COD President Brian Caputo hosted a Town Hall meeting last week to address multiple concerns stemming from rising COVID-19 cases. But there’s good news in the short term for local taxpayers and students looking to stretch their tuition money.
With COVID-19 cases hitting 35,284 in DuPage County since the onset of the pandemic, COD announced that all hybrid classes will be moved to remote learning later in the week. The college has seen 41 total COVID-19 cases – 33 students and eight employees. Through a virtual town hall meeting, Caputo spoke about the emotional help available for the college community and the flexibility needed for the next months.
“Uncertainty is difficult,” Caputo said, “and we are all dealing with a host of issues in our own personal and professional lives, which in many ways stretch our intellectual and emotional capacities.”
Introducing a new five-year plan for COD development, including more Dual credit classes being encouraged to high schools, STEM recruitment, and help to fund more assistance for minority students and more attention to equal opportunities for diverse faculty and staff.
“Equity is embedded throughout the plan,” Caputo said. “It is really central to who we are.”
Caputo also addressed the concerns of course workloads and how students will manage school and outside obligations to reduce pressure in our lives.
“Prioritize your work. Not everything needs to be done as soon as you get them,” he said.
Along with adapting to the new normal, Caputo announced a budget that calls for no tuition increases and no property tax increases for one year. The board of trustees must approve the plan.
“Over the past years we have been increasing the tuition by a dollar, but logically we cannot sustain that forever,” Caputo said. “We are trying to draw down the fund balance over several years and then come up with a solution to gradually bring it up again.”
However, Caputo said the pandemic has taken a toll on the college both financially and in terms of an overworked and overwhelmed faculty.
“We are gonna have to be flexible to respond to our environment, whether it be the pandemic or enrollment,” Caputo said. He added that could mean determining the “right size for our organization” if the enrollment continues to plummet.