5 questions with President Falconetti: Polk State provides flexibility during COVID-19

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Polk State College is in a modified Phase III of its Return to Campus Plan for the Spring 2022 Semester. What does this mean for students and the College community?

Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti sat down with Polk State News to discuss how the College remains focused on student success, and the importance of exercising flexibility in course delivery and support services during the COVID-19 pandemic so that students can make informed, personal choices on how they access classes and resources.

The College is keeping the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the greater community at the forefront of all decision making, she shares, and is ensuring that students have access to high-quality education and support services to achieve their academic and career goals.

What do you want students to know as they begin the Spring 2022 Semester?

First and foremost, I want every student to know that we are here for them and their success. Polk State’s faculty and staff are truly dedicated to assisting students on their educational pathways, and that has not wavered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Omicron variant has increased health and safety concerns for the Spring 2022 Semester, faculty and staff have worked diligently and swiftly to make modifications that increase flexibility for students. Some face-to-face classes have been converted to hybrid formats, which preserve at least 21 percent of in-person instruction for those classes and provide the flexibility for face-to-face learning to increase as the spread of Omicron is mitigated. Additionally, face-to-face class options have been maintained along with online course offerings.

Student support services also remain available on our campuses, including academic advising, financial aid, libraries, tutoring, testing, and more. To ensure students can access these resources at their comfort levels, College staff have increased the availability of these services via remote formats, and students are encouraged to access assistance by phone, email, and webchat to minimize exposure to and the spread of COVID-19.

What do classes look like this semester?

The College is known for offering a variety of flexible class options in person, online, and in hybrid formats across its six locations in Polk County and during the day, nights, and weekends. Throughout the pandemic, we have found that the hybrid format also allows students and professors flexibility throughout the semester to offer in-person and virtual learning opportunities as public health conditions change.

The Florida Department of Education defines a “hybrid” course as one where “30 percent to 79 percent of the direct instruction of the course is facilitated and delivered using technology, where the student and instructor are separated by time, space, or both.” Polk State students and faculty members have successfully implemented hybrid courses – as well as in-person and online classes – throughout the pandemic. Click here for one of many examples and to get a closer look at how a hybrid course can function.

Students should communicate with their professors and monitor their my.polk.edu and Canvas accounts for communications and expectations related to their specific classes.

What if students need to come to campus to access resources or to attend classes?

Before coming to campus, all individuals should evaluate themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms or if they are sick.

On campus, all individuals are strongly encouraged and requested to wear a mask while indoors. Social distancing of at least 6 feet, when possible, is also strongly encouraged.

The College continues to facilitate these precautions via signage and scheduling, as well as with masks and hand sanitizer made available in classrooms. Enhanced cleaning also continues to take place routinely.

How can students access help remotely?

The College’s COVID-19 page at polk.edu/covid19 provides a comprehensive list of how, when, and where to access resources including advising, financial aid, libraries, tutoring and testing centers, student activities, and more.

It is also important for students to monitor their my.polk.edu emails and Canvas accounts for important communication from their professors and the College, and to keep an open line of communication with their faculty and advisors. Faculty and staff are incredibly valuable resources who are available in a variety of ways – email, phone, Canvas, via office hours both virtually and in person, and more. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the tools and communication methods used in their specific courses.

How can students stay up to date with the College’s COVID-19 protocols?

The College’s COVID-19 webpage at polk.edu/covid19 is a hub for the most up-to-date information regarding Polk State’s Be the Solution: Return to Campus Plan and COVID-19 protocols. Students should also monitor their my.polk.edu emails and Canvas accounts for important communication from the College and their professors. Lastly, the College’s social media pages provide valuable updates and I encourage students to follow Polk State on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I am wishing everyone a successful and healthy Spring 2022 Semester!

Enrollment continues to take place for 12-week classes that will begin on February 2 and eight-week classes that will begin on March 7. Currently enrolled students can register for classes in Passport. Prospective students must submit a free online application to Polk State.