Using four target areas of people, programs, facilities and community, Enterprise State Community College and the Alabama Aviation College are continuing to grow while preparing for a time when students can return to campus.
When campuses closed March 17, instruction and student support services transitioned online.
“It has been really impressive to see our instructors meet the challenge of transitioning to an online environment,” Dean of Instruction Danny Long said. “They kept their focus on meeting the needs of our students without jeopardizing the quality of instruction. Our faculty is the heart and soul of our College, and they give the administration of the College confidence that we can meet any challenges we may be faced with in the future.”
The transition to online learning was a smooth one, according to ESCC President Matt Rodgers, because of the hard work and patience of the employees and students.
“I commend the faculty and staff at Enterprise State and the Aviation College for their hard work during this time, and I am proud of the great attitudes of our students as they adapted to the changes,” he said.
Academic courses were completed online this spring semester. Technical classes, like those offered at the AAC campus, were ultimately suspended until hands-on training could be completed. No date has been set for students to return to campus to complete their spring semester training.
Rodgers said there is an understanding that the needs of the workforce could change as a result of COVID-19, a challenge both Colleges will rise to meet when students can return to campus.
“We realize that colleges will have to be flexible,” Rodgers said. “This is a new day and age where people will need to re-trained or receive new training in a different field. We will use the resources available to us to offer the type of training people need to help get people back to work in the safest manner possible.”
Academic courses will continue to be offered exclusively online at ESCC for the summer semester, with classes in areas like business, computer science, English and math. Two mechatronics courses will also be offered online this summer for any interested in starting the program. Long said ESCC plans to continue to offer a multitude of online academic course options in the future.
Currently, there are about 100 more students enrolled in summer academic classes at ESCC than last year at this time, an increase that Rodgers attributes to the work of “a great student services team.” Summer registration will continue until May 26, the first day of classes for the summer semester. Students can visit escc.edu/admission to apply.
ESCC’s Adult Education Program is also offering online classes. This program helps students become career ready through classes designed to help adult learners improve their academic and life skills. Students can request more information at http://escc.edu/AAESAP/ or learn more about the Adult Education Program at escc.edu/adult-education.
To prepare for the return of students and employees, ESCC/AAC created a task force to develop an extensive COVID-19 Mitigation Plan that continues to evolve based on information provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Gov. Kay Ivey’s Office and local medical professional Dr. Beverly Jordan.
Dr. Beverly Jordan, a physician with Professional Medical Associates in Enterprise, complimented the College’s administration on their preparations.
“I have been very impressed by the work of the administration at ESCC in their preparation to reopen the campus to on site instruction,” Jordan said. “They have been welcoming of medical and public health opinions and are clearly prioritizing the needs of their students and faculty.”
As part of the Mitigation Plan, both Colleges have purchased plexiglass safety shields for employees, developed clear sanitation plans and cleaning protocols for both campuses, and placed appropriate signage on both campuses. Students and employees will be required to complete an online COVID-19 training course and wear PPEs in campus buildings while maintaining social distancing guidelines. AAC instructors have also been working to prepare classrooms and labs to be in compliance with new social distancing guidelines for the day students can return to campus for training.
“Reopening our campuses will not be an event,” Rodgers said. “It will be a process that requires much care and planning to ensure its success. Our primary concern is the safety of our faculty, staff and students. We also want to make sure all of our people are properly trained and equipped. We are taking every possible measure to create the safest environment possible for both of our campuses.”
While ESCC/AAC prepare for the return of students to campus, renovation projects to learning facilities and a beautification project to ESCC’s courtyard are currently in progress or in the pre-construction stages.
At ESCC, bathroom upgrades in Wallace Administration Building are complete. Renovations to Sessions Hall, which houses the College’s science and math classes, are ongoing, and a courtyard beautification project was recently approved, with work starting May 18. Both the Sessions Hall and courtyard project are expected to be completed this fall.
At AAC, renovations to the Rufus Barnett Building have been approved, with work expected to begin in the fall. Once renovations are complete, this building will have a new lobby, testing rooms, classrooms, offices, restrooms and a new engine overhaul lab.
Other projects, like a new CDL canopy and renovations to the AAC Learning Resource Center, are also in the pre-planning stages.
The ultimate goal of all the projects and preparations, according to Rodgers, is to make sure ESCC/AAC continue to serve their communities during uncertain times.
“Through the good times and the bad, we stand ready to serve,” Rodgers said. “We view our role as critical in the recovery process of this pandemic, and we take pride in being the community’s college. We are thankful for the support we receive, and we will continue to serve our community in any way we can.”