Suffolk County Community College Prepares For More In-Person Classes In the Spring Semester


Taylor Hayes, Editor in Chief

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that everything in life is subject to change, and the willingness to adapt is a must. Students have developed a respectable amount of resilience as the ever-changing Covid mandates and protocols change, and online learning becomes the new normal.

“Right now, we will have 70 percent of classes in-person and 30 percent will be online,” said Patricia Munsch, the Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC.)

After seeing the demand for more in-person classes as students make their schedules, SCCC administration decided to move towards more in-person class options for next semester. SCCC made this decision out of hopes it would satisfy the needs of students who have struggled with online learning or have steered away from taking classes due to the lack of in-person options.

Munsch notes that the hope is that the infection rate at SCCC will remain low and that enrollment will increase. Students and staff will continue to have to wear masks in classrooms and inside buildings despite vaccine status.

” It’s time to come back. I think there are faculty members that are really excited to come back. If we see more students registering for more online sections, then we will offer more. It’s up to the students to decide,” added Munsch.

This past semester, there were 9,356 students enrolled in in-person classes throughout all three campuses. Although this number sounds large, enrollment was down by eight percent, according to Munsch.

SCCC students are unable to register for in-person classes without proof of vaccination.

According to New York Times (NYT) data in an article published on Nov. 23, the positivity for COVID-19 rate in Suffolk County is lower, and the hospitalization rates have remained about the same. Numbers have shown that unvaccinated individuals are at a much greater risk of developing complications from covid-19 than vaccinated.

According to the same NYT article, 523 cases of Covid were reported in Suffolk County per day for the past two weeks. At SCCC, students’ safety is measured through contact tracing as the primary tool alongside masking up and mandatory vaccines for in-person students.

“We recognized students’ frustrations with more students looking for in-person opportunities,” said Munsch. It is possible that enrollment could have been lower than usual due to the financial burdens that the pandemic has caused on many people, mixed with the new opportunities in employment, as many establishments have been hiring, Munsch added.

According to Munsch, since Jan. 11, 2021, 35 in-person students reported a positive COVID-19 test to SCCC, indicating a significantly low infection rate.

Like many of the programs at SCCC, some have faced challenges adapting to online. Nursing students, for example, are conducting in-person classes throughout the semester due to the hands-on nature of the field.

The nursing program at SCCC has been instrumental in preventing COVID-19 by having students volunteer at vaccination pods on campus this past spring.

Cheryl Shaffer, the College Associate Dean of the School Of Nursing at SCCC, says that nursing students are expected to be prepared to practice from a base of scientific evidence. The nursing faculty expect that nursing students uphold the truth, the principles of the Code of Ethics for Nurses, and the highest scientific standards when disseminating information about COVID-19 or any other health-related condition or situation.

This information is subject to change as students register for classes; the college will re-assess the availability of online courses based on the student’s preference in scheduling and the COVID-19 infection rates. COVID-19 testing is available for all students by an outside agency on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

While students, faculty, and staff have dealt with a variety of challenges over the last two years, Suffolk County Community College is prepared to get back to the objective of providing quality education in a safe environment.