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May 2020

May 29, 2020

Dear College Community,

Our gradual introduction of students to campus this second week has gone well, setting the stage for additional programming in the coming weeks.

Next week, we will add curriculum programs, such as Biotechnology, Cosmetology, and Machining. Continuing Education instruction will include carpentry, plumbing, HVAC, pharmacy technician, paramedic, and notary public to name a few. Student support services will open tutoring (by appointment) and placement testing.

The following week, we plan to introduce some General Education curriculum hybrid courses. In addition, Continuing Education will offer a series of automotive classes, along with EMT refresher and GED testing. All of this is driven by the need for hands-on, face-to-face instruction in these areas this summer – all in accordance with CDC guidelines and safety protocols. We will continue to evaluate our progress, and to offer new courses in the coming weeks as appropriate.

Many of you have asked about the College’s plans for the fall semester. At this time, we do not anticipate changing our fall calendar. The fall schedule will begin on August 17 for Curriculum.

You may have read about earlier starts and stops at four-year universities by eliminating fall break and wrapping up instruction by Thanksgiving.

Our approach is informed by this simple fact: Community colleges substantially differ from four-year institutions that draw students from across the nation and the world. Our College community is local and largely self-contained, minimizing health risks from students traveling long distances and risking a viral spread.

You will, however, notice some changes this fall. We will employ social distancing protocols that will necessitate strategic class sizes. We will look at staggering class times. We will add more sections of our classes. We will offer those classes later in the day and on Fridays and Saturdays – traditionally when our student population has been lightest.

And in all of this, we will focus on online or hybrid classroom-online instruction to the greatest extent possible, with our goal being to reduce the number of students in classrooms and labs at any one time, but yet meet demand.

In all that we do, we are keeping the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff at the forefront.

I have several other items of interest to students, staff, and faculty.

– Thus far, the College has dispersed $200,000 to 193 students who qualified for emergency relief under the federal CARES Act. These funds are for students who have been impacted by COVID-19’s disruption of college operations. Students can still apply for this emergency relief through June 30. We believe many more students qualify for this assistance but have not yet applied. Learn more about eligibility guidelines and application procedures on our web site.

– We are discussing both how and when to bring more of our staff back to campus. No date has been set yet. We will make decisions in accordance with CDC guidelines and N.C. Community College System guidelines. Additionally, we are looking at where it makes the most sense to telework and to what extent.

– Discussions are ongoing about bringing more faculty back to campus. Obviously, much of that is driven by the mode of instruction most appropriate to each class and program.

– Next month, we will ask our Board of Trustees to consider an update to our Emergency Leave Policy. More details will be provided in a few weeks.

– This week, we were excited to hold our Basic Law Enforcement Training graduation ceremony outdoors. Celebrating their success was important.

– Many of you have asked about the College’s plans for graduation and Commencement. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to secure a large enough venue to hold a traditional ceremony this summer. So instead, we are planning a virtual Commencement ceremony. I assure you that each student’s success will be recognized. You can help us gather photos and video footage when you come pick up your caps and gowns on June 5. We will have a professional photographer/videographer there to capture your special moments. Our preliminary plan is to hold this virtual ceremony in late June. More information on this will be coming soon.

As of Thursday morning, there were 25,412 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, more than 300 of them in Alamance County. These numbers inform the need to maintain social distancing, to wear a face mask when around others, and to practice frequent hand washing. Practicing these protocols will be a basic expectation of our students, staff and faculty on our campuses.

Stay steadfast to the safety of you and others.


Dr. Algie C. Gatewood
Alamance Community College President

May 21, 2020

Dear College Community,

I am pleased to report that our first week of face-to-face instruction in select public health programs – nursing, nurse aid, EMS to name a few – was successful and that our faculty and students observed proper protocols to ensure everyone’s safety in the Powell Building and B-Building.

Based on that success, we will bring our Dental Assisting students back on campus next week – the first return of students to the Main Building. In addition, we will offer classroom instruction for licensure and certification programs in the Advance Applied Technology Center.

Next week, the ad hoc return-to-campus planning committee is expected to provide recommendations as to what weeks three and four will look like at our College. Our focus during those weeks will very likely involve more Continuing Education/Workforce Development instruction.

That same planning committee has begun discussions about fall semester instructional delivery and timelines. We are studying a variety of models that other 2-year and 4-year higher education institutions are rolling out for reference. These discussions are focused on how much online delivery is feasible and the logistics of physical distancing in our classrooms.

I expect our plans for fall will begin crystallizing soon, after which I will share those plans.

I know many of you have asked about Commencement. We are still trying to get a commitment to a venue and calendar date, but we are also considering a number of other possibilities. Please be patient and know that the College will find a way to celebrate the success of our graduates.

In all that we are doing, you should know that our decisions and actions align with the recently released CDC guidelines for higher education. Additionally, our intentional and incremental return to campus tracks Governor Cooper’s measured phase-in plan. Further, we are continuing to work very closely regarding our plans with the Alamance County Health Department.

Everyone’s health and safety is a priority in guiding our decisions and actions.

Let me touch on a few reminders and housekeeping matters:

– Campus access is still limited.
– The College continues its stepped up cleaning protocols.
– The College has secured face masks, gloves, and disinfectants for staff, faculty, and students.
– The College is modifying seating in classrooms to ensure social distancing.
– The College is securing additional plexi-glass shields for high-interaction and close-transactional services.
– Higher education relief funds for eligible students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act are still available. You can learn more about the brief application and qualifying process on the College’s website.
– We have expanded Wi-Fi in our parking lots.

As of today, May 21, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 20,860 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The Alamance County Health Department reports 260 cases in Alamance County.

Governor Cooper announced yesterday that the state is moving into Phase 2 of eased restrictions, effective 5 pm on Friday, May 22. He continues to take a cautious approach. If the data and trends are favorable, the state may move into Phase 3 by late June.

In the meantime, the College will stay the course. We will continue to encourage telework where appropriate and feasible.

For those at home and inclined to venture forth, exercise care. I emphasize what the governor has emphasized: Wearing a mask in public is a sign of compassion for others around you. Wearing a mask says you care for friends, family, and strangers. Wearing a mask says you want to protect them in the event you are unknowingly infected and asymptomatic.

As a child, I remember in the movies that the cowboys wearing the masks were never the good guys. But times have changed. The new normal says your mask makes you one of the good guys.

Look out for yourself and for each other.


Dr. Algie C. Gatewood
Alamance Community College President

May 14, 2020

Dear College Community,

Summer semester 2020 begins Monday, May 18, and more students will be returning to campus after a two-month hiatus for face-to-face instruction.  These will be various health care- and science-related program students occupying the Powell Building and EMT students occupying first floor B-Building.

We have put safety protocols in place for these students and instructors and we will closely monitor the first week before any additional program re-openings get underway.

Our proposed plan is to next introduce face-to-face instruction on May 26 for Dental Assisting students in the Main Building and Continuing Education safety inspections classes in the Advanced Applied Technology Center.

I want to assure everyone that the health and safety of our students and employees is paramount. An ad hoc planning committee has been working diligently with our county health department and our Public Safety Department to address precautions and procedures that safeguard our College community.

Re-introducing classroom instruction is being done in a gradual and measured manner. If issues arise – or if state or national guidance changes – during any part of this phasing-in process, we will step back and reassess.  Everyone’s health and safety is at the forefront of our strategy to keep academic progress moving forward.

The planning committee has issued a detailed guidance document to faculty, which is being regularly reviewed and revised as needed.  Student Services has issued a detailed guidance document for students needing to access various services on campus.  You can find that information here.

I have instructed College leadership that safety is the watchword for every action and decision.  I want to thank them profusely for their continuing hard work.

We completed spring semester earlier this month.  We did so under difficult circumstances.  We did so during a historic period in our state, our nation, and our world.

To our faculty, staff, and students who took online instruction and learning to unprecedented levels, I express my deepest gratitude for your hard work – and for your continuing hard work as we educate and train this summer semester and the upcoming fall semester in August.

I want to commend our May graduates for their perseverance.  Discussion continues as to how and when our College can mark this important milestone and celebrate their success.

To our entire College community, I remind you that many of our newly-minted graduates have begun taking their place on the front lines to battle this pandemic – graduates in Nursing, Medical Assisting, Medical Laboratory Technicians, EMS, and Basic Law Enforcement Training just to name a few.  We all owe them a debt of gratitude.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

As of 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 14, North Carolina was reporting 16,507 cases of the viral infection.  Alamance County is approaching 200 confirmed cases.

As our community continues to observe the stay-at-home executive order, I ask each of you to observe social distancing protocols, to wear masks when in public, to limit travel, to practice heightened hygiene at home, and to look out for one another.

Stay strong as we navigate these times together.


Dr. Algie C. Gatewood
Alamance Community College President

May 8, 2020

Dear College Community,

I want to share with students, faculty, and staff some important updates and reminders this week, beginning with a plan to gradually re-introduce limited face-to-face instruction on campus. 
Starting May 18, we will have approximately 200 Nursing and EMT students in classrooms on the Main campus. This instruction will be staggered and there will be a limited number of students in each class.
We are evaluating how those students will move through their respective spaces, how we may provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing protocols, how we will train our employees AND students in PPE use, and how we can leverage continued online instruction where appropriate.
We will be monitoring that first week carefully for safety and health issues. 
The following week, we will be joined by Dental Assisting students and those requiring licensure or certification training under Continuing Education.
Again, this will be a gradual process, phased-in and monitored closely. Before we implement the first phase of our plan, the Alamance County Health Department will be asked to review it and provide feedback.
Let me remind everyone that in these early weeks, the library and tutoring labs will remain closed. Student success services will continue online and over the phone. In rare instances, a limited number of students can avail themselves of those services by appointment only.
To our students, I remind you that beginning next Monday, ACC is taking applications for you to apply for an emergency grant through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which comes under the CARES Act grant program. This grant program is meant to assist students with expenses related to disruptions of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students can find information about this program on our website. Then next week, you can fill out an application through the self-service E-forms.
I strongly encourage our students to review that grant application process and assess eligibility for funding.
To current and prospective students, we are registering for summer and fall semesters now. Please don’t wait because summer classes begin May 18. Visit us online or call our student services office now.
To our employees, I remind you that information is available on our website regarding temporary leave and emergency leave policies.
To everyone, I remind you that Governor Roy Cooper is transitioning North Carolina into Phase 1 of eased restrictions effective 5 p.m. today, May 8.
Nonetheless, his stay-at-home order remains in effect.
Essential businesses – and that includes community colleges – remain open. Furthermore, essential educational programs are allowed face-to-face instruction. These include Nursing, Nurse Aid, Medical Assistant, EMS and Basic Law Enforcement.
As of today, North Carolina has 13,868 cases of the virus, 149 of them in Alamance County.
The governor’s office this week introduced a new mantra: Wear. Wait. Wash.
In this new normal, that means wearing a face mask when out in public, remaining 6 feet away from others, and washing hands regularly.
Stay resolute. Stay the course. And stay safe.
Dr. Algie C. Gatewood
Alamance Community College President

May 1, 2020

Dear College Community,

As we near the start of the summer semester later this month, I want to share some important news and updates.

College leadership is in ongoing discussions about how and when we may begin easing access restrictions on our campuses. As you know, we chose to continue online instruction through the end of spring semester, May 8.

We hope to announce next week the first phase of returning to more face-to-face instruction for some programs deemed critical and that are exempt from stay-at-home orders. Programs such as Nurse Aid and Medical Assisting will join Nursing, EMS, and BLET in offering some classes in the face-to-face format.  

Of course there are still logistical issues to address, including classroom set-ups that maintain social distancing, providing deep cleaning, and ensuring that protective gear is worn as appropriate. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains paramount in the weeks and months ahead.

We are also assessing how and when face-to-face interactions between students and our student services can begin. We are examining admissions testing delivery and college orientation. And of course we hope to have an announcement soon about Commencement, which has been delayed.

A reminder: We will have a process in place in which students can safely visit campus and pick up their caps and gowns on June 5.

Even as summer term is set to begin, I remind you that the window for fall registration is open. This can be done online or over the telephone. Keeping students on track academically and ensuring their academic success is also foremost in our minds.

Next week, we expect additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that is aimed specifically at higher education institutions. We hope that will provide a better road map to gradually reopening our campuses.

At his press conference yesterday, Governor Roy Cooper reminded North Carolinians that his stay-at-home order remains in effect until May 8. His office is closely monitoring trends and metrics that he hopes will support easing some restrictions later this month.    

Next week, we will release more specific information about the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which comes under the CARES Act grant program and is meant to assist students with expenses related to disruptions of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will provide information about the application process and the criteria that governs distribution of those funds in an email to students. Our website and other communication channels will also provide those details.

As of Friday morning, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 10,509 cases of the COVID-19 virus in North Carolina, with 99 in Alamance County. We can expect this number to rise as more citizens are tested more frequently.

Remember, you can help mitigate the spread of this virus by proper hygiene (frequent hand-washing), sanitizing common-touch surfaces, wearing protective masks when in public, limiting travel, and observing social distancing protocols.

We have been under stay-at-home orders since March 27. Because most of North Carolina has been diligent, the curve has been flattened for viral spread and our medical resources have not been overwhelmed.

But as Governor Cooper warned yesterday, complacency is not our friend.

We cannot let down our guard in the days and weeks ahead. Equally important, we must embrace hope.  


Dr. Algie C. Gatewood
Alamance Community College President