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A Message from the Blackhawk Technical College President

March 24, 2020

As you are well aware, we are facing an unprecedented national health emergency and the information is rapidly changing. We are working together to make the best decisions with the information available. At this time, there are three cases of COVID-19 in Rock County and one in Green County. As the situation evolves and changes, I have been overwhelmed by the agility and patience of our entire college. We are truly living out our mission of flexible education, supportive environment. Your commitment to your educational journey makes me so proud to be a part of Blackhawk.

From the beginning, we have taken our lead from our county, state, and national health experts. Governor Evers’s Order 72 expressly forbids gatherings of ten or more people at any one time in an enclosed space and is in effect indefinitely. Therefore, the only things we know for certain is that we need to keep six feet between us, wash our hands frequently, sanitize our public areas, and employ these and other tactics for an unknown amount of time. Meanwhile, you, your families, friends, and our nation are feeling the impacts of mass closings of entire industry sectors including manufacturing, hospitality, education, transportation, and many others.

Balancing the pursuit of your dreams and aspirations with the well-being of our college family and community has been our focus from the beginning of our planning over a month ago. These are some of the most difficult decisions and resulting actions that organizations can face. Our decision to move instruction to an online format for the foreseeable future is one such decision and you responded.

We do acknowledge the need for hands-on labs and that they are critical to the preparation of our students. As such, we are preparing for as many contingencies as we can including a possible extension of the Spring semester. As I write this message, we are moving our summer schedule to a June start date in all possible areas to allow for several weeks between semesters; opening a timeframe for a Spring semester extension.

With that said, many of you are more than half-way through your semester courses and hundreds of you are hoping to graduate this spring. We are unlike our four-year college and university counterparts insomuch that much of what we do involves hands-on training for workforce development. We simply don’t have the option to stop that work. We must do everything possible to be available to you. When you finish your program, you will fuel the economy, keep us employed, and help our communities survive and recover from this pandemic.

Although we have no way of determining when this will subside, there are actions we can take as a college to slow the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to serve our students. It has always been our goal to resume lab-based activities beginning on Monday, March 30. With the Governor’s further action this morning, that plan has changed. All face-to-face (lecture) instruction will continue online or through alternate delivery methods until the end of the semester.

Our target date for re-opening for lab-based instruction is fluid and changes based on the information we receive daily from county, state and federal sources. We will continue to take precautions to reduce activity and density at all Blackhawk locations. At this time, we are postponing lab-based activities indefinitely with the exception of our Public Safety Academies.

This delay is necessary based on the current set of directives from the Governor’s office and to allow for more time to secure the required personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for employee and student safety when we do partially reopen our facilities.

  • Campus access will continue to be closed to the public until the public health emergency has been lifted.
  • All face-to-face instruction continues to be online.
  • All campus events will continue to be suspended.
  • Student support services will continue virtually including online tutoring, recruitment, financial aid, registration, and advising.
  • For those students who need technology or internet support, please see the FAQs at www.Blackhawk.edu/Coronavirus for information on how to access the necessary resources.
  • The Student Cupboard remains open (virtually) for those students who need to place a food order.
  • Students: please use your Blackhawk email when seeking virtual support services.

The College has plans to extend the semester to give students time to complete their courses. We will provide an extension to complete your coursework, labs, internships, and clinical requirements. ­ If these options do not work, faculty will also be able to use an incomplete grade and allow students to complete work during the Summer term or a future semester.

I understand that this is a very different way for the College to operate; not knowing what will happen week-by-week or even day-by-day. There are so many questions about future events and our ability to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. The College leadership team continues to meet daily to discuss pandemic updates and guidance received from local, state, and federal resources. The College will continue to keep you informed through your Blackhawk email and information available at www.Blackhawk.edu/Coronavirus.

I cannot thank all of you enough for working tirelessly over the past few weeks to adapt to our changing times. Our students and employees have been at the center of every decision made and many of those decisions have not been easy ones. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we continue to work through this together. Together we are Blackhawk Strong.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tracy Pierner, Blackhawk Technical College President

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