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FMCC off to a ‘smooth start’

JOHNSTOWN — Three weeks into the fall semester Fulton-Montgomery Community College Acting President Greg Truckenmiller says the academic year is off to a “relatively smooth start.”

Truckenmiller reported on the start to the fall semester at FMCC where classes began on Sept. 2 to the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

“It’s a very different feel than it has been in past years,” said Truckenmiller pointing to the low on campus density created by the college’s reopening plans to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading on campus.

The college’s reopening plans have limited the number of students and faculty members on campus each day as 70 percent of classes are conducted remotely. Only classes with lab or on hands on learning components are being taught on campus this semester.

Density has been further reduced through staggering of scheduled days and times for in-person courses that feature small class sizes to allow for social distancing inside of classrooms with reconfigured seating layouts.

“The 30 percent of our classes that we’re having on campus makes for a much quieter campus,” said Truckenmiller.

Students and staff are additionally required to maintain their social distancing while moving around campus and to wear face coverings, health safety rules that have reportedly been complied with to date.

“We haven’t had any issues at all to speak of so we’re very pleased that things have gotten off to a smooth start despite the challenging circumstances,” said Truckenmiller.

Instructors are seemingly off to a similarly smooth start information technology personnel reported during a staff meeting, Truckenmiller added.

“It seems like people we were worried about in their transition to remote learning, we had nothing to worry about and overall, we’re able to manage the different way of delivering instruction,” he said.

Student Trustee Crystal Hutchins agreed with Turckenmiller’s assessment, sharing that she has not had any issues so far engaging with virtual classes hosted over Microsoft Meets when asked by Chairman Geoffrey Peck about her experience with remote learning this fall.

Hutchins noted that most students knew what to expect going into remote learning this semester after the campus closed to all non-essential personnel in March and shifted to fully remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester and the entirety of the summer session. But she acknowledged that students learning from home are likely having to put in additional time in the remote setting beyond the amount they would require learning on campus.

“A lot of it really is you having to self-teach some of the curriculum and it’s a lot of extra reading, it could be a little overwhelming at times. Otherwise it’s going OK and as a student I’m just doing what I have to do to get through it as best as I can,” said Hutchins.

Peck thanked Hutchins for her insight into remote learning, asking her to keep the board apprised of her experience as a student in the months ahead. No decisions regarding plans for instruction during the winter session and spring semester at FMCC have yet been made with details expected to be released later this year as officials monitor the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and await guidance from the State University of New York.

“At some point we hope to return to normal face-to-face classroom instruction across the board, but we’re obviously not there yet,” said Truckenmiller Thursday.

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