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SOWELA announces plans for Fall 2020 semester

Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 6:11 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It’s no secret that this school year will look a lot different...

With a race against time before the new semester begins...Sowela Technical Community College says they’re putting safety first in response to COVID-19.

Monday, SOWELA announced their plans for the fall semester amid COVID-19.

“SOWELA’s fall 2020 semester is rapidly approaching and begins on August 17. In a time of much uncertainty due to COVID 19, we want to make sure our faculty, staff, and students are aware of the plans the College has made to help ensure, as much as possible, their safety, health, and well-being,” said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall.

There will be three formats available for instruction: face-to-face classroom experience, online, and a hybrid model (a combination of online and face-to-face).

”Welding, aviation, nursing, automotive, chemical lab, even truck-driving...We’ve had to redesign the makeup of these classes,” Aspinwall said.

Executive Director of Enrollment Pam Boersig says in terms of safety measures--these summer months have served as a good test run for the fall.

“The other important ingredient is the social distancing..with physical classrooms, it’s 6 feet apart, we’re also doing that with services,” Boersig said.

Because online access may be limited for some students, Boersig says the college will loan laptops at no cost and provide resources for free wi-fi.

“We also have partnered with the State of Louisiana--the Library system to make sure students know about those free resources as well.”

Coming off a record-setting year in terms of enrollment, Dr. Aspinwall says due to the pandemic, they’ve been keeping a close eye on the numbers.

“Our numbers are not as strong as they were last year but it’s surprising everyday...Fall semester of last year was our greatest in history. So, I’m hoping we’ll be close to where we were. So, I’m very optimistic but not worried.”

However, Aspinwall said there is a bit of worry when it comes to the future of the financial budget for the next year, given the current state of the economy.

”What worries me as we move into next school year because we don’t know what the state budget will be and with many industries cutting training, we know we will take a hit on funding.”

According to SOWELA, students who wish to take online courses will have the $40 registration fee waived through Spring 2020, along with the nonresident fee waived for out-of-state and international students.

The Fall 2020 academic calendar has also been modified. It will not include a Fall Break in October.

The fall semester begins on August 17 and will end early on November 25, with exception to technical program testing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as a result of holiday gatherings.

Social distancing protocols will be in effect during instruction and lab times. Masks must be worn on campus, regular hand-washing is encouraged, hand sanitizer stations are available in campus facilities, and equipment, classrooms, and buildings will be regularly sanitized.

The College continues to accept new students for the Fall 2020 semester. For more information, contact the One-Stop Enrollment Center at (337) 421-6550 or onestop@sowela.edu.

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