I invite you to join me for a “Campus Conversation with the Chancellor” this Thursday at 2:30 p.m. with special guest Dr. Mark Escott. Together, we will explore COVID-19 in Central Texas and get important insights about the pandemic. Dr. Escott has served as the interim health authority in the region since the start of the Coronavirus. His guidance has been instrumental in helping ACC understand the situation and has shaped much of our planning process. I encourage you to join us and hear firsthand the latest developments in our community.
As you’re aware, our planning for spring is well underway. Next week marks the start of registration for current students. While I would love to see us all return to campus, we will remain cautious and thoughtful in our approach. Most classes will remain online, and many employees will continue to work remotely. We will gradually scale-up hybrid learning opportunities for courses that require face-to-face components as the situation allows. You will receive updates as decisions are made. What’s most important now is protecting the health and safety of our employees and students while ensuring our mission to provide students the education and resources they need to succeed.
Beginning October 26, ACC will open three locations for students to access on-campus computers and individual study areas. We’re building on best practices to make this happen. These areas will be limited to 25 percent capacity to ensure safe social distancing and will be available by appointment only. We selected locations in three key regions to meet the needs of as many students as possible: the Highland and Round Rock campus ACCelerators, as well as library space at Hays Campus. I want to thank the many faculty and staff and members of the Return to Campus Planning Committee who have helped us think through every scenario as we develop our plans. It is a great step toward enhancing access for students who don’t have the technology they need or the quiet space to study and focus — especially as we get closer to finals. Meantime, all student support services remain online. We will consider slowly expanding access to in-person resources in spring as the situation allows.
I expect our conversation with Dr. Escott tomorrow to offer helpful advice as we move forward. I hope you will join us, and I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions. The livestream chat will be available during our conversation. You may watch the livestream on our Campus Conversations webpage.
These remain incredibly challenging times, and through it all you continue to keep us moving forward and our students on course. I am immensely proud of this Riverbat family. We are all doing our part to protect one another — from health screenings to temperatures checks — and it’s working. To date, there have been no on-campus transmissions. As always, you may follow all the developments on our Coronavirus informational website. It is because of you, and your due diligence, that ACC is seen as an example for best practices. I thank each of you for your ongoing support and commitment to this important work.
Richard M. Rhodes, Ph.D.
Austin Community College District