Pearl River Community College buzzed with excitement Monday as students returned to campus for a semester with new safety protocols in place.
“The return of our students immediately reenergized our campuses,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “As expected our faculty, staff and students adapted quickly to our new COVID-19 protocols and safety requirements. As I walked around campus today I sensed a high level of excitement and anticipation for a wonderful school year.”
Pearl River’s Fall semester began long before students stepped on campus Monday. Months of gathering information and decision making culminated in safety protocols being put into place across its locations. Signs were hung at key points around campus that include QR codes to direct students and employees to instant access of COVID-19 protocols and updates. Buildings were sanitized, 26 temperature kiosks were installed, desks were moved to account for social distancing guidelines and more than 5,000 face masks were purchased to provide students protection free of charge. Wellness self-check emails are also sent to employees each morning before they arrive.
“The first day of classes have been very exciting,” Vice President for Forrest County Center, Allied Health and Nursing Programs Dr. Jana Causey said. “Our students have done a great job of social distancing, temperature monitoring, and appropriately wearing masks. Our faculty have diligently worked to provide a safe and engaging instructional environment despite all the challenges. We are committed to providing our students with the support they need to rise above these circumstances. I have complete confidence that we are going to overcome the obstacles of COVID-19 because Wildcats Never Quit!”
Mask distribution centers were set up on each campus Monday for students to pick-up at their convenience. Pearl River students were also greeted in the Great Hall by Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic thanks to a telehealth partnership offered for dorm students allowing them access to 24/7 health care options.
With instructors utilizing HyFlex teaching, students were given the option to learn in a traditional face-to-face setting or online in real time. By working out learning opportunities with each individual class, instructors were able to meet the needs of each individual student.
“Monday afternoon, I sent a message to department chairs asking how things were going in their respective worlds,” Senior Vice President of Instruction and Provost Dr. Martha Lou Smith said. “The replies were all positive. While Pearl River is consciously providing options for students, both instructors and students are glad to be back on campus when possible and logical. There is a degree of comfort in things that are slightly ‘normal.’”
The classrooms look different than they did when they were filled more than five months ago, but instructors welcomed students back to a “new normal” in an effort to keep everyone safe.
“I was so excited to see my students again,” Spanish Instructor Robin Nix said. “I’ve taught three classes so far today and 100 percent of the students had their masks on. It’s also been great to have cleaning wipes and GermX in our classrooms to keep things sanitized for everyone.”
While this year will be more socially distanced than previous ones, PRCC students recognize the work faculty and staff have put into building the best environment for them to succeed.
“This semester is definitely going to look different,” PRCC sophomore Ethan Spiers said. “However, I can tell the professors have worked hard to set a plan that enables us to thrive despite a pandemic.”
As registration for full-term, short-term and online classes continue at Pearl River, administrators are seamlessly adapting to incoming information.
“When our students left in March we immediately began to plan for their return,” Breerwood said. “It was evident today that all members of our campus community are embracing their responsibility to alleviate any challenges COVID-19 may present. Wildcats never quit.”
Those interested in joining the Wildcat Family still have time to register and can visit PRCC.EDU to learn more.
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.