RALEIGH, N.C. - The State Board of Community Colleges approved five relief measures Thursday aimed at helping colleges manage expenses and instructional changes during the COVID-19 emergency.
The temporary measures will:
- Allow colleges to make up instructional time as a result of the pandemic, similar to flexibility during hurricanes and other weather events
- Give colleges the flexibility to apply tuition, registration fees and other fees paid for Spring 2020 courses to future courses if a student is unable to complete a course due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19
- Allow colleges to use student activity fees to address impacts associated with the COVID-19 outbreak
- Allow colleges to use instructional technology fees to address impacts associated with the outbreak, such as purchasing computers and other technology
- Allow colleges to use excess bookstore revenues to address impacts associated with the COVID-19 outbreak
NC Community College System President Peter Hans said the state's 58 community colleges are working together to confront an unprecedented crisis, while continuing to serve students through online education.
"Community colleges are incredibly resilient," Hans said. "We adapt to community needs, we adapt to student needs, no matter how difficult. This time will be no different. There's nothing easy about this situation, but we always find a way to make it work, to get it done."
So far, colleges have extended their spring breaks, canceled classes and moved to online instruction. Earlier this week, Hans issued guidelines to colleges to wind down face-to-face classes that cannot be conducted online, with exceptions for critical public safety and public health courses.
These include law enforcement, fire and emergency medical training and nursing. Colleges have the option of continuing these classes if students and faculty follow social distancing methods, if students are willing to participate and if the colleges provide appropriate protective equipment.
Hans said community colleges want to help the state through the challenging period ahead by providing a well-prepared public health and public safety workforce.
"This is where the state needs us now, perhaps more than ever," he said.
In other action, the State Board approved new presidents for Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Gaston College and Western Piedmont Community College. They are:
- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College - John Gossett, president of McDowell Technical Community College since 2016, will lead A-B Tech, starting July 1. Also a former administrator and faculty member at Mayland Community College, Gossett succeeds Dennis King, who retired in January.
- Gaston College - John Hauser, president of Carteret Community College and former administrator at Wilkes Community College, will lead Gaston College, starting June 1. He succeeds Patricia Skinner, who retired this month.
- Western Piedmont Community College - Joel Welch, provost and vice president for transformative learning at Forsyth Technical Community College, will become president of Western Piedmont July 1. He succeeds Michael Helmick, who will retire in June.