HCC introduces flexible in-person learning for the fall

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Community College is introducing a "flex campus" option that will allow students to continue in-person courses in the fall while following state guidelines for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said HCC, like all other higher education and public education, is faced with a high level of uncertainty as far as opening the classroom, how many students can be allowed in while maintaining safety and when the semester will start and end.

Maldonado said a poll sent to students showed their comfort level returning to face-to-face education has decreased by nine percent from late May to now.

The community college said they will repurpose existing resources that will give students the option to learn in the way they feel most comfortable.

SEE ALSO: Houston area school districts fall 2020 plans.

"Flex campus allows students to register for a certain section, a certain location and time for a course and we will hold that schedule, but we will allow students into the face-to-face part of it on a sliding scale," Maldonado said.

The chancellor said if a section holds 18 students and the state says they are able to have 50 percent occupancy in the classroom, they will allow in nine students and the rest will be able to watch online. As the state adjusts the occupancy level, HCC will either transition more students into the classroom or to online learning.

Through the flex campus model, students can choose to attend class in-person one day and take it online the next meeting. Maldonado said it gives students flexibility, while keeping the class meetings scheduled for a certain day and time.

Enrollment for HCC is down for the fall, according to Maldonado, but they anticipate it will be higher than previous years by the time the semester starts.

"Right now year-over-year, we are down about 33 percent," Maldonado said. "We expect to make that up."

He said they have not seen enrollment from dual-credit high school students yet and they are running behind on their number of students who have graduated high school, returning students and new students.

"We expect to catch up," Maldonado said. "I think the students themselves are unsure about their personal situation and what they can afford."
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