POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Community College is moving safely forward while keeping students, faculty and staff at the center of all decisions in the midst of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
“We are here every day, all day trying to address every need we can see on the horizon,” Pearl River President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “We are upbeat and optimistic about doing everything we can to help be a part of the solution in this pandemic while continuing to move forward with our educational opportunities.”
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Pearl River has extended spring break for students through Friday, March 27, with classes resuming in an online format Monday, March 30.
At this time, no offices will be open to the public. Essential personnel will be taking care of day-to-day business in various offices with others working remotely. Pearl River is developing strategies to allow as many people as possible to work from home with the use of technology.
PRCC has continuously invested in eLearning technology and training resources over the past several years and Breerwood feels the institution is more than prepared for the upcoming transition.
“We have over 2,000 students already enrolled in online classes,” Breerwood said. “Many of our instructors already had their courses in an online format and those people who have been traditionally teaching face-to-face have been very open to learning and willing to do what’s necessary to make this transition.
“We know there will be difficulties students will have to overcome. We know we will need to provide resources and assist students in this transition and we are willing to do so to the best of our ability.”
In recent years Pearl River has offered numerous training opportunities through its eLearning department for online instruction. The allocation of eLearning resources, including the hiring of two fully online instructors in the last year, has contributed to a 36 percent increase in online course registration in the last 30 months for Pearl River.
As the semester is finished up in this online format instructors acknowledge that this transition is going to be an adjustment for many students.
“Instructors understand that many students are apprehensive about moving to the online environment and we want students to know that we will be on this journey with them,” Pearl River speech instructor Dr. Lindsey Lewis said. “New challenges bring new opportunities for growth and the Wildcat community will emerge from these trying times stronger than ever.”
Academic advising is continuing to take place through the use of phone calls, email and Zoom conference correspondence as students prepare to register for upcoming semesters.
HANDS ON LEARNING
With several Career and Technical programs and lab-based courses being offered as part of Pearl River’s varied curriculum, alternative learning opportunities are being explored that consider both student health and their future career objectives.
“For certain programs students will have to come together,” Breerwood said. “However, we will not be bringing the entire class in at one time. We plan to implement more of a hybrid approach where necessary while making sure students are in a safe, sanitized environment.”
Pearl River’s campus is currently undergoing a thorough sanitization and buildings not necessary for operation are being closed.
Career and Technical and lab-based instructors are keeping in contact with their students as to organize the best instruction options for their specific needs.
With more than 800 dorm students ordinarily residing in campus housing at Pearl River’s Poplarville location, Breerwood understands the importance of continuing to ensure student safety during this time.
“It would be easy for us to just say ‘dorms are completely closed,’” Breerwood said. “But we are trying to assist anyone that is in a difficult situation. If there is a need for a student to live in college housing they will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
Students have been provided a request form if they are in need of continued campus housing and those wishing to stay will considered individually. PRCC administrators have communicated times to dorm students when they will be allowed to retrieve items from the residence halls. In accordance with social distancing, limited numbers of students will be allowed in the dorm at one time.
Pearl River administrators are staying in regular contact with dorm students through email as to what options are available to them moving forward in the semester.
“This is game changer for higher education in a lot of ways,” Breerwood said. “We take pride in being a historically traditional institution. However, I hope this will bring the comfortability people feel with online learning to a point where we can reach more potential students and offer them a high quality education.”
Pearl River’s Cabinet and members of its Administrative Counsel are meeting daily and will continue to provide updates as new information is obtained.
To stay up to date with COVID-19 information visit PRCC.edu/coronavirus.
Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication please contact Tonia M. Seal, Director of Admissions and Records/ ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator at P.O. Box 5559, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060 or Maghan James, Assistant Vice President of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator at P.O. Box 5805, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1132.