Since December, international news coverage has kept the public informed about COVID-19. In recent weeks in the U.S., as state and local officials have released guidelines, it became apparent that PCC needed to make a transition to protect its students’ health.
On Thursday, March 12, PCC announced during a livestream that plans were in the works should officials advise on limited gatherings. Those plans were accelerated within two days based on recommendations from Florida’s Department of Education. Addressing students (and parents viewing the livestream), President Troy Shoemaker expressed PCC’s commitment to providing academic support to complete all college courses within the current academic calendar. “We’ve worked it out so that every student can fully meet the requirements for each course without having to stay on campus,” he said. “This includes those in internships and preceptorships. Some of you have special considerations like you’re a graphic design major and you need special software—we have you covered.”
After Saturday’s announcement, PCC began transitioning to online learning, and students were given the option to return home for the remainder of the semester. Students staying on campus were invited to take advantage of available student employment opportunities as they continue their online courses on campus, receiving free room and board by working 15 or more hours each week. Classes were paused for a week to allow students time to solidify their final residence and for faculty to complete the online transition before resuming classes on March 23.
“I thought that Dr. Shoemaker displayed great leadership in the decision he made,” said Nathanael Finneran (Sr., OH). “A lot of people seemed concerned for the future but relieved that they could go home if they chose to. Once we begin online classes, we’ll be able to interact with our teacher without picking up germs as we go to different academic buildings throughout the day. We can stay in a stationary place and continue our classes without having to worry.”
After the announcement that morning, the graduating class of 2020 took Saturday evening to celebrate with the Senior Class Party—an event moved up a week for seniors to commemorate their time together. The following days were filled with phone calls with family members and, for some students, packing and preparing for trips home.
William Job (Jr., ME) was one of a majority of the student body who chose to leave campus. “With President Trump declaring a national emergency and the cases of COVID-19 increasing daily, I knew that I should probably leave campus. The national emergency can affect domestic travel, and, although I enjoy being at college, it’s not the same as being at home with family,” he said. “I’ve actually never done an online class before so this will be a new experience for me, but I think the faculty at PCC are diligent and will be well prepared for this.”
While the transition to online learning is unprecedented, the timing couldn’t have been better—right after midterms and the mid-semester White Glove cleaning in the residence halls. Dr. Troy Shoemaker encouraged the student body about the changes to the weeks ahead. “This will be an adventure that we all take together,” he said.