The scenarios for fall classes at Barton Community College and other higher learning institutions range from “back to normal” to “fully remote,” with a dozen options in between. Administrators at Barton Community College discussed that Tuesday with the BCC Board of Trustees.
When the trustees met on Tuesday, they were still waiting to hear whether Gov. Laura Kelly would lift the statewide stay-at-home order next week and what form the new guidelines would take. Education institutions across the nation are waiting to see what will happen in the coming weeks and months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of (our) decisions rely on the governor’s decision,” Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said of the near future.
Charles Perkins, Barton’s dean of institutional effectiveness, said most of the college’s strategic planning is “on hold.”
“It won’t do any good to plan when we don’t know the parameters,” Perkins said.
Heilman said the Kansas Board of Regents’ Council of Chief Academic Officers met last week to talk about what fall would look like. The council referenced the article “15 Fall Scenarios” published by “Inside Higher Ed.” He said Barton might consider Scenario 13, a “HyFlex model.”
According to the article, the HyFlex model is perhaps the most flexible and for many the most attractive but for instructors it is one of the most difficult approaches. In this model, courses are taught both face-to-face in the classroom AND online by the same instructor at the same time. Students could choose to return to campus or stay home.
Heilman asked Vice President of Instruction Elaine Simmons to give the trustees a brief sketch of what was learned at the Friday, April 24 meeting, held via Zoom.
“Most institutions were noncommittal,” she said. “They used the word ‘provisional’ a lot. We’re trying to make decisions in a world of unknowns. There’s a lot percolating out there.”
She said everyone is working on what form summer courses will take.
“We hope to have a diverse menu at Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth and Great Bend, with telecourses, online courses and in-person, keying off of what we had to do very quickly in the spring,” Simmons said. “I think everyone would like to know by June 1 what we’re going in the fall.”
Heilman noted that many of the decision will rely on the governor’s decision, with expectations for distancing, etc.
The college is also interested in what the students want, Simmons said. Last week, the college began an initiative to find out how students’ spring semester went and to get feedback. “I think it’s important to keep the customer’s perspective in mind,” she said. The HyFlex model or fusion classes that meet on campus and via Zoom at the same time may appeal to some but not all. “We have lots of students to serve with lots of different interests.”
Trustee Don Learned wanted to know how athletic programs will be affected. “Do we still have a basketball team?”
“If we’re not open face-to-face, we won’t have athletics,” board chairman Mike Johnson said. This is a difficult time, with coaches trying to recruit athletes but with the future uncertain. “Everyone is facing unknowns.”
Camp Aldrich update
Work continues on a new cabin at Barton Community College’s Camp Aldrich conference center in the Cheyenne Bottoms area, Barton Vice President of Administration Mark Dean said.
“It’s on schedule and things are going well,” Dean said Tuesday. “It should be done by the end of May.”
But even if the new cabin is open by June, several events previously scheduled to take place there have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Camp Hope, a camp for kids with cancer. The sponsors of Camp Hope recently announced they will offer a virtual camp experience this summer.
Even some July events have been canceled, Dean said. However, there also have been some new requests to hold events at Camp Aldrich.
The cabin under construction replaces the Trails End cabin that burned down on Aug. 8, 2018. The new building will be able to accommodate up to 192 beds.