By Marleigh Belk
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” During the fall of 2020, Wilson ensured that students were still able to receive their highly sought-after education while taking online courses.
Due to the increase of COVID-19 Wilson College had to make a tough decision and move students to all online courses for the Fall semester.
Wilson College wanted to ensure that students still received a good education while taking classes online, so they offered to help students with whatever they needed.
I had the opportunity to speak with Cassandra Latimer, who is the president of marketing and communications at Wilson College. She and her team wrote a news article about Wilson’s decision to close campus during the worldwide pandemic.
Cassandra mentions that “The biggest factor to moving students online was that we did not have testing readily available.” COVID tests ranged from being a $5 test to a $150 test. Cassandra stated that “by having WellSpan here on campus administering the test for us we know that it is administered the exact same way and it’s the same manufacturer for all the tests.
Additionally, It’s the same process so we knew we could have some consistency and be fairly confident in our results and then be able to report those results.” To make the safe decision Wilson wanted to ensure that all students could be tested regularly to avoid an outbreak.
Throughout the Fall semester, while students were online, Wilson began “setting aside funds” because they were unsure of how much it would cost. From a financial standpoint, multiple schools all over the states had not prepared a budget for a worldwide pandemic.
Although the school decided to close campus for the fall semester, they were able to make accommodations for students. Cassandra mentioned that Wilson was able to provide students with IT help such as a camera for a short-term basis or a laptop.
Shockingly she states, “we even had some students when we were not really open, come and sit in the car so they could get Wi-Fi.” Wilson was as flexible as they could be, to ensure that students still received the proper education and did not feel overwhelmed with the circumstances.
Additionally, in terms of the faculty, over the summer they all went through a “curriculum where they were required to learn how to transition from face-to-face classes to all Zoom classes.” Although students and faculty struggled to familiarize themselves with the new changes Wilson provided any help that they could.
As the semester continued Wilson’s president, Wesley Fugate, decided to allow students to take one free J-Term class. The J-Term class was given as a way for students to retake a course, or if they wanted to lighten their load for the fall semester, they could drop that class and take it later in January.
When I asked Cassandra if there was any other reasoning behind the J-Term class she said, “if we could help students catch up or become more comfortable with the online environment then we wanted to do anything we could.”
Fugate’s philosophy was really about being very student-centric, and meeting students where they are, and helping them to succeed.
When asked if Cassandra would be writing a follow-up article about how students are doing this spring semester with the COVID regulations she mentioned that yes, they would be writing a follow-up article.
Additionally, they will also be adding how Commencement is planning to happen this May. Do you think Wilson made the right decision for Fall and Spring Semester?
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