Onondaga Community College is planning to fully open campus for face-to-face instruction this fall in the hope of returning to some sense of normal. President Dr. Casey Crabill says they’ll closely follow county, state, and SUNY guidance as August 30th approaches.
"If we have to wear masks, we will. If we need to test, we know how to do that. We've learned enough over the past 18 months to be able to operate safely in whatever the conditions are in the fall."
Like most colleges, OCC has limited in person classes during the pandemic. But Crabill says students in health programs had real-world experience.
"Our medical assisting students really ran our campus testing for a good six months. It was great hands-on: Customer interaction, dealing with data and medical conditions. It was good for them."
Crabill says the pandemic created some unexpected changes in student enrollment.
"We got some students at OCC who probably wouldn't have come to OCC had there not been a pandemic. We didn't see a whole lot of students that we expected to see. My guess is they sat out education. A lot of families were not sure how this was going to go, and I don't blame them for sitting out. I think there's a group on the sidelines who are now trying to figure out what's next."
Crabill says overall, they did see a 16 percent enrollment decrease. But this fall, students will have more opportunities. OCC has created nine new degree programs and transfer opportunities in health sciences, health studies, drone technology, and others in order to meet employer needs. Also this fall…the Lazers teams will resume regular competition this fall, which Crabill says will satisfy athletes who yearn for the balance between classes and the field or court. She says the pandemic hasn’t cost the college its energy or its spirit.
"I think we're coming out of this a very driven institution. We've done a lot of work during this pandemic mode that will pivot us in ways to be useful to our community going forward."
Crabill says it’s too soon to tell if applications will be up or down for fall. They are offering in-person open houses next week. More information and registration can be found here.