Southwestern Community College announces official start date, revised format for fall semester

SYLVA – Southwestern Community College will start its fall semester as scheduled on Aug. 17, and officials are rolling out a number of schedule adjustments and format changes to help keep students and employees safe during the ongoing pandemic.

Fall break has been canceled, and Southwestern will hold no in-person curriculum classes after Thanksgiving Break. A “Flex and Finals Week” following Thanksgiving will allow students to remotely finish any pending course requirements. The final day of classes has been moved up to Dec. 4, two weeks earlier than originally planned.

All curriculum classes will be web-supported, hybrid or web-centered, and no face-to-face classes will meet on Fridays. This means that while SCC is still offering a range of face-to-face classes, they will all have some level of online activity.

“We have considered a wide range of options for scheduling our fall semester, and we feel like this schedule affords us the most flexibility while also keeping our students and employees safe,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC President. “One advantage of our current plan is that it keeps us on the same calendar as the public schools, so early college and other high school students can continue to take their college classes seamlessly.”

SCC remains poised to immediately transition to a fully virtual college should federal, state or local conditions require such a move.

All programs at Southwestern’s Public Safety Training Center are continuing to meet the region’s essential needs via in-person training.

At all campuses and locations, college officials are informing all employees and students that they are required to wear facial coverings or masks to help prevent virus spread.

“The safety of everyone in our Southwestern community is our absolute top priority,” Dr. Tomas said. “Our mission is to help our students succeed, and we want them to pursue their educational goals in the safest possible environment.”

Safety measures are being taken at all SCC sites. Multiple hand sanitizing stations are located in all buildings, plexiglass dividers minimize contact in high-traffic areas and the college encourages employees, students and visitors to self-screen for COVID symptoms before arriving at any SCC location.

Housekeeping crews sanitize high-traffic areas and contact points throughout the day. Prominently displayed signs remind individuals to follow Centers for Disease Control safety guidelines.

Most ceremonies and student life events have been postponed through the rest of the calendar year, but a commencement ceremony is still scheduled for Aug. 8. If any adjustments are made to the timing or format of that event, SCC will directly inform graduates.

Officials will finalize and communicate decisions regarding fall commencement ceremonies at a later date.

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