March 13, 2020, is a date that will be added to our ever-growing dates of historical events in the United States. Why? It was the date many of our states’ governors issued stay-at-home orders for all of its citizens amid growing concerns related to the coronavirus. By 5 p.m. on March 13, CNN.com reported that at least 1,666 coronavirus cases and 41 deaths had been confirmed in the U.S.
At Fayetteville Technical Community College, we were already on alert, as the news of the deadly virus spread. Faculty received training on how to use Blackboard Collaborate, a tool much like Zoom or Google, and were directed to teach from home. In addition to this training, College administrators surveyed students regarding their access to wi-fi services and computers when away from the campus.
I will admit that when the notification of the email flashed across my i-phone, I was a little taken aback. I knew how to prepare for a snow storm or hurricane but not a pandemic.
Thoughts filled my head about what I needed to do and how to get it done. The only computer I had at my home was more than ten years old and had no web-camera. I had no printer, and to be honest, I did not have the money to purchase what I needed to continue serving my students.
Fortunately for me, FTCC provided the needed computer with a web-camera for my use. I still had no printer, but because I teach math, my job doesn’t entail a great deal of printing. Internet service providers offered free internet service, and my cell phone service provider gave an additional 8 GB of data for the remainder of the month of March.
That Saturday back in March, I was busily trying to help my middle-schooler adapt to his new learning environment—the kitchen table—while I set up my new office in the dining room.
I fielded myriad emails from students.
I did my best to reassure my students that we would all work together to get through this ordeal. Then the day arrived for us to have our first of many virtual class meetings.
My experience felt like the first day of school all over again … I had to take time to help students find their virtual classroom, navigate the tools within the software and go over proper etiquette for meeting online.
Needless to say, by the end of the first day, I was exhausted yet very pleased that my students could continue learning. They could continue to explore the concepts of binomial experiments, hypothesis testing and compounding interest rates!
Fast forward, and here we are in month eight of this pandemic. Even though no one knows if and when our COVID-19 situation will go away, one thing is for sure: at FTCC, we are working to ensure that our students can continue to learn.
Spring classes begin January 11; we hope you will register today and begin the new year staying connected to something positive — education at FTCC.