By Jaclyn Flores
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – In March 2020, with concerns about the coronavirus pandemic raging, Camden County College decided to switch to all remote learning. Now, seven months later, one must wonder: what is the college’s timeline for returning to in-person instruction? The answer is clear – at present, there is no timeline.
To date, the college remains at Stage 2 of the Return to Campus Plan. This stage allows for minimal in-person instruction for classes such as labs and requires adherence to strict safety protocols.
CCC President Donald Borden expressed deference to public safety officials when it comes to the advancement of the RTC Plan.
“Truly, it’s more of a health circumstance,” he said. “I’m not a medical health expert. I wouldn’t want to be making those decisions without a lot of input from the people that are trained and have that expertise.”
He added, “We’ve worked very closely with the county and state health departments, the departments of education and the governor’s office because we value the expertise they bring to us.”
Borden acknowledged the challenges of remote learning to both staff members and students; however, he said he feels the college has been successful in addressing issues as they’ve arisen. That includes ensuring students and staff members have access to necessary hardware such as laptops and extending Wi-Fi access to outdoor areas of the campus.
“You can park your car in our parking lots here in Blackwood and in Camden and get Wi-Fi”, he said.
Recently, the college addressed students’ need to access campus printers. Borden added the college would be incorporating more face-to-face Zoom calls between students and their professors in upcoming semesters. Spring registration will go forward under the current Stage 2 model, with most classes being offered remotely.
Despite the college’s efforts to address concerns, students’ education has been notably affected.
Early childhood education student Evelyn Baez, 35, of Cherry Hill, had her graduation date pushed back because of a canceled in-person class. Though she is a seasoned online student, she noted some differences this semester.
“You can tell that some of the professors have never done remote learning before. The classes are disorganized. Sometimes your email doesn’t get answered on time,” said Baez.
Borden said he feels the overall implementation of remote learning has been very successful because of key factors such as a hardworking instructional technology team and the implementation of the Canvas platform shortly before the pandemic began. With that said, he expressed his desire to return to in-person instruction.
“We’d prefer to have our students back on our campus. It’s not the same without the students and our faculty here on campus,” he said.
He added once the pandemic ends, the college will be ready to reopen for full-time in-person instruction within one or two weeks. As to when that may happen? Well, he can’t really say.
“I’m guessing that until they get a vaccine or some kind of herd immunity, I think we’ll be to some degree more similar to the circumstance we’re in now than dissimilar,” he stated.