Brad Byrd InDEPTH: Ivy Tech COVID-19 Impact

In Depth with Brad Byrd

Ivy Tech Evansville Chancellor Daniela Vidal spoke to Brad Byrd about what the campus has planned for the fall.


Brad Byrd. This is InDEPTH. For thousands of college students here in the Tri-State 2020 continues to be a year of uncertainty, a year of mystery. What in the world is next? Well, community colleges are in the middle of the impact COVID-19 is having on our higher education. Joining me live tonight is Daniela Vidal. She is the chancellor at Ivy Tech Evansville. Chancellor, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Community Colleges nationwide are seeing a spike in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Are you seeing that happening here up on the First Avenue campus?

Daniela Vidal: Yes, Brad. Actually this past week, we have seen definitely a pickup in the pace of registrations for summer and fall. There was a little bit of a lag, but it’s definitely picking up quickly as plans are starting to lay out and people are starting to take advantage of what we’re having to offer right now.

BB: And students are, from what I’ve read, are considering Ivy Tech and schools like Ivy Tech as entry portals in their higher education goals. Why is that right now?

DV: Yes, absolutely. That’s what we’re seeing and reading nationwide and we’re seeing that as well here. Ivy Tech has been working this last year to position itself with increased flexibility. We have most of our courses are now offering eight week increments, which right now that is really giving that advantage for students that are trying to kind of wait and see what happens with their universities and colleges as they lay out their opening plans. We’re offering our guest students program right now. So any senior that has an acceptance letter to a four year and are unsure or still waiting to see what happens they can apply free on our website, present their acceptance letter and start taking courses while while they wait for things to kind of settle down.

BB: Indiana University today and Ball State University announced they will be opening up in person classrooms mixed like a hybrid with online courses. Is Ivy Tech closer to opening up in person classrooms for the fall semester and why is that going to be so challenging?

DV: We have announced that we are coming back in our buildings on August 24 for the fall semester, and we are going to be offering a combination of in person, online, virtual or hybrid courses. So our students are going to be able to choose week by week what they feel comfortable with each week, if they want to do it virtually or they want to do online, they can do that. If they want to come in during the week, they can do that as well in person. So we’re really trying to stay as flexible as possible so we can ensure the safety and the comfort levels of our students and our staff and faculty as well.

BB: The way we perceive higher education, how has Ivy Tech evolved in its course openings based on the needs of the students and local employers? And this is something that has been evolving before the pandemic even entered the picture.

DV: Absolutely, we’re constantly reviewing our programs and staying very close in touch with our business partners across the state and and the industry to make sure that our programs are going hand in hand with the skills that are needed for Hoosiers to get into the workforce and to be prepared for those jobs, but definitely right now that’s even more important than ever. We’re part of a task force across the state to see what is the impact that COVID is having already in the economy, many different industries, some are picking up faster than others. So we’re making sure that we’re reshift and retooling our programs to provide those skills in the industries where we see the jobs that are picking up. And for those that are losing jobs, be able to, to get those skills to be employed as quickly as possible.

BB: These online courses, they do offer a pipeline for students to continue their education when they basically have to stay home. But there’s that in class teaching experience that is still preferred by so many. What do you think?

DV: Yes, definitely. And that’s something that we’re looking into, making sure that we’re balancing those needs by for a lot of our hands on courses that you have to have those lab experiences or clinicals, we are actually opening them up in July; we’re having what we’re calling completion academies. So for those students that in the spring semester, were not able to finish their courses because they still have a certain amount of hours that need to be face to face, they’re going to be able to complete those courses in July. And then as we have learned a lot through these experience on what can be done very effectively, through virtual and online education, we’re making those changes so that we can have a safe space for those things that need to be face to face or those students that definitely prefer the face to face. Were able to have those options with the safety and social distancing in place.

BB: Challenging times, indeed. Chancellor Vidal, thank you so much for joining us tonight to talk about what Ivy Tech Evansville is offering especially in the face of this pandemic. Stay safe and thank you so much.

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