By Dr. Hara Charlier, President of Central Lakes College
It’s remarkable that only a few short months ago we took the initial steps to deal with COVID-19. Since then, the pandemic has dramatically altered our lives in ways we will always remember. Although there are still unknowns about the future, this much is certain: Central Lakes College will be open in the fall and ready to welcome students, and we are doing so with great flexibility.
Let’s address the big question on people’s minds: What will that fall semester look like? There is no question that the health and safety of our students and employees is our top priority. We also know that the needs of our students and programs varies widely, and our mission demands that we meet those needs. Therefore, we’re planning a combination of in-person and online instruction, with a great deal of flexibility built in. Students can count on getting what they need while staying safe.
For many of our traditional courses, coming to campus will be optional. This is possible by using our Live Online and Hy Flex courses that allow students to attend live, in-person if conditions permit or online, in real-time from the safety of their homes. We are proud to give our students in our technical courses practical, hands-on education, and we will live up to that commitment. This fall, those courses will also use some online components, but students can count on coming to our labs and shops for in-person work in a careful and safe environment. Our faculty are ready to adjust the schedule as needed to make sure students get the education they need and stay safe.
Our faculty are constantly adjusting to meet each student’s needs. One example comes from Natural Resources instructor Kent Montgomery, who connects to his incoming students through Zoom. While Covid-19 restrictions prevented him from meeting with students in-person over the summer, his well-crafted Zoom video productions gave students and their families a unique glimpse into his classroom.
Kent added, “Programs and instructors have been reaching out to new and returning students using varieties of technology. Students have been updated on the latest plans for delivering classes in the fall and they will still receive the same quality education that CLC is been known for, regardless of the method of delivery.”
New programs provide new opportunities, and fall 2020 will bring plenty. Our new Culinary Arts Program coming to our Staples campus is a perfect example. This program is the result of collaboration of the entire community and features working both in our Staples campus commercial kitchen and getting significant experiences in many local establishments. We are grateful to our K-12 partners, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, and our restaurants and resorts for working so hard to bring this much-anticipated program to fruition. We are also excited about several new programs that allow students to seamlessly transfer to universities. This year, we launch transfer pathways in Fine Arts, Social Work, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Exercise Science, Psychology and Sociology.