Pandemic Forces PCC to Significantly Alter Spring Semester

Ordinarily brimming with activity when classes are in session, PCC's Robert Lee Humber Building has been mostly vacant this month, along with many other campus facilities. Spring break, which was scheduled to run March 8-15, was extended an extra week for students, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many employees have been working from home the past week to reduce social interaction that could spread the virus. Though classes resume March 22, nearly all of them will be taught online.

WINTERVILLE—When Pitt Community College students left for Spring Break earlier this month, it’s a safe bet they weren’t expecting a viral pandemic would keep a vast majority of them away from campus for the foreseeable future.

But that’s the case at PCC, where employees are making preparations for classes to resume Monday – one week later than expected, due to the worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In a move unprecedented in Pitt’s nearly 60-year history, college administrators canceled extracurricular activities, including intercollegiate athletics and student club meetings, and extended Spring Break to give faculty and staff time to transition traditional classroom instruction to online coursework.

“I understand there is disappointment, fear and frustration, but I can assure you our faculty and staff have performed admirably in the last week to prepare for many scenarios,” PCC President Lawrence Rouse wrote in a letter to the campus community on Wednesday. “I am greatly encouraged, and we should all be proud of the efforts we have taken to ensure our students’ needs are met in this trying time.”

PCC Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Development Tom Gould said the instructional delivery changes the college has made are intended to safeguard students and employees from the virus, which is highly contagious. The measures, he said, are a direct result of social distancing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Traditional and hybrid curriculum classes, Gould said, have been shifted entirely to alternative learning platforms that go live Monday. A limited number of classes with essential lab components will meet in person but will follow CDC safety recommendations, he said, adding that college administrators will reassess the situation April 3.

“Community has been central to our college for almost 60 years,” Rouse said. “As we transition to alternative instructional methods and practice social distancing, it is important we do not lose that sense of community.”

In addition to creating a coronavirus information page for students, the college established a “PCC Student Coronavirus Hotline” (252-493-7245) they may call Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., for general information and answers to general questions.

For current PCC students in need of computer access, the college has made select campus computer labs available for their use. Work stations will be disinfected frequently at those locations, which are listed on the coronavirus information page.

Students and campus visitors, in general, are not allowed on the PCC campus if they meet any of the following conditions:

  • Feeling ill;
  • Experiencing/displaying any COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Been exposed to an individual known to have COVID-19;
  • Recently traveled by airplane; and/or
  • Recently traveled to an out-of-state location.

“The days ahead may be challenging as we face unprecedented actions required to ensure the health and safety of our loved ones and community,” Rouse said. “I want to reassure you that our community will get through these challenges.”