Refund for classes handled case-by-case

With moving hands-on labs to simulations, students debate if it's enough or if there should be a refund.

Hands-on+classes+became+%22hands-off%22+after+the+Kansas+governor%27s+stay-at-home+order.+Students+now+do+most+of+their+labs+as+simulations.+%28file+photo%29

Annette Meza

Hands-on classes became "hands-off" after the Kansas governor's stay-at-home order. Students now do most of their labs as simulations. (file photo)

By Calen Moore, Seward County Community College

A nursing student gets ready for their clinicals and puts on their scrubs, goes to the hospital and spends hours shadowing a nurse and even more hours filling out paperwork. This is what class looked like just over a month ago, but now that nursing student gets on their laptop at home and does their clinicals through simulations. 

This is not what they signed up for. 

Some students feel more prepared than ever, while some want a refund. 

COVID-19 turned expectations for most classes upside down. Seward County Community College, like many other colleges, moved to online classes after spring break. The tricky part has been that some classes revolve around “hands-on” learning, labs and clinicals. Programs, like nursing and STEM, have gone to simulations and virtual learning to help replace physical labs. 

Bottom line is that if a student requests a refund we will work with them”

— Ken Trzaska, SCCC president

SCCC president Ken Trzaska said the college has worked hard to come up with methods to help push the students along and fulfill lab requirements. However, it may not work for every person or class. The college decided that refunds will be given if the class is no longer being held, but mostly will be looked at case-by-case. 

“Bottom line is that if a student requests a refund we will work with them,” Trzaska said. “We are trying to avoid refunds and are working diligently to support students’ persistence and collection of course and respective lab or clinical hours.” 
Some students are content with the measures SCCC has taken to provide for students. With simulations and virtual learning, these hands on activities can be done at home and around a students’ schedule. Most are working more hours on the frontlines.

“In some ways, it’s easier than before because we don’t have to leave the house. I do feel that I’m missing out on some much needed hands-on experience but I’m still learning a lot from the simulations,” William Salvador, nursing major, said. 

Salvador said that although difficult there are no reasons not to pass. A refund would be “unnecessary” because their accommodations are enough to move students forward. 

Other students felt similarly to Salvador that the college was accommodating enough to help students succeed. Dani Rubio studies natural gas compression and noted that most of his hands-on work was done last semester. This semester the focus is the technical aspect, learning how to read gauges and measure for their field. 

“Mostly everything can be done online. It all just comes down to the student doing the work,” Rubio said. “It’s difficult for someone like me to motivate myself to do all of the online work but I guess not serious enough for a refund.” 

Rubi Gallegos
Hands-on learning is key for most students at the industrial technology school. These labs have moved to alternative methods of instruction. (file photo)

However, students at larger universities feel that they should get refunded for their tuition because online learning is not as valuable as learning in-person. This has led to protests and even some students suing their schools. Most schools can not pay back tuition, it is their main source of revenue. But this does not stop students from voicing their opinion on the matter and suggesting that colleges consider low income families. 
At SCCC, the college offers tuition grants and other ways to help students pay for college so most students do not seem as upset as students at large universities. A smaller campus however offers more personable learning that students aren’t able to get anymore. 

“I appreciate the accommodations and efforts being made but it’s still not physical hands-on experience or the education we asked for, so I think a refund would be appropriate,” Maria Herrera, STEM student, said. 

Herrera was some of the few that felt a refund would be necessary. While accommodations are being made, students felt that they weren’t getting quite the same amount of preparation they would have in-person. To them, it seemed unfair. 

Some students felt they do not learn as well through online and they are at a disadvantage and were in favor of a partial reimbursement.  

“Not being in a classroom setting is a major obstacle for me to essentially teach myself material,” Oscar Silva, computer information sciences major, said.  

Refunds at SCCC will be looked at and considered if a student wants a refund for their tuition. However, if a class is still being held and accommodations have been made, it is likely that students will not receive a refund. Withdrawals will be treated normally and the last day to withdraw from a class is Thursday. 

This story was originally published on The Crusader on April 22, 2020.