The annual Student Speak Out gives Brookdale Community College students the opportunity to let the administration know their thoughts and concerns as well as share their kudos for things that are working well. Even though the Student Speak Out was virtual this fall, Brookdale students and administration had the opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation on November 24.

Brookdale students had the chance to submit questions and comments before the Student Speak Out and were also encouraged to attend the virtual event to let the administration know what was on their minds. Members of Brookdale’s Student Life Board read the questions previously sent in from other students. In addition, students in attendance got the chance to exchange their ideas and voice concerns with the college administration.

The topic on most students’ minds during this Student Speak Out was the pandemic and how it is affecting the college. Diamond Bullock, vice president of the Student Life Board and current Brookdale student, asked a question submitted from a fellow student who wanted to know more about how the college is keeping the campus safe for in-person students. Currently, there are a limited number of in-person classes being held on the Lincroft campus in subject areas that are difficult to complete online, such as Culinary Arts and Automotive Technology. Jim McCarthy, project manager of the pandemic response task force, explained the safety measures the college has enacted such as the required COVID-19 pre-screening health questionnaire that must be filled out by all students and staff prior to coming onto campus, the daily temperature scans required at the screening stations on campus, the face-covering requirements, signage, and 6-feet markings on campus. “The classrooms are all deep cleaned after each class,” McCarthy said. In addition, the college has germ-eliminating UVC robots that are used to totally disinfect rooms.

“I think the plans we have in place are working,” said Dr. Yesenia Madas, associate vice president for student affairs at Brookdale, about keeping the students and staff safe. She said the college is following all New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) recommendations and guidelines as well as those from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Another student sent in a question and wanted to know what to expect in the upcoming winterim and spring semesters. Dr. Matthew Reed, vice president of academic affairs at Brookdale, explained the winterim semester is going to be entirely virtual. “Going into the spring semester, you can expect courses in different modalities,” said Reed. He explained the college will be offering completely online traditional distance education classes, remote-live classes that meet virtually on specific days and times, hybrid classes that offer a mix of remote live classes and traditional online components, and some in-person classes in more areas than were offered in the fall. “We found that some students really strongly prefer in-person classes,” Reed said. The college also found some faculty members feel the same way and prefer to teach in-person classes. The college is trying to accommodate these preferences while keeping everyone safe. All in-person classes will follow the safety measures in place to ensure all DOH and CDC guidelines are met. For example, students will have to wear face coverings while on campus and will have to sit 6 feet apart while in class. This means that some larger classes will be held in bigger rooms to permit the distance requirements.

Another topic of concern among students was the restrictions put on athletics due to the pandemic. Molly Fennessy, a current Brookdale student and athlete, asked when athletic practices are able to resume if they would be held inside or outside.

“Athletic practices will remain outside as our first priority is everyone’s safety,” Madas replied.

“I would like to speak on behalf of the student-athletes at Brookdale,” said Julia Canal, current Brookdale student, and athlete. “We love the sports programs here, and we are really, really hopeful that sports will be allowed in the spring,” the softball player said. Brookdale administration echoed Canal’s sentiment and said they too hope sports will be able to resume in the spring.

“We really do appreciate everything that you’ve done,” said Rose Adu, president of the Brookdale Student Life Board and current student, to the administrators at the Student Speak Out.

“I would like to express my appreciation for all of our students,” Dr. David Stout, president of Brookdale, said. “Everyone has been so adaptable and willing to work with us.”

Students are always encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns with the college. More information about the college’s response to COVID-19 can be found here and questions can be sent to covidquestions@brookdalecc.edu.

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