Dr. Anthony O. Parker

Albany Technical College has made plans to resume offering a more robust fall semester 2021 course calendar. We understand that it is our responsibility to make the learning and teaching environment as safe as possible. We also understand that other activities related to college attendance require safe interaction between students and our staff. We intend to do as much as we can, as safely as we can, as quickly as we can.

Your community’s technical college has redesigned the student services area so that prospects and students may be advised, tested, counseled, and registered in an environment that is much safer than even before COVID. We continue to use low-touch kiosks to schedule on-site appointments and walk-ins. 

We will continue to schedule appointments to maximize productivity and minimize trips to campus. Office cubicles have been redesigned with sliding doors to reduce the possibility of biologic microbe exchanges upon entry and exit. Student services workstation signs are much larger to minimize the likelihood of guests and students becoming lost while seeking services. Work surfaces are made of more cleanable materials so that each station is sanitized after a guest. The workflow has been redesigned so that visitors to the campus move from station to station in one direction. The testing center has been redesigned to safely separate students. 

Any test that can offer online with a high degree of integrity has been and will continue to be provided online. 

All full-time faculty at Albany Technical College has private offices with a door for the confidentiality of student counseling. 

That level of privacy also creates a safer environment for one-on-one interactions with students. Adjunct faculty have been assigned temporary offices in the Advisement Center and Academic Achievement Center. Those shared spaces are designed to be cleaned after each meeting.  

We continue to clean lab equipment and redesign instructional space as needed. The student center/student activities areas should be completing their modifications by September 1, 2021. Our prior safety protocols remain until then. Only faculty, staff, and students that work in the child development center are allowed access. Medical programs will continue using CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health protocols. High-touch programs will continue using industry standards.

Faculty, students, visitors, and staff are encouraged, but not required, to take a temperature check before entering a campus building. As such, temperature screening stations remain in place. Faculty, students, and staff with exposure to COVID, who have not been vaccinated, should continue the quarantine process. Faculty, students, and staff who continue to have good reasons to wear a mask or feel safer wearing a mask are encouraged and welcomed to do so. A plan exists to return on hybrid instruction or online if needed.

Two recent experiences cause me to predict that some of the changes in how we currently do business are likely permanent. I attempted to order a meal from a fast-food restaurant from the inside kiosk as the drive-through line seemed too long. It took me so long to understand the process that a pre-teen walked up in disgust and said, “tell me what you want, and I’ll place the order.” It doesn’t appear that this restaurant ever plans to return to a Baby Boomer Friendly configuration. 

On a recent short business trip, I drove past eleven new car dealerships and many used car lots. All had sparse inventory. 

However, several had signs out front saying, “NOW HIRING QUALIFIED TECHNICIANS.” The contradictory positions of hiring technicians during low inventory and marginal new car sales prove that this industry depends on us.

As workforce developers, what have we done well, and what will we do next to make our learning and support environments safer? 

Some prospective students are waiting to hear from us before they rejoin the workforce education pipeline. We obviously must consider the health and safety factors. However, we must also consider the customer service ramifications of our changes. Safety and service must be considered and communicated simultaneously for Albany Technical College to return to robust enrollments and graduation rates, as we OPEN FOR BUSINESS.