Classes at start of fall semester to be online


Tai's Captures/Unsplash

Almost all fall semester classes will be online, although a few labs may be held in person with strict social distancing guidelines.

Christian Richey and Daniel Salomon

The college will offer most of its fall semester classes online only, college officials announced on Wednesday.

Lab classes in health sciences and potentially some studio art classes could be back in classrooms in the fall “if the governor lifts some of the restrictions at the state level that prohibit travel and non-essential work,” Vice President for Learning Mike Gavin told Campus Current. Those classes would require students and faculty to adhere to “very rigid social distancing protocol,” he said.

Classes that begin on Aug. 31—the first day of the fall 2020 semester—and will run for 15, 13, or eight-weeks will be online, Gavin said.

The fall semester will start one week later than last year, as the semester always begins the week before Labor Day.

Administrators have not yet decided whether eight-week classes that begin on Oct. 26 will be offered online only or in classrooms. Gavin said he expects that decision to come by Aug. 31.

Gavin said AACC is ahead of most other Maryland colleges in announcing a decision for fall.

“We collectively, at the college, agreed that it would be better to just let students know upon registration what they were signing up for, rather than have them sign up in a scenario where they’re waiting to see if it’s going to be face to face,” Gavin said.

Some students said the college should have waited to make the decision.

“It’s pretty early to make that decision,” fifth-year music student Will Kuethe said. “It would’ve been better to wait until this summer.”

Others said they might sit out for a semester, so they don’t have to take all of their classes online.

Second-year transfer studies student Annabelle Browne, for example, said she’s less likely to take classes in the fall.

“I’m probably less inclined to sign-up for classes,” Browne said. “I don’t really like online classes.”

But third-year media production student David Stemmle said he will take classes online this fall.

“Although I’m not the best at online classes, I think I’m going to have to learn to adapt and take them this fall,” Stemmle said.

All summer classes are scheduled for online delivery as well, but Gavin said some health sciences labs and studio art classes could run on campus if Gov. Larry Hogan lifts restrictions forbidding travel and non-essential work.

The college could limit enrollment in any on-campus classes to no more than 10 students who must stay six feet apart, according to Gavin.

The college also may designate entrance and exit doors in campus buildings and mark staircases for walking up or down only.

The second set of eight-week fall classes, starting Oct. 26, may have face-to-face classes depending on

Some students said they would not feel safe returning to campus for on-line classes by then.

Second-year architecture and interior design student Calvin Marzouk said he probably will not enroll in physical classes.

“I would definitely try and take online classes first, but as more information comes out and things develop, I’d definitely reassess that,” Marzouk said.

But Kuethe said he would take physical classes this fall if that’s an option.

Gavin noted that faculty members will determine whether to schedule their online classes so their students all have to log on at the same time to attend regular sessions—similar to face-to-face courses. Some faculty members may offer classes that do not require attendance at set times.

The college canceled some fall courses that require students to participate in person.

“Some of these health sciences programs require the students … to go on ride-alongs with an ambulance, and the hospitals are not allowing them,” Gavin said. “So, we had to cancel the course.”

Along with this the college cancelled non-credit courses in which facilities using those programs shut down.