Following the March 2020 conversion to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wake Tech reopened in August with two priorities: campus safety and student success. We knew we needed to do what we could to protect the health of the campus community while giving students educational opportunities that lead to good jobs, economic mobility and personal fulfillment. We opened with hybrid (a combination of on-campus and online instruction) and fully online courses.

The 2020 academic year has not been without its challenges and bumps in the roads, and it certainly has not been the type of college environment we want for Wake Tech during normal times. However in meeting the two priorities of this unique time – campus safety and student success – it has been a successful start to a challenging year thanks to the discipline and resilience of our students, the commitment and innovation of our faculty and staff, and the support of our community.

As we move into the home stretch of our Fall 2020 semester and begin registration for Spring 2021, North Carolina has moved into a Phase III reopening while facing a recent spiking of coronavirus cases as we confront the winter. With the virus still very prevalent in our community, we must be steadfast in our commitment as we move into Spring 2021. Students who get sick cannot continue coursework or progress toward completion. Faculty who get sick cannot teach; staff who get sick cannot provide important support services our students need.

Our plan for spring is called Learn Well Spring 2021 Plan: Nudging Toward Normalcy. Our spring plan calls for keeping our Safety Guidelines and Protocols in place while offering more opportunities for on-campus instruction and limited activities. As we prepare for a new semester that will begin in what is predicted to be a challenging winter period, our start after the New Year will be much more “nudge” than “normalcy.”  As time progresses however, and as we anticipate the potential for widely available vaccines in 2021, Wake Tech will gradually nudge back to normalcy.

Spring semester will begin as scheduled on Thursday, January 7. Academic calendar dates throughout the semester, including exams, breaks and holidays, will not change. Fall graduation will be a virtual event on Saturday, December 12 for safety, combined with an in-person opportunity for graduates to take pictures in a socially distanced environment in early December.

Spring graduation will take place on May 8, 2021. Ceremonial remarks will be virtual, but we hope to offer an outdoor “graduation stage” for graduates to cross in view of their families.

Note that our Learn Well plan continues to be driven by the most current information available to date. Strategies and protocols may be adjusted throughout the semester as new developments warrant.

Course Options

Students with on-campus instruction were greeted by enthusiastic faculty and staff dedicated to keeping each other safe and healthy. The college’s Safety Guidelines and Protocols outlined extensive measures that would be enforced, including mandatory masks, social distancing requirements, and extensive cleaning and sanitizing. Meanwhile, online students were welcomed by innovative, prepared faculty teaching classes that utilized the latest tools and innovations for high-tech, high-touch instruction.

In the Spring of 2021, all degree and non-degree courses will be offered in a hybrid format (blend of in-person and online instruction) or fully online. The online designation signifies that 100% of the course material is delivered online. Students can access their lessons via a web browser anytime, anywhere. Hybrid courses take advantage of the best features of both in-person and online instruction. Some online classes are “asynchronous” allowing the students to complete them anytime at their convenience, while other online classes are “synchronous,” requiring students to meet virtually with their instructor at set days and times throughout the semester. (asynchronous = anytime; synchronous = set times).

In the fall 2020 semester, many classes, especially hands-on technical courses, returned to our campuses in a hybrid format. In the spring, these hybrid options will be enhanced to offer even more on-campus instruction time. Classes, labs and shops will continue to meet with 1/3 to 1/2 normal student capacity to ensure social distancing. To provide increased opportunities, the college will offer a robust array of accelerated 12 and eight-week classes, in addition to the traditional 16-week semester. Students who are age 65 or older or those who have an underlying medical condition are advised to take fully online courses.

For fully online courses offered during the Spring semester, students will find more online courses in a synchronous format (synchronous = set times), with regularly scheduled class sessions involving the instructor and class taking place at designated times through Microsoft Teams format. Steps have also been taken for students to more clearly understand the format – synchronous or asynchronous -- of their online classes prior to registration, as well as the meeting schedules for their synchronous online courses.

With online instruction continuing to be much more predominant than in the past, it’s important to note that Wake Tech continues to be ranked the #1 online community college in the U.S. To strengthen our online preparedness, all of our full-time instructors have completed our EPIC 30 online instruction certification program, and we have made significant investments to expand technology-based tools such as synchronous video. We will also be offering technology support to eligible students to provide hardware and access support for online learning. Students facing technology challenges to participate in and complete courses – either hardware or connectivity challenges – should contact the office of Student Advocacy & Support at 919-532-5964 or [email protected].

Health and Safety Protocols

Wake Tech’s Environmental Health and Safety Department has established Safety Guidelines and Protocols for the COVID-19 Pandemic to keep our college community safe and healthy. These guidelines for on-campus interaction emphasize social distancing, stringent building cleaning, and recommendations for personal hygiene.

  • Social distancing – Maintaining a safe social distance of at least six-feet apart from one another is a key aspect of this plan. To facilitate this, we are limiting capacities in our buildings and classrooms at any given time so that social distancing can always be maintained. Common areas such as gyms, cafeterias, and other gathering spots will remain closed.
     
  • Face coverings – Face coverings are required in all public locations including classrooms, labs, hallways or outside locations where people may congregate. Students will be expected to bring their own face coverings, however the college does have a supply of disposable masks on hand if needed.
  • Personal Hygiene – In addition to mandatory face coverings and social distancing requirements, everyone on campus is urged to wash their hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Anyone who feels sick should stay home and seek medical care.
     
  • Direct or Indirect Contact with COVID-19 – Employees or students who have come in contact with the coronavirus, either directly or indirectly, should follow these important protocols.

Building Cleaning and Ventilation

  • Building Cleaning – Classrooms and buildings are cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals throughout the day. Recognizing that staying healthy in a pandemic is a shared responsibility, faculty and students may be asked to wipe down their desks and work stations before and after use. Buildings are cleaned every night.
     
  • Ventilation Enhancements – Air filters in Wake Tech buildings have been upgraded to MERV-13 level, wherever possible. MERV-13 is the current standard specified for healthcare facilities; is the CDC/ASHRAE recommended filtration level for COVID-19 response; and more than doubles the filtration capabilities we employed prior to COVID-19. In addition, we have adjusted airflows to circulate the maximum amount of outside air possible, while also maintaining acceptable temperature and humidity levels. Lastly, we are currently implementing Bipolar Ionization on more than 135 air handling units throughout our campuses. BiPolar Ionization will aid in breaking down any airborne viruses and capturing them as the air flows though the higher level filters.

Student Services

Wake Tech has established a Virtual Support Center for students, which is the best and safest way for students and prospective students to receive services such as admissions, financial aid, registration and records, advising, veterans services, career and employment resources, and wellness counseling.

Appointments and virtual assistance are available in advising, admissions, financial aid, and registration and records from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday. All other departments have virtual appointments available at least one evening a week; check the Virtual Support Center for these days and times in each department.

Students and visitors can also receive services on campus in admissions, advising, financial aid and registration and records from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Appointments are encouraged and can be made in the Virtual Support Center for on-campus services; however, walk-ins without an appointment will be served as well. Due to limited staffing on campus, wait times for walk-ins may be longer than usual. Visitors are required to wear a face covering and maintain a safe social distance from others.

Students are encouraged to pay their bill online, but for those who prefer to pay in person, the Cashier’s Offices on the Southern Wake, Scott Northern Wake, RTP and Perry Health Sciences Campuses are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Face coverings and social distancing are required. Online bill payment is easy and convenient on Self Service or the Wake Tech mobile app. Mail-in payments are also accepted.

Bookstores on the Southern Wake, Scott Northern Wake and Perry Health Sciences campuses will be open 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Friday, with extended hours in January for the early semester rush. The RTP Campus bookstore will operate online only. More information on hours and how to order online can be found at bookstore.waketech.edu. The Financial Aid bookstore charging period is January 4th through January 29th.

College-wide fees will be applicable for Spring semester, unlike in the Fall. These include the technology fee, student access fee, and activities fee. The student access fee is only applicable to hybrid courses that have scheduled on-campus classes. Student activities will be offered in a revised, safe format for the Spring semester (as described below), and the State Board of Community Colleges has authorized proceeds from this fee to also be used to provide services and supports to students as a result of Covid-19.

Food service will not be offered on Wake Tech campuses, although vending machines will be operational.

Activities

Although Wake Tech sports and activities were canceled for fall, the college is planning to allow limited on-campus student activities that follow the protocols for mandatory masks, social distancing, and other measures outlined in the college’s Safety Guidelines and Protocols. Wake Tech will not be leasing campus spaces to outside groups for events during the Spring semester.

Wake Tech is planning to offer a limited Spring sports schedule, as allowable by health and NJCAA protocols, to include the sports of men's and women's basketball, softball, baseball, esports, and beach volleyball. Fan participation at Spring athletic events will be limited to players’ families.

Academic Resources

In an effort to provide all Wake Tech students with the academic services and resources needed to support their learning and success, the college will continue offering limited in-person and remote access to tutoring support through its Individualized Learning Center, reference and research support through its Libraries, and online learning and online teaching support through its eLearning and Instructional Design department. While most academic support needs can be met through a web meeting, email, or phone, limited in-person assistance by appointment is available to help with specific special cases.  To make an appointment, follow the links above or visit the Virtual Support Center.

Technology Support

Wake Tech is committed to providing students with the online technology and resources they need for academic success in an online environment. As a nationally-recognized leader in online education, Wake Tech offers unparalleled e-learning and technology support to help students reach their goals and advance up the educational ladder into local employment and economic opportunities.

ITS Help Desk

The college’s ITS Help Desk offers support for students and employees Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

There are several ways connect with the Help Desk:

Walk-in support is available as follows:

  • Southern Wake Campus
    Building B, Room 130 – Monday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m,
    Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Scott Northern Wake Campus
    Building H, Room 151 – Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Perry Health Sciences Campus
    Building A, Room 120, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 8:00 a.m. - noon
  • RTP Campus
    RT-1, Room 115, Tuesday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - noon

Employees

This spring, staff and faculty will work staggered hours when on campus to allow for social distancing in offices. Those whose jobs permit will work remotely when approved by their supervisor. Faculty will conduct all office hours virtually through Microsoft Teams and all college meetings will be held in a virtual environment. While working on campus, employees are required to wear face coverings in common areas such as hallways, break rooms, and inside office suites (except when in individual offices or cubicles). Employees who are at high risk and are scheduled to work on campus should contact HR at [email protected] or 919-866-7890. Those who feel sick should stay home, contact their supervisor and seek medical care. Employees who have had direct or indirect contact with COVID-19 should follow the guidance outlined in the college’s Safety Guidelines and Protocols.

Wake Tech appreciates the cooperation of all members of the college community during this challenging time, and we look forward to continuing to enhance campus life as circumstances permit. In the meantime, let’s all stay healthy and work together to learn well this spring!