SMC to continue in person instruction during fall semester

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College announced Wednesday that in-person courses will run during the Fall 2020 semester, on-campus residence halls will be open and the institution will operate as normally as is reasonably possible while keeping safety and student success as its top priorities.

One of SMC’s core values is “excellence with a personal touch,” officials said. Though during the spring and summer 2020 semesters the pandemic crisis challenged its ability to work closely with students in a physical classroom and campus life setting, SMC was able to migrate all classes, library and tutoring services online within days, losing no instructional time. The College kept the residence halls open through the end of Spring semester, provided supplemental meals for residents, offered partial refunds to all housing students and celebrated a virtual commencement for graduating students last month.

In a note to faculty and staff, President Dr. Joe Odenwald said, “The success of our students is our driving mission; we know that while online coursework provides valuable learning, the personal interaction between students, faculty and staff – and a total college life experience – is important to their personal growth and academic achievement.”

Odenwald said the college would adhere to Michigan’s MI Safe Start Plan and heed state recommendations.

“We will have in-person and online-hybrid courses, a variety of events and a residential experience for those needing and wanting to live on campus,” he said. “However, please understand that this will require all of us to rethink our interactions and adopt additional safety measures. Of course, we cannot predict with certainty the course of the pandemic during the semester. If updated government or health department guidance recommends additional safety protocols, we may need to step back to a more restrictive stance. Rest assured that we will approach Fall as thoughtfully as we can, with safety and student success as our top priorities. We plan to operate within a ‘Safety Means Compassion’ framework as a way to encourage all of the SMC community to come together for the common goal of student learning.”

The college has posted specific details about the fall 2020 semester on its website at swmich.edu/coronavirus. While SMC is confident in this path right now, plans are subject to change as conditions require, officials said.

The Pandemic Preparedness Task Force continues to research and discuss other areas of College operations and will communicate additional decisions when appropriate.

Fall 2020 courses begin Tuesday, Sept. 8, on both the Dowagiac and Niles campuses.

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