Prairie State College Pivots to a Virtual Campus Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Prairie State College
Prairie State College (Source: prairiestate.edu)

Chicago Heights, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced last week a Stay-at-Home Order for the state of Illinois, through April 7, echoing the efforts already made by Prairie State College (PSC) to transition to a virtual campus. This means, for the remainder of the spring semester, all face-to-face instruction, on-campus services, and more are now offered solely online. The decision, as stated on the PSC COVID-19 webpage, was made after careful consideration and in response to state and federal recommendations to help contain the COVID-19 virus and “flatten the curve.”

“Our priority during this time of uncertainty is to balance the well-being of our students and PSC employees while continuing to provide access to education and resources,” said Dr. Terri L. Winfree, PSC president. “To keep this balance, we have to make continuous adjustments to ensure students are getting the support they need to finish the semester strong, and PSC employees have the tools needed to help them succeed.”

Classes resumed on Monday, March 23, after the regularly scheduled Spring Break was extended a week to allow faculty time to swiftly prepare for the transition from in-person to online courses, and for all PSC employees to shift from being in the office to working remotely.

To assist with the transition, the PSC Information Technology Resources (ITR) Department offered fast-tracked training that covered an array of topics including Desire 2 Learn (D2L), ways to create quizzes online, and how to host meetings in real-time.

Since spring break, faculty have implemented online learning, utilizing the college’s online learning management system, D2L, and other tools, including Google Hangouts and Zoom Video Communications, to give students face-to-face instruction remotely. Associate Professor of History Justin Pariseau says he uses PowerPoint with narration to cover some of the content that he would have otherwise discussed in class. 

“I also am using Screencast-O-Matic to record mini-lectures, and YouTube to host the content to generate closed captioning in the interests of universal design and accessibility,” he said.

PSC employees also are holding meetings through the video platforms, and using Google Suite and email to minimize the impact on day-to-day operations at the college. 

This transition has not only been an adjustment for faculty and staff; it has presented challenges for PSC students, especially those who may not have the resources they need to finish their courses. In response to a growing need for support, the college has compiled an ongoing list of resources to assist at #resources.

In addition, the PSC Foundation has established an Emergency Relief Fund to meet the demand for financial support during this unprecedented time. Those interested in donating can do so at https://www.classy.org (actual link is longer than what appears here).

“I want to thank all students, faculty, staff, and community members for their patience and cooperation as we continue to navigate through the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Winfree. 

Winfree says the college will continue to operate virtually until further notice. More information will be shared as the situation develops. Updates will also be available regularly at https://prairiestate.edu/covid19.

This is news from Prairie State College.

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