March 23, 2020 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Grand Rapids Community College will extend distance learning through the end of this semester to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
GRCC President Bill Pink said the decision was made so students and faculty could make the necessary steps to continue education through the end of the term as the state continues to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
“These are challenging times, and we want to reduce the amount of additional disruption for our students and faculty as we move forward,” Pink said. “This campus continues to put the needs of our students first, even as we work remotely. I hear amazing stories about our faculty being innovative to keep quality education continuing, and staff coming together to meet existing and magnified student challenges in other areas.”
The college continues to work closely with the Kent County Health Department and state health authorities. Two GRCC students have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Health Department, which has investigated both cases, spoken to potentially exposed students and faculty and determined there is little to no risk to others at the college.
GRCC initially suspended face-to-face instruction from March 11 through April 3 after consulting with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, county health and community experts, and higher education leaders across the state. The college closed its campuses March 19 to all but a limited number of employees.
Student Life has updated its GETHELP website, grcc.edu/gethelp, with links to resources for food insecurity, mental health, child care, Internet service, utilities and other challenges.
The college also provided loaner laptops and extended free wifi to the parking lot behind the Administration Building to help students keep up with their classes.
Other student support services, including counseling and advising, will continue remotely. Staff also is available to remotely navigate questions about financial aid, enrollment and other aspects of the college.
Decisions about Commencement and summer classes are still to be determined as campus leaders are collaborating with local and state leaders and monitoring conditions.
GRCC Provost Brian Knetl said many students and even some faculty have not experienced distance learning, but he’s been impressed by the ingenuity, tenacity, and generosity of the GRCC faculty.
“These are difficult and unprecedented decisions we’re making as a campus,” Knetl said. “During these times, I’ve watched faculty and staff demonstrate their passion for students and their success.”
Whether it’s their first experience with remote teaching or their 100th, faculty have responded to the need for remote teaching with creativity and compassion.
Professor Steve Abid has taught at GRCC for 43 years, including distance learning classes. He said the challenge this time was switching halfway through a semester with students who were not expecting a digital environment — or had never tried it before.
“Students have been fantastic,” he said. “GRCC students are resilient and can take a negative and turn it into a positive.”The college will continue to post updated information on the GRCC website at grcc.edu/coronavirus.
Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college -- and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.