Pikes Peak Community College (Courtesy photo)

Most courses at Pikes Peak Community College will return to a more normal look for the fall semester, officials announced this week.

“With the vaccination rollout going fairly swiftly, our college leadership is confident that returning to classrooms will be a safe option by August,” said spokesman Warren Epstein.

And the May 15 spring graduation ceremony will be a first: a "Drive-In Grad Walk."

“Students will drive up, get out of their car to get their diploma and a photo with PPCC leadership and their families, then get back in the car,” Epstein said.

A virtual component, which Epstein thinks will always be a part of commencement ceremonies post-pandemic, will feature speeches, videos from students and highlights from the Grad Walk.

Staff members are working on fall scheduling and planning for most classes to return to in-person instruction.

Enrollment has been down at PPCC this academic year and at colleges throughout the country, as potential students put their lives on hold during the pandemic. Enrollment dropped by 9% in the fall, officials said, for a total of 12,685 students.

“That delay can be problematic, especially for those struggling in a stalled economy,” Epstein said. “Getting back to class will help so many individually, and it will be a needed shot in the arm for the local workforce.”

Two new learning options that were created out of the pandemic will stay, though.

High-demand classes will continue to be offered in the Hyflex model, meaning PPCC students may choose to attend the course on-campus, and/or online with instruction delivered in a real time platform, or online only.

“These are classes that use the latest interactive video technology to allow students to choose whether, on any given day, they want classes in person or via remote video,” Epstein said.

PPCC has 47 classrooms set up to do Hyflex, he said, with plans for expanding and adding more classes.

Also, live remote classes, which meet online in a virtual classroom with at least 25% real-time instruction, also will be available for popular courses in several disciplines to “better serve students and determine the level of ongoing demand,” according to the college.

The summer semester will operate using the same or similar guidelines to this semester, which has five choices: the Hyflex and live remote, along with in-person, hybrid classes that meet both online and on campus, and online only.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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