Joint meetings focus on COVID-related issues

During a joint meeting of the AACC/ACCT boards on Monday, Lone Star College Chancellor Steve Head provided an update on how the college is addressing issues pertaining to the pandemic. (Photo: LSC Houston North)

Each week since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, board members of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) have come together to hear from experts and provide updates on the impact of the virus on the community college sector. Previous meetings have included information on grading and accreditation, financial aid and stimulus funds, and nursing education.

Monday’s virtual meeting focused on two opinions written by Jen Worth, AACC’s senior vice president of workforce and economic development. The reports outlined recommendations for related technical instruction (RTI) for career and technical education (CTE) classes. The first was an analysis of input from member colleges that indicated RTI was not feasible in an online setting for many programs. It also recommended that colleges prioritize CTE classes that are needed to reinforce the local workforce pipeline in their plans for reopening.

The second focused on issues related to reopening protocols for cleaning and operations. Suggestions included limiting points of entry, installing signage related to social distancing, and issues related to protocols for cleaning dynamic CTE classrooms and labs.  

In the spotlight

Steve Head, chancellor of Lone Star College (LSC) in Texas, provided an update on how the LSC system is dealing with the transition of CTE courses for its multi-college district. LSC has hired instructional designers to look at workforce programs that could have components moved to the online space and still provide the same level of education to students.  

The college also is working with the state to identify programs critical to the workforce pipeline, including allied health and truck driving programs. Additionally, LSC has teamed with the governor’s office to complete labor market studies to determine which programs are most needed. 

Head added that LSC is also developing protocols for a return to campus, which include ways to provide personal protection equipment, COVID-19 testing and temperature readings for those returning to campus.  

Update from ED

Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy under secretary at the U.S. Education Department (ED), joined Monday’s online meeting and thanked both associations for the continuing efforts to help students, noting that ED recognizes the tremendous effort to get coursework online in order to serve students. 

The department is working to quickly disburse CARES Act funds to colleges, Jones said. She asked community colleges applying for the funds to carefully check their information prior to submitting applications in order to process them as soon as possible. 

Jones noted that ED has released guidance and FAQs related to CARES Act funding and will continue to do so via the department’s website. She indicated that new guidance pertaining to grant funding identified in the CARES Act would be published in the coming days.

About the Author

Martha Parham
is senior vice president of public relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.