Skip to content

Assisting Students During a Pandemic

SCC Continues to Help Keep Students on Track and Able to Complete Their Education

CARES Act Funding-Student Aid

Sandhills Community College qualified to receive a little over $1 million through The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funds provided Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students for expenses related to campus operations disruption due to the pandemic. The College received the federal funds at the end of April with the requirement that the money is spent within one year of receipt. Additionally, the federal government guided allowable expenses and eligibility criteria.

Staff member waves from behind a barrier in Student Services.

The College installed permanent protective barriers in high-traffic areas in Student Services, the Business Office, the Library, the Continuing Education offices, and at the Welcome Desk in Dempsey Student Center.

Vice President of Student Services Kellie Shoemake said, “Our initial priority was to provide funding, as quickly as possible, to students who demonstrated the most significant needs as determined by their 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Within weeks of receiving the funds, the College awarded close to 700 students with award amounts ranging from $600 to $1100. Because classes moved from the classroom to online, some students used the money for expenses involved in upgrading or purchasing a laptop or home computer, paying for monthly internet expenses, or off-campus food needs.

“Because we knew the situation negatively impacted many of our students who may not have demonstrated great need before we moved online in mid-March, we also allowed all other eligible students to apply for the funds.”

While the lock-down had a tremendous impact on Sandhills’ students for the considerable part of the spring semester, the College reserved some of the CARES Act funds and awarded the money to students who were impacted during the summer and fall semesters.

By the end of September, a total of 863 curriculum students had been assisted for spring, summer, and fall semesters.

CARES Act Funding-Institutional Use

Sandhills also qualified for another $1 million CARES Act money for institutional use.

In order to maintain academic integrity, the College purchased software that allows verification of the identity of the person completing and submitting online work and to electronically proctor students while they are taking online tests.

Because faculty was forced to move all courses online in March, which maintained academic rigor and integrity, and then again for their summer and fall semester classes, they were granted supplementary contracts.

With a campus of nearly 4,000 curriculum students, over 6,500 continuing education students, and over 400 faculty and staff, Sandhills began an aggressive plan, devised by a Communicable Disease Team, to slow the virus’ spread on the campus. Designated as the Communicable Disease Team’s primary team leader, Joe Steppe is responsible for investigating all exposures and possible and confirmed positive cases in a timely and efficient manner. As of this article’s writing, none of the positive cases were contracted at the College, and none of the positive cases infected anyone else at the College.

The CARES Act funding also helped cover the costs associated with additional personnel needed for daily campus sterilization and virus mitigation.

Campus-wide WiFi was improved to fully cover all buildings and common areas, and several classrooms were outfitted with cameras and microphones to better facilitate remote learning.

Foundation Contribution

Because Sandhills has many generous donors to the College, the Sandhills Community College Foundation put forth funds to provide additional support to students. This money was used to help students cover the cost of utilities, rent, food, tuition, and more.

Continuing Education Student Assistance

Continuing Education students received CARES Act assistance to continue their training. By the end of June, 57 students received aid for expenses related to campus operations disruption.

The Foundation provided funds that paid the class fee for 26 Continuing Education Workforce Development classes leading to an employment credential. Two hundred sixty-three students took advantage of the offer.

The Department of Education awarded states money for scholarships distributed through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. Eligible students in Workforce Continuing Education classes that lead to a state or industry-recognized credential will be presented with scholarships. The money can help cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, supplies, credentialing tests, transportation, childcare, and other components as deemed necessary.

State Library Grants

The Katharine L. Boyd Library undertook two projects as an outgrowth of the pandemic. A pair of State Library grants totaling $11,000 allowed the College to enhance WiFi coverage in the library.

Associate Dean for Library Resources Tammy Stewart explains, “As laptops and mobile devices improved over the years, the size and structure of the library required a greater signal strength than was originally installed. Our students faced many challenges with connectivity in ‘dead zones’ in the library.”

The library grants were made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

More Posts
Back to top