Return to Campus Timeline

Published Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 2:28pm

Thunderbird Colleagues,

Our plans for returning to our campuses continue to evolve. Last week during MCC’s Return to Campus leadership team meeting, I shared a goal of moving toward offering a majority of services and a robust mix of course formats with an increasing number of face-to-face classes for fall 2021. That may seem like an audacious goal due to the space limitations in our classrooms or other COVID safety guidelines, but my hope is that we strike a balance. The reason for this is simple - our students. Our students consistently share that they value and desire in-person educational experiences.

Our goal is established based on the following realities:

  • First and foremost, our students want in-person classes and services;
  • COVID-19 cases and deaths are decreasing while vaccinations are increasing;
  • Maricopa sister colleges are discussing 40-60% in-person/hybrid and ASU and GCU have announced that they will resume in-person activities for the fall;
  • We’re down 17% in enrollment this academic year. Announcing early to our students that we have a robust mix of in-person and online classes and services (with the caveat that our plans may change) may help students plan to choose MCC to continue their education.

I realize the continued uncertainty is stressful and that we each have varying levels of comfort with returning to in-person operations. As we have throughout the pandemic, we’ll continue to follow CDC guidelines for distancing, masks, hygiene, and sanitation. We are regularly monitoring these guidelines as they evolve and will share any updates before the end of spring semester. These practices will remain in place even as vaccinations take place. Further, our plans for face-to-face must have contingencies built in to allow us to revert to online instruction and services should the landscape change again.

For the past couple of months, the Return to Campus team has been discussing the gradual return of employees to campus. In fact, many of you have likely participated in planning for your office or departments. The targets that have been set are captured in the attached timeline and are intended to represent general, high level targets for the college. As we learned when we announced the initial plan for returning employees to campus, what works for staff may look different for faculty, what works for one department may need to be adjusted for another. We also learned that our timelines are ever changing, which I know is frustrating. The few things I’m certain of: we need to have plan so that when the time comes to re-open we aren’t scrambling; the sooner we can communicate our plan to students, the better; and we need our collective wisdom to problem solve to determine how to reach the goal of serving our students to the best of our ability.

On March 23 at 1 p.m., members of the MCC Leadership Team and I will host a Remote Anniversary celebration and information session. Please plan to attend. We will not have a live Q&A during the session; however, I would appreciate your questions, and more importantly your suggestions, in advance so that we may effectively plan our return to campus with your input. Please submit your items by March 12 at 5 p.m. at MCC Return to Campus Questions & Suggestions.

In service to our Thunderbird students,

Lori