• January 18, 2021

OC staying on its toes - Odessa American: Odessa College

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OC staying on its toes

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Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2021 2:28 pm

Odessa College is virtual this week, but will resume face-to-face and hybrid classes Tuesday.

The campus will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The decision was made because of increased travel and gatherings during the holidays.

Vice President for Instruction Tramaine Anderson said when COVID-19 first hit in March 2020, all instruction was moved online and OC was prepared for it.

Some students in Career and Technical Education were brought back because some of their learning was hands on.

“We did all of our guidelines. We studied; we did our research with the guidelines so we were in practice of bringing back some students in smaller capacity, but doing online and small face-to-face (classes),” Anderson said.

“In the fall, we did the same thing. Simultaneously, faculty was teaching here on campus. They had a ... limited number of students in the classroom. And then other students would at that time, also be able to be taught online at the time of the course. So we had that split through the fall. But as you know, numbers increased. ... We knew that people would be traveling, people would be gathering together and you know, really studying how the virus worked with super spreading and all of that aspect, we knew that we needed to have those times when we were virtual and we did that after the Thanksgiving holiday. We were completely virtual after the holiday all the way to the end of the semester,” Anderson said.

She added that faculty was prepared, did their research and made their learning plans all the way out to the end of the fall semester.

“... We knew after the winter break, through the new year, people would travel and all of that, but our first week of classes for the spring semester has been virtual. That’s what they’re on now. They’re in virtual learning with online courses. The second week, we’ll be doing the remote live the safe learning option. ... That means that some students will come to campus one day; then the other day, they’ll be online. We are still going to continue to use that process that we did in the fall,” Anderson said.

She added that there isn’t really a playbook for this.

“We call it a pivot plan. ... We have a COVID-19 Task Force, led by Jacqui Gore (executive director of advancement). ... It’s made up of OC employees. We have had input from our staff, our faculty in the Allied Health areas, those that (have) boots on the ground that are teaching face-to-face,” Anderson said.

She added that the facilities department has helped with safety protocols, cleaning supplies and sanitation.

“... We’ve had all those folks on the task force that have helped us with making plans and making decisions on how we can bring students back safely; how we bring everyone back to campus safely,” she said.

Director of Media Relations Cheri Dalton said as far as she knows most employees are back on campus.

As far as switching learning environments from campus to hybrid or to remote, Anderson said she thinks OC has had a great campaign with everyone pitching in to communicate with students in all forms.

Asked about upcoming semesters, Anderson said she has had conversations with other chief academic officers and vice presidents across Texas.

“We’re already talking about fall ‘21 and what that’s going to look like,” Anderson said. “We’ve already begun to build our schedule for fall ‘21,” she said.

A lot of people, Anderson said, are looking at vaccination rates.

“... It’s like a domino effect. What happens on the state level, the national level, affects us at the local level. The good thing about it is we’re poised for anything that’s coming our way. We have plans,” Anderson added.

She noted that OC and other colleges like to plan ahead, but things change daily with COVID-19.

“... Especially for us in instruction, we plan our schedules in advance ... We’re already thinking about spring 2022 because we have to plan our academic calendar. ... But a part of our ethic, I would say, here at Odessa College is we’re going to thrive; we’re going to move through this process; we’re going to continue to keep going. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Dalton noted that students have been kept informed on multiple levels.

“You’ve got it coming in from advisors. You’ve got it coming from faculty members. You’ve got it going out in emails. You’ve got it going out with calls. You can’t just make one call and think they’re going to be informed,” Dalton said.

She noted that students have a chance to ask questions.

Odessa, TX

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