Adjusting to COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has forced the whole world to make major adjustments. In every area of life, change has taken place. We see this in jobs, restaurants, sports, travel, family gatherings, friendships, shopping, churches, and yes, in education. Jacksonville College is no different. During spring break, government recommendations required us to inform our students not to return to campus. The remainder of the semester would be completed online and/or remotely. As a tribute to our staff, this transition took place with few problems. Our technology was in place thanks to our information technology team, Chief Information Officer Mike Creech and David Anderson. Academic Vice President Marolyn Welch and her staff implemented strategies over the past several years to increase growth in online education to the point where we were already approved to offer a degree online. Last May, Jacksonville College had its first student to complete all course work for an associate degree online. Her first time on campus was for graduation.
Every ten years, institutions accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges are required to adopt a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to be implemented over a five-year span. Jacksonville College’s QEP, "Going the Distance with Distance Education,” was adopted last year. Consequently, we had plans in place that allowed us to quickly move the remaining weeks of the spring semester to an online/remote format.
Will face-to-face on-campus instruction cease? I hope not. We plan to offer on-campus classes in August. However, online instruction will continue to grow.
As educational institutions have adapted to the online format, churches have also adapted to offer services through various online formats. Few of us realized how many church members would be watching services through Facebook and YouTube and even through video conferencing.
While we are blessed to live in a time when we can continue to meet virtually, we were not created to live apart from each other. We desire and need contact with others. This is what makes it so difficult for our students who looked forward to the on-campus college experience. Athletes who trained to compete this spring in tennis, golf, and cross country will have to wait another year. Young men and women looking forward to growing strong friendships at Jacksonville College, often in hopes of marriage, will have to develop those relationships online for now. Students looking forward to graduating in May will have to wait another year to participate in commencement with Spring 2021 graduates.
As a preacher, I have had several ask me if this the end of the world. My answer is that I personally hope so. I, like the apostle John, pray, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). I am ready for Christ’s return. However, many are not. I believe God will use coronavirus outbreak for His glory. He is calling unbelievers to repentance and believers to return to Him as their first love. As people all over the world are faced with their own mortality, now is the ideal time to share the gospel. We can still communicate with others through the phone, through mail, and through social media and other online tools. Instead of spending our free time watching television, we need to be telling others about Jesus.
We also need to see this time of social distancing as an opportunity to spend more time in God’s Word and in prayer. We know we serve a sovereign God who is in control even in this pandemic. We should be seeking to know His will. What is the Spirit saying to the church? What is the Spirit saying to Jacksonville College? What is the Spirit saying to Mike Smith?
Jacksonville College congratulates the following prospective members of the Spring 2020 graduating class:
VANESSA AGIS of San Antonio
DAWN ALDAVE of Houston
KAILEY BALDREE of Arlington
BRIANNA BARTON of Tyler
MCKAYLA BLACK of Sealy
SARAH BROOKS of Jacksonville
MONICA CHACON CORDOVA of Humble
ANDRE LUIZ DE MELO GUEDES of Brasilia, Brazil
NAKENDRA ELLIS of Cleveland
LAUREN FREEMAN of Rockwall
CECILIA GALLEGOS of Jacksonville
GALILEA GALVAN of Jacksonville
CRISTIAN GARZON of Goodrich
TAYLOR GLIDEWELL of Jacksonville
BRYAN GONZALEZ of Jacksonville
HANNAH GRISSOM of Spurger
BRANDY GUERRERO of Lufkin
SETH HELLWIG of Jacksonville
DAVOR JAKOVLJEVIC of Santiago, Chile