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Task force to prep community colleges for ‘new normal’

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Glenn DuBois, the chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, named a new statewide task force today to examine and propose changes in how community colleges operate to meet the needs of Virginia students and businesses in a post-pandemic “new normal.”

The task force has until May 15 to offer recommendations for the Fall 2020 semester and until Aug. 15 to recommend longer-term changes.

“What do we need to be, and to do, to help those who have lost their jobs retrain for their next career? What about university-bound students having second thoughts because of health concerns or changing family finances? What about the families in rural Virginia who lack convenient high-speed Internet service? These circumstances demand a hard look at how we on-board students, the services we provide for them, and how we schedule our courses and programs,” said DuBois.

Over the past month, Virginia’s Community Colleges have converted thousands of traditional, in-person classes to online and remote formats. Further, it has adopted a flexible pass/no pass grading scale for Spring 2020 courses to ensure students were not unfairly disadvantaged by the pandemic and subsequent quarantine. Community college leaders say that is only the beginning.

“Now is not the time to hunker down and wait for everything to return to normal. Instead, now is the time to be innovative in planning how VCCS will continue to be the engine for economic mobility and opportunity for all Virginians,” said DuBois.

Anne Kress, the president of Northern Virginia Community College and Sharon Morrissey, the VCCS senior vice chancellor for Academic and Workforce Programs will co-chair the 16-member panel, which includes two other community college presidents and leaders from every community college functional area.

Planning for an uncertain future; understanding how remote teaching and support services affect equity, student expectations, enrollment choices, and academic success; and continuing hands-on practical training in a time of social distancing are among the challenges the task force is being asked to tackle.

“Community colleges are nimble and innovative. We take pride in being student-centered and equity minded. We brag about being flexible and adaptive and responsive. Now, our future-focus is more important than ever,” said DuBois.

Task Force Members

Anne Kress  Northern Virginia Community College co-chair
Sharon Morrissey VCCS System Office    co-chair
Tom Canupp  Danville Community College
Cynthia Deutsch Central Virginia Community College
Dale Dulaney  Virginia Western Community College
Michelle Edmonds Southside Virginia Community College
Shashuna Gray Germanna Community College
Joe Hagy  Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
Adam Hutchison Virginia Highlands Community College
Perry Hughes  Wytheville Community College
Quentin Johnson Southside Virginia Community College
Chris Lee  The College of William & Mary
*Corey McCray  Tidewater Community College
Terricita Sass  Reynolds Community College
Fred Taylor  John Tyler Community College
Ian Taylor  Thomas Nelson Community College

The work of the task force will be supplemented by support staff from the VCCS System Office and professional subject-matter peer groups that include faculty and staff from across Virginia’s 23 community colleges.