As the coronavirus reached Boston, many institutions for higher learning closed their physical doors to protect the students and communities they were a part of. Community colleges were among those that had to take their teaching online to allow students and faculty to attend remotely to help fight the pandemic. The Massachusetts community college responses to COVID-19 in once again shows why these smaller colleges are the backbone of higher learning and community outreach programs that serve the larger community. Whether it is because so many of our nurses and first responders are trained through these colleges or because they are ready to serve in making masks and donating materials during a crisis, it has never been more evident that these institutions are essential to our country.
As all classes and learning have turned to an online format it has become evident that students need more assistance with digital literacy. Holyoke Community College is now offering a free digital literacy class to anyone in need of this assistance on May 5, 2020. This class will help for success in online learning and even those that have had to switch to working remotely online.
When students of Quinsigamond Community College heard of the need for personal protective equipment at hospitals to help fight COVID-19 they mobilized and acted quickly. The science department and nursing department gathered 45,000 gloves, constructed and donated respirator masks, and sewed masks for the public community.
With campuses closed and students not using the material and equipment they would normally be using if still on campus, colleges have chosen to donate their materials to those in need at this time. Worcester Polytechnic Institute has collected 35,000 nitrile gloves, 2,000 surgical masks, and 100 N95 masks.
Since classes have moved online Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine has chosen to donate their mechanical ventilators to Tufts Medical Center. They are distributing oxygen tanks to local medical centers as well. If there is a need for more medical supplies that they have on campus they are ready to donate those as well.
Becker College has gathered and donated medical supplies to UMass Memorial Center to help with the demand for personal protective equipment during this time.
Students attending Quincy College during the spring term can apply for financial assistance. This assistance is meant to aid students with their need for food, housing, course materials, and health care. This will allow students to continue their education without further interruption due to the financial fall out from COVID-19.
As many students at Northern Essex Community College have been adversely affected by the pandemic, NECC has set up a student emergency fund to assist students during this time. Students can apply for financial help that will assist them with food, housing, and college-related materials. This is designed to help keep at-risk students in college.
Many community colleges have banded together to gather and donate as much PPE as they have, and Valley Tech is no exception. Valley Tech has donated 35,000 pairs of gloves, 500 ear loop masks, 350 RSN810 masks, 550 wipes, 75 N95 masks, 48 disposable cover-ups, 28 goggles, and 48 face shields.
During this time the need for extra hospital beds has surged significantly and the University of Massachusetts has donated the use of its recreation facilities to set up a temporary surge sight for the Lowell General Hospital. The area has 100 beds and will be used for patients that are in stable condition but are still in need of medical attention.
The University of Massachusetts-Amhurst has had an Influenza Forecasting System in place that has received international acclaim which they are now using to develop an intricate forecasting system to predict the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country. This information is providing timely knowledge and data that will help agencies make policy decisions going forward.
The community outreach of these community colleges and institutions for higher learning has been just as unprecedented as the crisis of COVID-19. They have stepped up during a time of need to donate supplies, serve their students, provide needed financial assistance, and offer training to help communities navigate a quickly evolving situation. The future is in good hands if it’s filled with these people that show empathy, have a desire to serve and lift those around them during this time of crisis. The Massachusetts community college responses to COVID-19 have shown what it is to unite under one cause and become better as individuals and communities.
Do you know of another great response to COVID-19 by a Massachusetts college? Let us know so we can recognize their good deeds!