Student Town Hall 4.06.2020

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Student Town Hall 4.06.2020

– Okay, should we get started? I’m gonna ask Mike Lyons to just do an introduction, explain how it’s gonna work – Good afternoon everyone Welcome to the live stream on Facebook or YouTube You’ll be having a student town hall meeting with MassBay Community College During the meeting, if you have any questions, please feel free to post them to the Comments section on Facebook, or to email questions at We have staff members who are gonna act as a proxy and will ask those questions for you inside of this town hall meeting At this time I’d like to turn it over to Dr. David Podell, thank you, sir – Thanks Mike, welcome everybody I’m sorry that I can’t see all the students because we’re doing this through Facebook, et cetera, but I’m really glad you’ve joined us and we have this opportunity for me to answer your questions I’m joined by members of my cabinet, who you may or may not be able to see on the screen, not sure So let me just jump right in First of all, I wanna thank all the students for their patience and their cooperation as we made this transition Of course, it’s not a small matter converting a whole college from mostly face-to-face to entirely remote or online instruction, as well as all of our business operations, and then all of our student supports That’s what we did over the past couple weeks The world changed and we had to change with it to keep MassBay here to serve you Our top goal, after safety, was keeping the academic semester going, and getting you all to the end of the semester so you can complete it, get your grades, get your credits, get your learning, and move on to the next step, which might be summer session, which might be fall, which might be graduation, it might be transfer But that was our priority after everyone’s health and safety, which, of course, has to come first A little summary of what transpired Right after spring break, we took a one-week moratorium for face-to-face courses, to give faculty the opportunity to transition their courses to remote instruction That meant they had to rethink their courses, redo some of their material, just reconceptualize the whole way they were gonna teach The online courses kept going, and the eight-week two-session courses began online, but the ones, the classes that were face-to-face had to wait a week as well During that time, we offered workshops to students to get them on board with remote instruction for those who were not familiar with how to do it Some of you availed yourselves of that And now this week, this past week, we had our first week of remote instruction I know there have been some blips here and there, of course, there are going to be But I think people have been patient The important thing is to keep in close touch with your faculty Email them, ask your questions If you’re having some trouble, be patient, give your faculty a chance to respond, and learn what it is that you need to do to keep the class moving One thing I wanna say first out is we do not want people to come to campus Do not come to campus There’s no reason for you to do that We’re trying to protect, of course, the essential staff who have to be there, because we’ve gotta keep the building protected and looked after, and we don’t want them to be put in jeopardy by people coming into the building too much So the building is not available to students In fact, none of our buildings, Ashland, and Framingham are not open, and Wellesley, you should not be coming there as well The way that we’re teaching now, through remote instruction, is going to last till the end of the semester It’s from last week till the very end So keep up with your classes with your instructor, don’t lose your momentum, and don’t come to campus All the services that you’re used to getting on campus you can get on the web So that includes advising, counseling, career counseling It includes any kind of tutoring that you were getting at the Academic Achievement Center All that’s available on the web, as well as the services you need, there’s a registrar, financial aid, student accounts, all of that can be done on the web So keep looking on the web for how to get into those offices, we’ll try to make it easier if we can, but it’s all there And, of course, by phone as well The best way to communicate is by email

Please check your email, your MassBay email, every day, every day, make it a habit, maybe first thing in the morning, or at lunchtime, or whenever you wanna do it Build it into your routine to check your MassBay email, because that’s our best way to communicate with all of you Don’t forget, there’s 4,300 of you, so to get through to all of you, we need to send out emails To get through to a class, the professor has to do it by email, not to your personal email, to your MassBay email Really, really important I wanna talk for a second, and we will have time for the questions, don’t worry, about doing schoolwork at home For many of you, maybe it’s not easy I’m sure you didn’t plan to take your semester as a remote instruction semester, and maybe your home, your apartment is not set up for it Try to carve out some quiet space for yourself Try to keep up with whatever the professors are telling you to do, we don’t want you to fall behind And try to imagine that this is just a different kind of semester for the remaining weeks, and we’re all gonna get through it together, so stick with it If you have some problems, be in touch with your professor, or be in touch with one of us, we can provide you with the support you need Okay, so what’s ahead? I talked about the spring semester being an entirely remote or online semester for what’s left of it, and we’re here to support you to get you through that Some important specific facts that I want you to know Usually, the last day to withdraw from classes is April 10th We’ve moved that to May 1st So the last day to withdraw from classes has been moved from April 10th to May 1st, make a note Fall registration for fall 2020 is going to begin on April 27th Fall registration begins on April 27th Many of you have written in asking about changing our grading system that we could, such that we could have a pass/fail option Many colleges in the United States are doing that The faculty, a committee of faculty, are meeting later today to discuss that very matter, and we hope they reach a conclusion quickly because it makes a lot of sense The way pass/fail works in a lot of places is that it’s the students option So the professor still assigns a grade, but if the student has opted in to pass/fail, that means that the grade automatically becomes converted to a P or an F Now, why is that so important? Because some of you are probably using your grade to be admitted to another course that might have a prerequisite, must get a B or above in a prerequisite course Or, you need a GPA at a certain level to enter a certain program, a selective program You might be thinking about your transfer It should be, in many, many colleges, it is the student’s option, and I’m hoping that our faculty come to that same conclusion when they meet today at three o’clock, and I’m optimistic that they will So stay tuned for more information about the pass/fail It’s not resolved yet, but it should be resolved in the next day, or two, or three One point about commencement, commencement is an event that everybody holds dear to their heart Of course, the graduates themselves, the families of the graduates, and I have to tell you, those of us who work at MassBay, it is a magical, very special day It’s one where we are so proud of our students, so thrilled at their success, and we can’t wait to celebrate it with them, and with their families But we all know that the current conditions with the virus do not allow us to have a big commencement under a tent in the month of May, as we ordinarily would We would love to, but it’s not a risk that we should take So we have a committee that’s working on alternate plans The plans are not established yet, so once again, stay tuned We’ll be in touch with the graduating students about some of the ideas that we’re considering If you are scheduled to graduate this spring, you should still fill out an application to graduate, very important You can get that on the registrar’s home page So go to the MassBay website, go to the registrar’s home page, and look for the link to the application to graduate

Very important, ’cause we wanna get you in this set of graduates But how we’re going to do graduation, still not yet clear So we’ll be talking to you more about that I know I’m giving you a lot of information, but I think it’s all important This summer, we’re going forward with our summer semester The first summer term begins May 18th, that’s a four-week term, and of course there’s also the 10-week term All of those face-to-face classes that were scheduled to begin May 18th will be remote They’ll be taught remotely Of course, those that were scheduled to be online will continue to be online, but those that were scheduled to be face-to-face will be remote Now, in most cases, that’s not a problem There are some programs where we still have some things to work out, I’m thinking specifically about some of the health science classes, not all, but some, that would’ve been lab or clinical sections, and the automotive classes So watch for emails from your faculty and your deans about automotive and health science for the summer But for those terms beginning May 18th, your classes will either be, other than automotive and health science, your classes will either be online or remote Online if you signed up for it, and remote otherwise there’s another term that begins in July, but we haven’t made a decision about that term yet, so we’ll keep in touch I’m planning to make these town halls a weekly event, on Mondays at one o’clock, because I’m sure, as the weeks go by, there’ll be more information that we need to share, more questions that you wanna ask But it is a way for us to keep in touch Of course, there’s email, but I think this is another way that gives us a chance to exchange ideas, and thoughts, and questions, and answers But I wanna say, before I open it up to questions, how much I really appreciate everybody’s patience and their commitment to their studies in a time that is, let’s face it, full of anxiety We’re worried about our families, we’re worried about ourselves, we’re worried about our pursuit of our education It’s a tough time, it’s a tough time for the whole nation We’re gonna get through it, and we’re gonna get through it together MassBay is not just a community college, it’s a community of which you are a part That means that we are here for one another, we support one another That means faculty supporting students, staff supporting students, students supporting one another Let us know if you’re facing difficulties If you don’t reach out to us, we don’t know that you have an impediment, an obstacle, a problem Let us know, use your email to be in touch with the proper offices, or write to me Keep in touch with your professors, that’s the most important thing Let them know where your obstacles are Let them be the first point of contact if you have questions or challenges And, of course, contact the various student services offices if you need help We are here to help you, and I mean about anything Don’t hesitate to reach out to us This period in our nation’s history, and in our lives, is a big challenge, but the future is gonna be better than the present We are up to this challenge We’re gonna stick together and we’re gonna get to that great future So let me now take questions that you may be writing in on email, to questions at, or through the, I know there’s another way – [Stephen] Comment field on Facebook – Thank you, Stephen Dill And I wonder any comment, questions have come in? – We do have a few, quite a few have been addressed that were relative to the pass/fail, and a little bit in terms of the summer I think the predominant question that seems to come up, though, that is not necessarily addressed, is what about those students who are finding the switch to online, or remote rather, to be a burden, and are facing a choice to withdraw Are there, in fact, mechanisms to help them out, and what is the consequence should someone take a W on their class? – Okay, I would say, first, talk to your professor via email about the issues you’re having You can always talk to someone in academic advisement That’s the office to go to next, to say, “I’m struggling, I’m not sure “if I should stay in the course, “what are my options, how would it affect things?”

So talk to academic advising, and you can reach them, go to our website and type in academic advising, and it’ll tell you how to contact the advisors And they can provide you with lots of information about your options, and all the implications of your choices Withdrawal is an option, but, you know, one thing that I wanna communicate to everybody is that we’re going through the adjustment period Last week and this week are a big adjustment to these new realities So I would say don’t be so quick to withdraw Give it a shot, give it time, there’s time to withdraw if you wanna do that We said the deadline has been moved to May 1 But give it a try, you know, you might find that figuring it out, you can do it, and getting the proper supports you can do it, so don’t let abandoning the course be your first option Dig deep, ask for help, get help But you always have your faculty and the academic advising office there to help you make your decisions All right, Stephen, the next question – There are questions around will the semester be extended, because we lost a week after spring break? – Good question, no The semester’s gonna end in its normal timetable, so the faculty have to kinda hustle to fit in that lost week It might have happened had we had a snowstorm You know, there are other reasons why a college doesn’t meet all of its classes So it turns out we didn’t have any snow days, ’cause it’s a very mild winter as it turned out, so we’ll be fine I will say that the exception may be in some of the automotive and health science classes, and there we have to figure it out, because those particular classes depend so much on individual one-to-one contact that we have to figure out how to do that in this current era So there may be exceptions with automotive and health science, but for everything else, the semester will end on schedule – There’s a question also about extending counseling service, and I believe you covered it, but you might want to reiterate that all services that were face-to-face are now available remote – Yes, and counseling is something that most people think of as a face-to-face activity, and in general, that’s true But this is an extraordinary period and we offer counseling over the web so that you can be receiving the services that you need, the support you need, from a professional counselor from your home And for those of you who are really, really struggling emotionally, I would say take advantage of that That is there for you MassBay has always supported our students with counseling, but at this particular time, where there’s greater stress in the world, or more uncertainty, sometimes it makes people, it triggers things in people, and they become more anxious, and that is certainly understandable Don’t be shy about asking for help And I really, really mean that That’s why we provide these services for you, for you to move forward in your lives and in your academic careers They’re here for you, all of those services, and all those professional staff who are now working from home, they are there to provide, to meet your needs, so please, please, please don’t hesitate – So there are a couple of questions around testing, both in terms of finals, but also in terms of practicums, not, I’m saying, placement testing, et cetera What are our options there? – Yeah, with regard to course final exams, be in touch with your faculty member, your professor, and they will tell you what they’re going to do, how they’re gonna handle final exams So that’s a professor by professor decision And professors are gonna have to be creative, okay So go along with, go with the flow with your professor With regard to placement testing, we’re working on that, we don’t have a definitive answer for you There are a few different options that we’re examining and we’ll be in touch about that – Slight point of clarification, there’s a six-week one, and six-week two summer course, not a four-week – Oh, sorry my mistake – Details, but the plan is to, in fact, do both six-week one as well as the 10-week in the remote or online, if it already was – Right, thank you for that correction – The other question that has come up a couple of times has been around the challenge, let’s just say, of going on with a pass/fail program

and then transferring those who are making sure that the next place that they need to use it, so I think it would make sense to reiterate this will be a choice – Well, and let me say, it’s in the hands of the faculty I am hoping that they agree upon a pass/fail option that includes student choice That’s the way most colleges work, so I’d be very surprised it was anything different, but I don’t wanna speak too soon because the faculty’s meeting later today, faculty committee, on this subject Of course, this is an extraordinary semester, so students who are thinking of transferring, most receiving colleges, colleges into which you might transfer understand the phenomenon of this semester and are themselves going into pass/fail Framingham State, for example, recently instituted a pass/fail option, the last few days So that’s a college that many of our students transfer to, so I think it’s, you are, your odds are very good that the colleges receiving pass/fail grades will understand why, because of the nature of the semester But I think where one should be specifically particularly careful, is if you are taking a course that is a prerequisite to something else, and the other course says must have a grade of B or above to enter this course Or a program, if you’re applying to the nursing program, or many other selective programs, here or at other colleges, they may have specific requirements with regard to a letter grade Make your choice carefully If you’re in doubt, contact office of academic advising and talk to the staff there and see is this course one of those courses where I maybe shouldn’t switch to pass/fail, assuming that option comes up, as we will know in a few days So you want your facts As I said before, the faculty, when they submit their grades, if this works the way it does at most colleges, they don’t know who is pass/fail and who isn’t They compute a grade and they submit it, and then the computer, if you have opted for pass/fail, switches you into P or F That’s just something to have in the back of your minds But you wanna make your decisions with as much information as you can glean So if you’re in doubt, talk to academic advising and find out what they would recommend, or what this particular course might mean to a subsequent course for which it’s a prerequisite – This question is to whether we would be still holding the Evening of Excellence – Alas, no, there’ll be no ceremonies this semester Of course, it’s a shame, because these are wonderful evenings We will try to find other ways to honor the students for their academic achievements We’re gonna have to be creative But this is what’s happening all around the country – Here’s an interesting question about peer tutoring from a peer tutor So I would presume that the resource for them is to touch base with the academic achievement center, correct, and see how that’s getting coordinated? – Sounds like a good suggestion, Stephen Dill, thank you – Just off the top of the head There was a clarification relative to the pass/fail, again, and this was that they would most likely, should this be instituted by the faculty, have a choice per class, that’s the way you perceive it, correct? – Yes, yes, it’s not one student deciding for all of your classes, you would decide per class That’s how it’s been done traditionally at colleges that offer pass/fail options So you might do it for this class but not for that class – And further on the Night of Excellence So with all celebrations, they will be rescheduled, and at this point it is to be determined, correct? – I can’t say that they’ll necessarily be rescheduled, too soon to tell You know, we’ve been focused very much on the academics, and the student services, and now we can move our attention to some of the ceremonial Next question? – I’m just checking, I believe we are at the end of our questions Let me just see if anything else has come in at the last minute here Again, another point of clarification, but will the pass/fail affect our GPAs? – That’s the magic of pass/fail. (chuckles) If the faculty opt to use, to introduce a pass/fail option, the P does not affect your GPA, the F does, that’s the nature of F’s, that’s why people don’t want F’s So the P is neutral – There is a further question on that which is, will it affect our ability to get onto the dean’s list? – Well, that’s an interesting question, because we’ve never thought about that because we’ve never had the pass/fail option

So we’re gonna have to put that on the list of things to consider You know, I’d be very surprised if it did, because the reality is we’re in an extraordinarily unique situation No one in their lifetime has encountered this So we have to make a lot of accommodations for the unique situation we’re in And off the top of my head, I would be very surprised if the faculty wanted to make the pass/fail an impediment to being on the dean’s list, I would be very surprised But I don’t wanna speak for them, and we need to give the faculty time to consider it – That appears to be, again, one came in late, hold on It’s more of an observation Professors have the option to restructure their courses, that makes sense with the switch to remote, however, have they been given the ability to change class schedules? – An interesting question, hmm I think if it’s a, what we call a synchronous class, meaning it meets, that the professor’s meeting with the students through WebEx, and seeing them all on the screen, I’d be troubled if the class was meeting at times other than the scheduled time, but I don’t wanna make a universal statement I would say if you have any issues, concerns about the matter, contact your, after you talk to your professor, talk to your dean Now, some professors, when they went remote, might have made their classes asynchronous, that is to say not meeting as a group, but through assignments through YouTube, through email, that’s a perfectly all right way to make a class remote So an asynchronous class, where there’s no formal class meeting is legitimate But if it’s a synchronous class, where everyone’s meeting at 11 o’clock on Thursday, all together, I’d be troubled if it’s off the schedule, but there might be some valid reasons that I don’t know So I would say contact your dean if that’s an issue for you – You may need to reiterate that we don’t know how placement tests will be replaced or handled going forward, but we’re working on it – Right, there was a question, I’ll just repeat it, that we’re working on how to address the need for placement testing I’m not talking about final exam testing, that’s done, determined by your professor, but placement testing, which is usually done when students are first entering the college, and they take ACCUPLACER, or tests that are taken to get into selective programs, like the nursing programs, those are matters that have yet to be worked out – There is a question I had missed, which was on the refund of lab fees Are we looking at any sorts of refunds? – A refund of lab fees, we have not yet had a chance to discuss, so let’s put that on our list of things that we’ll need to discuss and I’ll have to get back to you – How late will we have to opt into the pass/fail? could we do it with some classes and not others? Well, we’ve addressed some of that How late, on the program, I suppose, right? – Let me start by saying we don’t have a pass/fail option yet, so all of this is hypothetical, and I don’t wanna speak too soon because the faculty is meeting and discussing it, it’s a faculty choice, faculty as a group, that would make it for the college So if it is passed by the faculty, it’s by course, so student, one student may say I’m gonna do it for my English course but not for my economics course, and the other part of the question was when? Still to be determined by the faculty What would be the deadline for changing your grade to pass/fail, but it’s all hypothetical because the faculty have not yet met to discuss it, but a committee is meeting this afternoon – And, again, just one more, and would it only be for spring 2020, or most likely going forward? – Also, again, I can’t speak for the faculty That’s their choice They may say this is a precedent and let’s go forever, or they may say this semester only, or until further notice, I can’t say In a college, faculty have, we share governance with the faculty The president doesn’t make all the decisions for the college And the academic matter is that pertaining to curriculum, teaching, grading, that belongs to the faculty, the faculty as a group So we look to them to make choices about our academic policies So that’s why I couldn’t simply wave my magic wand and say, “This will be our policy about pass/fail,” because grading belongs to the faculty,

and they’ll be meeting today, or at least a committee of them, to take up this issue of pass/fail – Will the challenge exams be offered virtually? – A good question I don’t know the answer, but I think that the Provost does I wonder if we could take Lynne Hunter off of mute, go ahead Dr. Hunter – Hi, Dr. Podell We are working on that and we anticipate we will have a way to take those challenge exams remotely soon – Going forward, will we have an email of all the key points given out during these meetings? If you could just reinforce that these are being archives, both on Facebook and on livestream, and there is a WebEx recording as well, and yes, we will, in fact, put together a summary of all these questions – There’s the answer, thank you, Stephen – There’s a couple points of praise for your leadership, so let’s pass those on There are folks who are your fans – I just wanna say, you know, I’m the one speaking, but all of the work that preceded this was done by a lot of people, a lot of people The members of my staff, the administration, the faculty worked really hard over spring break and the first, the week that we had a moratorium on classes to get to where we are And as, you know, especially many of you who have been in a campus, you know we have the best campus safety team in the country I mean, we have a great team, and they’ve been working really, really hard And behind the scenes, the facilities team, which has been cleaning up our campuses and trying to keep us safe from the virus The IT team, information technology, have been extraordinary in making all of this change possible You can’t imagine what’s gone on behind the scenes When a lot of us stopped coming to campus, many of those people I described were still coming to campus so that we could all be set up to do our work, and our teaching, and our learning remotely This is not something students often think of, but there’s a purchasing and receiving office that must function so that we could ship out things to faculty to help them teach, et cetera, keep the business of the college going And there’s a purchasing office that is necessary for us to purchase all the tools that we need to keep teaching and learning going remotely, not to mention all the things we need to keep the campus clean and safe So these behind the scenes people have moved heaven and Earth so that we could keep you learning, keep you supported, provide you the services, and keep the rest of us teaching and administrating the college So those are the ones who, (clapping) you know, please join me in thanking them because they’re all behind the scenes and working really hard, really, really hard – That, I believe, is it, sir – All right, phew! Listen, we’re gonna meet again on every Monday, so some of the questions that we were not able to answer, we’ll bring back on Monday if you don’t hear sooner via email Check your email Keep up your hard work Take a deep breath when you are anxious, and just keep supporting each other Reach out to your friends who might be alone, or stressed Remember that we are all here to support you, the entire faculty and administration is here to support you, our students We’re gonna get through this together We’re gonna be a even stronger community after all this is over And I look forward, as I’m sure you do, to that day when we can sit back and say, “Wow, we got through that, incredible!” So thanks to you all for your perseverance and your commitment to MassBay, and to your education And we are here to help you get to the next point in your academic lives So see you next Monday Thank you for attending