As we begin National Community College Month, it’s safe to say this is not the April any of us expected. The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the entire nation into a new reality, including higher education and Lorain County Community College (LCCC).
This nationwide crisis has given me a new perspective on Community College Month and of the role our nation’s community colleges, LCCC among them, for our students and the community.
As always, the health and safety of all students and employees are our top priority. In the face of this emergency, we remain guided by the principle that every student’s dream matters. By wrapping our students in a Culture of Care we can help them reach their goals, even in these uncertain times.
Innovation in the face of challenges
When faced with great challenges we often find the most hope and innovation. This is the case at LCCC with our faculty and staff, students and the community. The steely resolve and entrepreneurial spirit that are the hallmarks of our community have become abundantly clear during the coronavirus outbreak. The same is seen across many community colleges across the country.
Within hours of learning of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s recommendation that all colleges move the remainder of spring semester to remote delivery, LCCC’s faculty and staff were already creating solutions to meet the needs of each student.
I’ve been inspired daily by the determination of everyone involved in transforming the college during this time. By the time classes resumed after spring break, the physical location of LCCC shifted. Anywhere there is a student is now the classroom. The kitchen tables and home offices of faculty and staff are now the offices of the college.
We are working to make the transition to remote classes as smooth as possible, while also understanding that our students may be dealing with unexpected issues. Through surveys emailed to students, we identified the specific needs of each student and connected with them directly to address their concerns and challenges. For students who are struggling with the transition to online classes, our professors and advisors are reaching out to personally assist during this time.
With uncertainty abounding in many areas of life, it’s my goal that the college remain a pillar in our community, solid and strong. It’s my promise that no student be without technology or food during this crisis. For students without a proper computer at home, LCCC provided refurbished laptops.
LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC) is helping students to access food, financial help, counseling and other resources. Our on-campus food pantry, Commodore Cupboard, remains open as an essential service. Students and community members can call ahead to the pantry and their orders are filled through curbside pickup by our amazing pantry staff.
Serving the community
The food pantry is just one example of our commitment to the community’s wellness. With in-person labs canceled for the remainder of spring semester, LCCC was able to donate supplies used in courses such as nursing and microelectronic engineering. The college donated medical equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns to Lorain County hospitals. These items are typically used in LCCC programs with in-person lab components, such as nursing and microelectronic engineering (MEMS).
Over the past 10 years, more than 4,000 students have earned degrees from LCCC in healthcare fields. Sharing these needed supplies with them and all healthcare professionals was the right thing to do.
And when the need for personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals was beyond what the college had in stock, our Fab Lab employees got to work to create new products. They manufactured 3D-printed headbands for safety visor kits that are being delivered to the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security for distribution to local medical facilities.
A reassuring voice
As a college, often the most important thing we can share in the midst of turmoil is reassurance. A key part of the college’s COVID-19 response has been the steady and reassuring voice of our own virus expert, Dr. Harry Kestler, who has shared daily video updates since March 11.
Kestler has 35 years of experience as virus expert, including serving on the faculty at Harvard and at the Cleveland Clinic’s world-renowned Lerner College of Medicine. His COVID-19 video series has more than 60,000 views on YouTube, helping people in Ohio and across the country better understand the coronavirus and the country’s response.
LCCC was founded in 1963 as the community’s college. Over the past 57 years, the college has adapted to meet the changing needs of our community. In the weeks and months to come, I know we will continue to transform to best serve our students and the people of Lorain County. I am #LCCCProud of the positive impact the community’s college is having during this difficult time.