Clark State, Wittenberg connect with students during distance learning

Clark State Community College and Wittenberg University are staying connected to students through different ways during this time of distance learning.

Clark State implemented two call campaigns to reach out to students, with 40 staff members volunteering to make personal phone calls to them, according to a release from the college.

“The intent of the first call campaign was to check on our students and to see how they are doing with everything that is going on,” said Natalie Johnson, associate dean at Greene County locations. “We were able to identify areas of need and connect them with the appropriate office for support. For example, a student may have been connected with the Office of Student Support, Counseling Services or their success coach.”

The second campaign, which is underway, is to reach out to students who requested financial assistance through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“The intent of the Act is to get the money to students quickly to help during this uncertain time,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president. “This formula took into account Pell eligibility, and those students are strongly represented at community colleges. We appreciate the focus on financial need.”

RELATED: Coronavirus: Clark State receiving $2.9M in federal aid for students, financial relief

Clark State has assisted 1,060 students with the $2.9 million they received from the CARES Act, half of which went directly to students whose education was impacted and the other half went to the college to provide financial relief for related expenses.

The overall response from the campaigns has been positive as students have appreciated the college expressing concern for them.

Wittenberg has also been frequently checking in with students for support and outreach, said Jon Duraj, senior associate dean of students for student success and retention.

“Faculty advisors, members of our COMPASS: Sweet Success Center, Dean’s Office, coaches, and Residence Life staff intentionally make contact with students to support them in the transition to remote instruction back in March and have continued to provide ongoing support over the past two months,” he said. “This outreach is planned to continue into the summer as we look toward the fall semester.”

When checking in with students, Duraj said a few things go into identifying areas of need and students are connected to those who can help.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Wittenberg’s $1.7M of federal money will go to students

“First and foremost, student and family well-being is primary when checking-in. Additionally, asking students if they are in a stable environment, have access to technology or other resources, and discussing their new normal have been focuses of much conversation,” he said. “Any student that is facing resource, access, technology, or well-being challenges are referred and connected to resources via our Dean’s Office and COMPASS: Sweet Success Center.”

The overall response to staff reaching out has been positive as the university has been consistent with its care and support, and it is welcomed by the students.

Wittenberg has received $864,385 of the $1.7 million they will get through the CARES Act, which will all go directly to students who are eligible for Title IV federal financial aid and to offset any costs that may have incurred.

“Wittenberg did not require students to apply for funding. Instead, we used the federal guidelines to distribute funds to our students. We felt that making students apply for funds created a hurdle for obtaining assistance,” said Dr. Amy Barnhart, director of financial aid.

Wittenberg has distributed funds to 1,296 students so far, Barnhart said.

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