While there is some hope for in-person classes in Fall Quarter, nothing is certain, Highline officials say.
And remote learning is still the basis of all current planning.
Highline has been largely remote since the end of Winter Quarter last year, due to the spread of COVID-19.
Staff and faculty are now in the process of chalking out plans for summer and fall.
“Faculty coordinators are currently developing summer and fall schedules, and executive cabinet will be providing guidance as to whether we will be remote or on campus,” Highline President Dr. John Mosby said. “Depending on conditions, the modalities may change.”
Fall is still up in the air, but Summer Quarter is more likely to continue online, he said.
“We don’t think we will be back in ‘full swing’ for summer, and perhaps not for fall. It feels easier to bring back some classes to campus, more likely for fall than for summer,” Dr. Mosby said.
While these decisions are being made, remote learning will also continue to be the foundation and fallback.
Dr. Emily Lardner
“Remote is not solidified – it’s the basis for our planning. If things change, and we can bring classes back to campus safely, we will work with faculty and staff to do so,” Dr. Mosby said. “And our goal is to make that call in as timely a way as we can. If we find out before registration starts for summer and fall that we can bring back classes, we will let students know.”
As the state continues to adjust to changes surrounding COVID, Highline will also adjust to whatever regulations and guidance is given going forward, he said.
“We are constantly revising our procedures using best available science and guidance from public health officials,” said Dr. Mosby. “Planning is under way.”
Highline Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Emily Lardner said that even if conditions permit a campus return, it’s still unclear how that implementation will look.
“We don’t know which sections would come to campus,” Dr. Lardner said. “Those decisions depend on multiple factors: faculty willingness and ability to teach on campus, student interest in attending class on campus, and physical space.”
Faculty can currently apply to bring courses to campus that they feel can’t be taught online. But this process has been extremely limited since the pandemic began.
Dr. Lardner said that once conditions permit, the college will be able to start opening the process to more faculty and courses.
“The process will be the same — faculty explain why they want to or need to teach on campus and develop safety plans,” Dr. Lardner said. “What will change is that the criteria will become more open in terms of what is allowed to be taught.”
“As soon as the public health data allows, and maybe as soon as this summer, we will begin to phase in more use of campus spaces, most likely for courses that are offered in hybrid modalities,” she said.
Any eventual changes will, however, have to be implemented slowly and with extreme care.
“When we do start moving classes back to campus, we want to do so in a way that limits the spread of infection,” Lardner said. “We will start small so we start safely, and then expand.”
In order for any of this to happen, she said, much still needs to change in the pandemic. When and how those changes will occur is uncertain.
But the college is keeping ready and working to prepare for that eventuality, Dr. Lardner said.
“We know we will come back to campus at some point, and we know that process will be a gradual one,” she said. “Every move we make is informed by our commitment to the safety of students, staff, and faculty, and guided by the available public health guidelines.”