NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Virtual town hall highlights plans for fall classes

Monday, March 29, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs William “Bill” Heineman, and Director of Student Success Management Audrey Ellis hosted a Virtual Town Hall meeting via Zoom to update students and parents on NECC’s most current plan for conducting courses in the Fall.

Earlier this month, NECC announced that for the Fall 2021 semester, they would be offering four different options to accommodate students’ academic needs: classes in-person, hybrid classes with one day a week on-campus, online asynchronous classes, and online classes with weekly virtual meetings.

With the uncertainty of the pandemic, NECC staff made it clear that the plans for the future could be subject to modification.

“For the summer, we will be staying mainly online with a couple of hybrid options, but for the fall we’re trying to give students more options for learning,” Bill Heineman said. “In the fall there will be more courses offered on campus, but as of right now, we are only offering a select few. We want to see what students are considering first, then we can add more on-campus courses.”

Students also raised concerns over the availability of in-between class spaces such as academic centers and the library on-campus in the Fall.

“The more students that are on campus, the more in-between class areas that will have to be available to you,” Heineman said. “Certain factors like opening the academic center, library and the number of in-person courses available will all be determined by student behavior in the upcoming semester.”

Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Mezquita assured graduating students that they will in fact be having an in-person graduation ceremony this year.

“Our commencement this year will be in person. Because of the large number of students graduating, we’re thinking of doing five different ceremonies based on each individual academic center,” Mezquita said. “We also want to include any students that have graduated this past year in the celebration.”

“Just know you will have the opportunity to celebrate your success,” she said.

Students also expressed curiosity in what the size of on-campus classes will look like in the Fall.

“Yes, this semester we will have capacity limits,” Interim Dean of Health Professions Scott Lancaster said. “So far, we have remained in compliance with any capacity restrictions put in place by the governor and I don’t foresee that changing in any way. Right now, we’re trying to aim for 50% capacity next semester.”

Some students voiced their concerns for self-registration using the new Navigate Registration Tool. “How will we know what type of class we’re registering for?” One student asked.

“Students can search through the Navigate tool by course-type, there will also be a bubble that will pop up below each course describing the course type,” said Ellis. “If you’re confused or need any help, you can always schedule an appointment with your advisor or by calling the admissions office at 978-556-3700.”

“We have to assume there will be some ups and downs, as there have been throughout this situation. So with each of these answers today, keep in mind that things can change.” Heineman.