GRCC to offer more in-person classes, services this fall

Grand Rapids Community College is preparing for a fall 2021 semester with more in-person classes and student services, a continued focus on safety, and a reflection of lessons learned for increased opportunities to serve all students and West Michigan.

“Our community is emerging from the pandemic, and the community's college will play a key role in helping people continue their education and West Michigan getting back to work,” says GRCC President Bill Pink.

“I hesitate to say we’ll be back to normal because this virus — and the racial and social issues we’ve faced as a nation — highlighted the inequities in the previous normal. We’re coming back with a new normal, with a greater on-campus presence but also more classes and support services offered in ways that make them more accessible to more students. We will be a better institution because of what we have learned from navigating this pandemic.”

Various class formats

About 80% of GRCC classes were partly or entirely offered virtually during the 2020-21 academic year. A significant number of fall 2021 classes will be on campus or presented in a hybrid format, conducted in a way that provides safety for students and employees.

Classes will also continue to be offered online and in virtual, real-time settings. Virtual classes were popular with many students, especially those scheduling around home and work responsibilities. That is especially helpful for older students attending GRCC through the state’s Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs.

The number of student services and activities offered on campus is also planned to increase, also with remote components and accommodations to connect with students and community members.

Ensuring access

The pandemic cast light on the technology gap that exists for many students, and the college offered hundreds of loaner laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, and other equipment. Those programs are planned to continue into the fall to ensure all students can access classes.

GRCC also plans to continue waiving online course fees through the fall. The move will save students $16 per contact hour, or about $50 for a three-credit class offered online. Students would still be responsible for tuition and other universal fees.

The college will continue working with local, state, and federal health authorities to monitor the pandemic and recommendations for health and safety protocols, including face coverings and social distancing.

Pink adds it is assuring to see the number of COVID cases dropping and the number of people getting the vaccine rising. But the fight against the virus continues, and the college can and will respond quickly if directed by health authorities.

GRCC offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays, and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.