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RCCC to phase in more in-person classes

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College moved almost all of its classes online when the COVID-19 pandemic started, and it has started phasing them back to in-person.

About one-third of the course offerings through the community college were already online, and the institution has received accolades over the years for its virtual curriculum. One-third of classes turned into nearly all, with the exception of some courses that had to be offered in person and were critical, like those for firefighter certification.

Recently, the college has started bringing more of its classes back into the classroom. Michael Quillen, vice president of academic programs, said the college is phasing in its in-person offerings as it looks toward getting back to where it was just more than a year ago. Quillen said the transformation of the college’s curriculum at the time was significant.

“This week a year ago was our extended spring break,” Quillen said. “During that spring break, we took 1,249 classes that were in-person and turned them into online classes.”

Emergency management and health care programs that needed to be in person and presented a significant need were the first classes to return to the traditional model. Some more classes transitioned to in-person this semester, and the college has about 20% in-person. This summer, that percent will be close to 35%. By fall, the offerings will be about half-and-half. By then, the in-person offerings will approach where they were pre-pandemic.

“We were not in-person 100% before, and we’re not going to be when we come back,” Quillen said.

The coming academic year has been built like it was in 2019 — pre-pandemic. But the daily course offerings from the college’s Corporate and Continuing Education group has been slowly increasing its in-person offerings.

RCCC President Carol Spalding said the college is pleased to bring more students back in-person for the coming semester.

“As always, we will adhere strictly to all recommended safety protocols to keep everyone safe while on our campuses,” Spalding said.

Spalding said the college is a catalyst for helping people recover from the effects of the pandemic.

This summer health care programs will be in-person. Welding, machining and other trade programs will be offered as hybrid classes. General education courses will be a mix. Some courses will have some in-person components, but not much.

“This summer, we’re kind of experimenting to see how can we come back in-person, stay socially distanced, make sure we keep our students and our faculty and staff safe, while vaccinations are catching people up and everyone is moving toward a time where we can be back more normal,” Quillen said.

Quillen said there may be more online classes permanently by the end of the experimentation. Quillen said in the past year the college has found for some classes students do just as well in online versions and they offer more flexibility for the busy schedules of people like working parents.

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