Air quality, pandemic make outreach challenging

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During the COVID-19 pandemic Delta College has been forced to move classes, services and college business online.

Delta had a drive-thru planned to welcome new and returning students, but poor air quality and the pandemic have forced the college to cancel the event three times.

The drive-thru intended to introduce students to Delta’s Transfer and Career Pathways, or TrACs, in order to let them know more about the career path options they have available. Staff at the event were going to pass out items such as TrAC T-shirts and more information about the pathways, but now Delta has opted to send them to students after the cancellation.

“We plan to send promo items to students in the mail,” said Tina Akers, associate dean of Institutional Effectiveness.

Director of Marketing and Communications Outreach Alex Breitler highlighted the importance of the drive-thru stating it would have introduced students to how Delta is making career pathways easier for them.

The college rescheduled the event more than once, hoping it could go forward.

“The college has been working for several years on major changes that will help students find the direction they would like to take and finish their educational journey here at Delta as quickly as possible,” said Breitler. “The idea behind the Drive-Thru Welcome Day was to introduce students to this ‘new’ Delta College. That’s why we were really hoping to offer some kind of in-person welcome day event.”

With campus still closed due to the pandemic, Delta College has much of its staff working remotely, mainly through email and phone calls to communicate with anyone needing their services. Delta is also discussing how few events like the drive-thru might still be held on campus.

After switching its services to go online, Delta College has received more messages than usual, and Breitler said it is hard for staff to answer everyone trying to get in contact with them.

“It’s challenging,” said Breitler. “We’ve received more than 51,000 inquiries through live chat since the start of the pandemic, and that’s a lot of people we need to answer questions to. We’ve also seen dramatic increases in social media interaction, and try to proactively answer questions and make sure students are aware of the resources that are available to them.”

Apart from answering numerous emails, Delta College attempts to motivate students to continue working towards their goals despite the crisis.

“We’ve also sent some targeted communications to students who had to withdraw from classes during the spring and summer semester,” said Breitler. “We’ve sent them messages encouraging them not to give up, to come back this fall and continue working on their education. These are obviously really hard times but we’re hopeful our students will be able to stick with it and reach their goals, and we want to urge them to do just that.”

Although Delta College’s campus remains closed for most classes, the school does consider that there could be a few events hosted on campus.

“There are some limited in-person events scheduled for the fall semester, such as our Mustang Pass distribution events, and the Market at Delta College is once again operating on weekends,” said Breitler. “There may be other events as well. But again, they will be limited in nature and must follow strict health protocol.”

When an event is proposed during the pandemic, Delta College’s leadership discusses the proposal and decides whether or not it should take place.

The college makes the decision based on the briefings given by county Public Health experts.

“We look at each potential event through the lens of science and public health when deciding whether it can take place, can take place with modifications, or should not take place at this time,” said Breitler. “The guidance from Public Health is our north star in making all of these decisions. All event proposals must include an outline of safety protocol and must be approved by leadership and the police department.”