Coronavirus outbreak brings college campuses to close

Editors Note: ‘Covid on Campus’ is a four-part series. This is the first part on the Coronavirus and its impact on the College.

Even in the best of times, life for students at South Plains College is not easy. 

The spread of the Novel Coronavirus has pushed colleges across the nation to transition to online classes. 

The pandemic is also having a major effect on high school seniors, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, causing one out of six seniors to rethink their decision to enroll full-time this fall. Instead, 35 percent may decide to take a “gap year,” 35 percent may enroll part-time in a four-year college, 7 percent may enroll in a two-year college, 6 percent will work full time, and 13 percent are undecided. 

One major role that comes into play when a student is choosing a college is a campus visit. In an effort to comply with the recent Shelter in Place Orders in Hockley and Lubbock counties, all of the college’s campus locations have been closed until further notice. 

On March 12, the SPC Board of Regents met to discuss the transition to online for all Arts and Sciences classes and how it would affect students on all campuses. 

“It became quickly evident that we would need to move to an online format when the news of the pandemic first emerged,” said Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of SPC. “This move shifted to an exclusive shift to online education for all courses on March 19.  This news was immediately shared with students, faculty, and staff.”

Dr. Satterwhite explained that initially the Regents had considered shifting only a portion of courses to online and planned to continue to meet in small groups for the more hands-on, intensive courses. However, working within CDC guidelines for social distancing, it was not the best course of action for students and faculty at SPC.  

“Although it was a very difficult decision, I am confident that shifting to an online format for all courses at SPC was the right decision,” said Dr. Satterwhite.  “Our two main focuses at SPC have been the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff; and maintaining the delivery of education to our students.”

On March 24,  a letter was sent to all residential students on campus via email by Shane Hill, the associate dean of students.

The letter strongly encouraged students to remain at their permanent residence for their own safety, as well as the safety of others on campus. 

“[The email] included directions for retrieving personal items, properly checking out of their rooms, and the process for prorated refunds, if applicable,” said Dean Hill. “Residents were also allowed to submit a request to remain on campus if need be.”

A video message also went out to students on March 24 from Dr.Satterwhite. He shared several key messages to students asking them to be patient with the shift and give online education a chance.  

“I know it is not the preferred method for many of our students and faculty, but it is our only option at this time,” he said. “I am hopeful that students will invest the time and energy to maintain their educational goals.”

Dr. Satterwhite encourages students to continue to do their best to remain isolated from public areas. He asks all students, faculty, and staff to make sure to protect themselves through increased hygiene, keep others safe by staying at home, and to stay encouraged through these difficult times.

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