ACC extends spring break amid coronavirus fears, potentially switches to all online courses

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ACC is currently deciding if they should switch to all online courses.

By Natalie Brink, Vandegrift High School

After University of Texas extended spring break over fears of coronavirus, Austin Community College has extended its spring break until March 29. When classes resume on March 30, they potentially could be conducted online or in “hybrid” form.

“With hybrid, that could mean face to face instruction may be limited,” college and career transition coordinator Sarah Spradling said. “It’s kind of up in the air what the formal decision is for those classes. But my best guess is that they’re probably going to follow suit of what other institutions of higher education are doing in the Central Texas area, which seems to be that they are going to be 100% online.”

Spradling has been gathering materials to send to dual credit students to help them navigate the potential shift to online school. She suggests students still keep a structured day and log important dates on planners to keep organized.

 “Treat that time like you’re still in school,” Spradling said. “I think it’s a matter of carving out time that you are working on that course every day. [Reach] out to your professor in a proactive way when you are getting behind or confused or need clarification or have questions. Don’t wait until the last minute before something’s due to ask those questions or to express concern.”

Spradling also suggests finding a classmate to communicate with through Facetime or other video calling software.

“[It’s important to find] ways to reach out to others that you can collaborate with, even if you are having to be physically in separate locations,” she said. “I think those are important components of being successful in an online environment. Just [make] sure that there’s some other discussion that’s happening and that you’re not alone.”

ACC History Professor Deborah Quinn said the extended spring break will not severely impact her syllabus, but her dual credit students will have to keep up with assignments and lectures through email.

“I do not expect students to do anything out of the norm the first week of spring break,” Quinn said. “I expect them to have fun, they worked hard and deserve the break. The extended week, I would expect them to follow assignment instructions that will be emailed to them so that they are not stressed when we return to school.”

If ACC does switch to an online course, Quinn said she will try to keep the disruption to a minimum. She encourages students to keep up to date by checking their emails constantly.

“Our first priority is to make sure all our students are taken care of especially during this time,” Quinn said. “If students have any concerns, do not be afraid to ask questions. All faculty and staff and Vandegrift, as well as ACC, are here to help.”

Junior Ashlyn McClendon said she doesn’t want ACC to switch to all online courses. She said she doesn’t think the panic the pandemic has caused is justified.

“I like going to my class,” McClendon said. “I don’t really want an online class because my class is pretty easy. I’m concerned about how my class is going to change if we go online.”

This story was originally published on Vandegrift Voice on March 13, 2020.