course is offered face-to-face is the most beneficial timing for the student as far as content mastery. We have an Incomplete Form that we are asking students and faculty to complete so there is a record of what needs to be done to complete the course. We are working with the financial aid office to do everything possible within the required guidelines for the “I” to have the least amount of impact on the student’s financial aid. We are also working individually with students in developmental courses that cannot complete the course due to the online environment.
What about proctored testing requirements?
We prefer students use Honorlock which we contract with to provide proctored testing at the student’s home on their computer. Proctored testing is available on Athens, Palestine and Terrell HSC campus by appointment. Please visit the COVID-19 FAQ section of the website for additional information about proctored testing.
Will there be any changes to dual-credit classes with high schools?
No changes to dual credit. We anticipate dual credit grades to be provided by faculty in the normal timeline for the spring semester. We ask that faculty work with and assist dual credit students that were enrolled in face-to-face classes and converted to online to ensure completion. If completion is not accomplished, we ask faculty to discuss with their division chair, AVP, or provost regarding a May mini-mester that may be available.
What about student housing and refunds if students went home?
We have approximately 30 students currently living in the dorms now, mostly international students and others that could not travel home. We gave all students the option to go home or stay. The cafeteria, in compliance with CDC guidelines, is providing to-go meals seven days a week for our students and employees remaining on campus. We anticipate residential housing will be open for the summer II semester.
We are currently working with the CARES Act regarding housing refunds, and more information should be communicated to housing students in the next week.
What about labs and clinicals?
Provost Dr. Helen Reid and Assistant Provost Jason Smith are working through these issues with alternate approaches for students to demonstrate the content mastery. We are on schedule with some assistance from the state and nursing associations.
What about athletics, band, Cardettes, and other student competitions and activities?
We are anticipating guidance from the NJCAA, hopefully in May. All spring athletic games and practices have been canceled, physical recruiting stopped, and there is no spring football practice, so this will definitely be an interesting 2020-21 school year. We are following the guidance of the NJCAA and other governing organizations as far as when these activities will resume.
How did the CARES Act impact TVCC?
TVCC is receiving $1,865,240 from the Department of Education in the CARES Act in two grants; student services and institutional. Each receives half at $932,620 each. We have received general guidance from the DOE on the student services and are currently working on how to allocate aid to our students as it relates to financial aid, child care, technology needs, housing, food, transportation, and other expenses. Our plans are to make this available after April 27. We hope to receive DOE guidance on the institutional funds next week.
How will the coronavirus and the economy impact TVCC’s future?
The COVID-19 has created challenges this spring for TVCC and our students. We have met and overcome those challenges to serve our students and communities to the best of our ability given the existing circumstances.
We will continue to have challenges related to the coronavirus and the downturn in the economy. I anticipate some belt-tightening with the budget, and a possible decline in enrollment in the summer and fall as a result of the coronavirus. I anticipate an increase in enrollment as the unemployment rate increases and people go to school instead of work.
Again, I am confident we will meet any future challenge that comes along. Thank you again for your flexibility and willingness to work through these challenges. Our worlds have been turned upside down the last six weeks. Working together for our students and each other, we will get through this and be just as strong as ever.
Please continue to monitor the college's website, social media and email as these channels will be the primary source for future updates.
If you have a problem or concern, students should contact your professor, faculty contact your division chairs, provost or AVPs, and staff contact your supervisor.
If you need additional assistance, I can be reached at email@example.com.
Thank you. Have a great Friday and great weekend! We Are TVCC!
Jerry King, Ed.D.