PCC moves into ‘sustained reopening’ phase as more in-person classes, services return to campuses
Photos and Story by James Hill
When Portland Community College moved to remote operations back in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were plenty of questions about how instruction and services would work without access to physical campuses. Those questions were emphatically answered through the innovation, hard work and dedication of staff and faculty, and it has put PCC on a solid foundation for the future.
A few of the highlights include:
- The Rock Creek’s Choral and Vocal Studies Program students met online to learn their music, warm up and then rehearse their songs.
- In biology classes across the college, research moved from the lab to students’ homes as they performed experiments to satisfy course requirements.
- PCC’s ceramics instructors stepped up by helping their students to create at-home art studios so they can participate in online classes and work on projects during virtual lab hours.
- The Electronic Engineering Technology and Microelectronics Technology programs secured funding to provide students with home kits to practice their engineering skills.
- A collaborative effort between college departments created virtual High School Senior Sessions to give prospective new students a chance to connect with staff and learn about the process of becoming a PCC student.
- And PCC Counseling offered free remote mental health counseling services to all PCC credit students.
Fall Sustained Reopening Resources
Wondering what is what during PCC’s “sustained reopening” phase this fall term? Here are some handy links to help answer questions surrounding the PCC community’s return to campus.
- A list of in-person classes offered this fall term.
- Need help getting started at PCC? Contact the admissions staff for support. Current students can visit the Virtual Help tab in MyPCC to find remote support options for PCC services.
- For specific questions related to fall term, send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend an open QA session.
Since spring term, PCC’s critical career-technical education (CTE) programs have slowly returned to some in-person training. This includes the dental sciences programs, which have reopened to students at their new third floor lab in the Vanport Building near Portland State University. When spring term began on March 29, these students were finally able to return to the classroom for resumption of in-person classes and training, which continues this term under COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
All this was accomplished despite the college working through the “One College for Equitable Student Success” reorganization initiative. This is where leadership is busy implementing success pathways and developing academic infrastructure that align with PCC’s five-year strategic plan. Part of this restructuring includes YES to Equitable Student Success (YESS), which has resulted in PCC’s graduating classes of the past three years experiencing the highest graduation rates PCC has ever recorded.
Those developments and lessons learned have put PCC in a good position as it transitions to a “sustained reopening” phase for fall term. As part of this phase, 75 programs and services return to campuses and centers. However, returning to learning and work will look different than what might have been expected. The process won’t include opening the doors and going back to precisely the way things had been, pre-pandemic.
The college has created a set of guiding principles to assist in the reopening planning. It continues to evaluate protocols, developing additional guidance and support for the upcoming academic year as needed.
“We are still in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui. “The overall health and safety of our communities as well as a commitment to being equity-minded in our decision-making have been at the center of our processes.”
For this phase — which features some classes and services returning to campus for in-person activities — the college is not requiring students, staff or faculty to get vaccinated. The college’s reopening phases are based on the health and safety guidelines by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and other state and federal authorities. While there is not a mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations to work or enroll at PCC at the moment, the college strongly encourages employees and students to get vaccinated.
PCC has initiatives underway to encourage COVID vaccinations, including vaccination clinics at Cascade and Southeast campuses, and Willow Creek. With this in mind, face coverings will be required in all indoor spaces, with some exceptions for eating, drinking, athletics, showering, and when individuals are alone in a closed room. PCC adopted the current OHA outdoor face coverings rules, where masks are required outside as well.
“PCC believes in vaccines,” Mitsui added. “Being vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves, others, and our communities from this deadly virus.”
For more details on PCC’s vaccine clinics, visit the COVID-19 vaccination webpage.
On Campus Activities
Physical distancing of six feet won’t be required, with a few exceptions and occupancy in instructional rooms will be up 75% of seating.
Returning to work, PCC has published a list of departments returning in the fall. Employees should check in with their manager to see if there are any plans for their department.
All of the campus libraries will be open for limited in-person services, including access to computers. The library hours will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, virtual library services are still available from the library website all days and hours.
Health and Safety
Health and safety will be prioritized as students and staff re-enter buildings to access classrooms and services. Facilities Management Services (FMS) is using the CDC recommendations for air ventilation systems, water systems, and cleaning/disinfecting procedures in order to maintain a healthy work/school environment.
FMS is following water bureau guidelines for flushing building water systems and ensuring that water quality is safe for building re-occupancy along with the FMS the CDC Guidance for Building Water Systems to re-open buildings temporarily shutdown or in reduced operations.
PCC has implemented enhanced cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting procedures for surfaces (especially frequently touched surfaces) during the COVID pandemic. These procedures are aligned with CDC’s guidance for performing routine cleaning and performing enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility.
For further health and safety guidelines visit the PCC coronavirus webpage.