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President Pink featured as guest during Dec. 2 Student Alliance meeting, answers COVID-19 related questions

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President Pink speaking with Student Alliance members and the audience during the town hall meeting on Dec. 2, 2021. (Courtesy Photo/Luis Fernandez)

By Alena Visnovsky

The Dec. 2 Grand Rapids Community College Student Alliance meeting featured GRCC President  Bill Pink who answered questions posed by students, faculty and administrators.

The Collegiate asked Pink if the college has seen more positive cases in the campus populace as the numbers continue to climb throughout Kent County and the state. Pink noted college administrators continue to monitor and update the number of cases on campus.

“GRCC keeps a very close eye on what positive cases look like and there are people the school has hired to be contact tracers,” Pink said. “There are up to date coronavirus metrics and information available on the school website.” 

According to GRCC’s website, there were 23 on-campus cases reported between Nov. 29 and Dec. 5. So far, a total of 194 cases have been reported this semester. 

Individual classroom capacity is currently at 75% for social distancing. Pink also mentioned that the numbers in Kent and Ottawa County could determine what the school does next and how much we mitigate. He said the winter 2022 semester will likely look the same as the current semester. 

Pink noted that 35-40% of GRCC’s classes are in-person this semester and said the college will reevaluate its current measures because of the new coronavirus variant, and that GRCC will not change the current class capacities without looking at the numbers.

“It doesn’t matter what we do, we’ll always have people who will question the decisions,” Pink said. “When you’re in a situation where you’re not ever going to please everybody, you have to do what you think is right, and that’s what we’ll do.” 

The newly appointed Operations Director of Student Life Luis Fernandez asked, “What are some of the challenges going forward and emerging with COVID?”

“The challenge with COVID all along has been the unknown and how it’s going to affect GRCC,” Pink responded. “So much of the last 20 months has been the institution adhering to the mandates that come down, with no choice; everything the school has done has been a reaction to what we’ve been told to do through multiple shutdowns.

“Our biggest concern going forward is the mystery of the unknown,” he continued.

Additionally, he brought up a point regarding class delivery modes. He said that online and virtual options have actually allowed more students to enroll at GRCC.

Prior to the COVID outbreak, GRCC classes were 80% in-person and 20% virtual. Pink implied that GRCC is not necessarily looking to return to that ratio because virtual classes have been helpful for students who are busy with family and work.

He said his goal is to make sure the school strikes the right balance with class delivery modes and that a ratio of around 65% in person and 35% virtual is what the school is looking for. 

“We need to make sure we’re serving all our student population with how they need these classes offered,” Pink said.

The next Student Alliance town hall meeting will be Jan. 13 at 2 p.m.

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