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A Great Education: The Same, But Different

The COVID-19 outbreak brought the Coconino Community College community together for our students in ways I didn’t know were possible.

The administrative staff immediately went into high gear to keep the college running as smoothly as possible as we responded to direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coconino County Health and Human Services, the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Office of the Governor. Faculty put in unbelievable numbers of hours to migrate face-to-face courses to a virtual format and to reach out to students in every way possible to help them succeed. Academic and admissions advisors reached out to students to help them plan for successful summer and fall semesters. The list of examples of dedicated service to our students is long, and I deeply thank each and every person involved.

With the help of the federal CARES Act stimulus package, about $550,000 is being awarded to qualifying students for the recent spring and current summer semesters. There were 744 students who qualified for the $600 CCC CARES Act Grant for the spring semester because they were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The remaining $100,000 is to be used for grants for summer semester students.

This funding is part of the first phase of the CARES Act funds distribution. A second phase of CARES Act fund distribution is scheduled for the future, and even though the second phase of funding will allow colleges to support operations, CCC leadership has already decided that the majority of those funds will go to students.

This is an excellent opportunity for qualifying students to receive the assistance they desperately need during these challenging times. Such students need to complete a 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that meets the requirements of the Higher Education Act (HEA484), show proof of citizenship and be enrolled in a certificate or program. So, it’s really important to get FAFSA’s filled out for the fall semester.

Since May 26, all CCC campuses have been open to students and prospective students only. The intent is to have college staff available in-person to all students and prospective students as needed for college business. However, students should always monitor the college’s COVID-19 website because the situation can change quickly. Computer labs also will be available to students.

The first summer session began on June 1, and all courses have been migrated to online formats except for those that require hands-on sessions. Strict social distancing guidelines will be practiced, and no more than 10 people will meet at a time. CCC values the health and safety of staff, faculty and students. Any student or prospective student who comes to the CCC campuses will be required to wear a protective face covering in compliance with guidelines issued by the CDC.

Maintenance and security personnel at CCC have worked diligently to help establish appropriate physical distancing measures on all campuses. Signage has been posted to provide social distancing instructions. CCC will continue to adapt, and implement cleaning and sanitation practices for student and employee safety.

Although the future remains unclear, all of us at CCC are planning to respond as quickly as possible as events unfold. We are in the process of developing contingencies to continue offering students the education they need to help them realize their hopes and dreams. My belief is that our students will need us now more than ever.

Most appropriately, the theme for our recent “virtual” Commencement Ceremony was “We Are All in This Together.”

We truly are. CCC will continue to be here for you, to offer a great education – the same, but different – as we all, together, weather this uncertain time in our country’s history. Fall registration is currently open. Please visit our website at coconino.edu for information about how to apply to CCC, how to navigate the financial aid application process or to schedule an advising session to determine what path at CCC may be the right one for you.

My wish is that every one of you will be safe and stay healthy. CCC is a great place to be.

Onward! FBN

By Colleen Smith

Colleen Smith is the president of Coconino Community College.

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