Dallas County Community Colleges to continue online learning for fall semester

The majority of classes for students attending Dallas County Community Colleges will continue online instruction in the fall.

While many colleges and universities in the area are planning to return to in-person classes this fall, DCCCD leaders say they didn’t feel they could safely welcome all students, faculty and staff back to campus as soon as this fall.

It’s been weeks since students last set foot on Dallas County Community College campuses. Online classes started March 30, and campus buildings have been closed to the public.

With the fall term still about three months away, administrators have already made the call to continue with mostly online classes in the fall.

“We knew up front our students were different and have a different set of expectations, and they’re really trying to move as rapidly as they can through our programs in order to be prepared for jobs and many of them are looking for advancement in current jobs,” said DCCCD Chancellor Dr. Joe May. “In order to help them plan better, we felt like we had enough information to really make this call right now.”

The chancellor says monitoring tens of thousands of students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms through methods like temperature checks would be difficult.

“So being able to have both self-screen coming onto campus, but reviewing that is going to be important to us as well,” May said. “And we don’t believe right now we could handle 40,000 students a day in that environment.”

Administrators say enrollment has been growing and they’ve already been at capacity, passing a $1.1 billion bond last year for expansion. And the space they do have doesn’t allow for safe social distancing for all 160,000 students enrolled.

“In the past, most of these labs and classes of that nature, whether they be nursing or whether they be other healthcare programs, automotive technology or perhaps construction and others, those have all but been at capacity in the space they’re in,” May said.

While most classes will be online, the colleges are preparing to provide proper distancing space in labs and classes for programs that require in-person training.

“So in order to ensure we can accommodate everyone, most classes will be moving online all those courses and programs we can, at the same time expanding those where we must have face to face on campus,” May said.

Administrators say they will be partially opening up campus buildings starting in June and July and will continue to need their support staff to clean and maintain the buildings. Support staff will also continue to be paid through their contracts up to at least August 31.