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General studies student Kennedy Kidrick checks out a Chromebook from Weaver Library Director Laura Wight on Monday, the first day of the second eight-week block of spring semester.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- The halls were quiet Monday as Great Falls College MSU started its second eight-week block of the spring semester.

But that silence, in the wake of classes moving to remote learning and the campus closing to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was no indication of the flurry of activity that comes with the start of a new block of classes. 

Students, faculty and administration were mostly all working and learning from home in order to practice good social distancing.

Spring break, originally scheduled to end on March 15 with classes beginning on March 16, was extended for a week so that faculty and staff could transition classes to online. 

“We are so proud of our faculty and staff and all that they have done to move our coursework and support services online,” said Dr. Susan Wolff, CEO/Dean of Great Falls College. “It was an incredible effort from everybody involved, but we came together with our usual can-do attitude, and we are confident our students will continue to receive top-notch educations.”

One student who did come to campus when she had problems logging on to her computer at home was Terry Wolfe, who is working on getting her pre-requisites out of the way to start the surgical technology program in January 2021.

She was eager to get going for the new block of classes but also curious to see how the move to online classes will go

“The lecture part will be just fine,” she said. “That’s easy. It will be interesting to see how the labs go, but I’m sure that we’ll get it figured out.”

Dr. Leanne Frost, director of general studies, was pleased with how the day went.

“Our second block classes got off to a great start,” she said. “Faculty worked hard to prepare their online classes for students, and students seem to be transitioning well. We recommend students set aside time every day to work on their classes and to contact their faculty if they have any questions.”

On Monday, Great Falls College Health Sciences Director Russ Motschenbacher and Wolff decided to close the dental clinic, which means that dental hygiene and dental assistant students will be delayed in completing their programs.

The dental students, some of whom are not able to come to campus right now for labs and clinicals because of child care or other issues, will now all be on the same schedule.

“It makes more sense to keep all students at the same pace and place,” Motschenbacher said. “With this closure, the students will be able to focus on their lecture classes, and then when we are able to reopen the campus, the students can focus completely on their labs and clinicals.”

Students also came to Weaver Library and checked out Chromebooks and made other preparations for the new start of classes as the campus community prepared for a new normal for at least a little while.

Wolfe, the student preparing for the surgical technology program, probably captured the mood the best in an unprecedented time in world history.

“I just hope that this all blows over and things go back to normal quickly,” said Wolfe, the student preparing for surgical technology.

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