What a Year! | KCTCS

What a Year!

by Dr. Paul Czarapata - December 14, 2020

Is it an understatement to say 2020 has been crazy? At this time last year, no one had a clue that COVID-19 would turn our lives upside down for nearly all of 2020. When we heard about the new virus, we did not comprehend how quickly it would spread across our increasingly shrinking world.   

In Kentucky, we have seen daily reports about the growing numbers of those who are ill, hospitalized, and those who have passed away. It is heartbreaking to see, and my sympathies go out to our KCTCS family and all who have been affected.  

Never could we have imagined the havoc this virus would create. And how could we? We have never seen anything like it in our lifetime. But we were not about to be outdone by a virus!  

As community colleges typically do, we were able to pivot quickly and move our classes to remote instruction. Many people were unhappy about it. It was tough on students, faculty, and staff who were learning to work in new ways. I am so proud of how everyone responded and commend everyone for being open to the changes and doing their best to push forward.

Even though it was different, there were several bright spots.   

  • Academic year 2019-20 was a record year in terms of graduates and credentials awarded. That could not have happened if our students had not hung in there and finished the spring semester strong. It could not have occurred if our faculty had not been creative and flexible when asked to move to remote instruction. It could not have happened if our staff had not supported students virtually. 

  • Our colleges stepped up immediately to produce and donate PPE to local healthcare facilities. They also made sure their food pantries were stocked, and they set up wi-fi hotspots in their parking lots. Those hot spots received national media coverage and helped students from many public schools and universities, not just KCTCS.   

  • Our staff members stepped up in a big way to make sure our buildings were ready for students in the fall. Each classroom was spaced according to CDC guidelines, and we sanitized everything! Colleges bought plexiglass, signage, thermometers, masks, and tons of wipes and hand sanitizer. Thankfully, we received CARES funds from the federal government to help cover the cost.  

  • Using CARES funds, we provided $11 million in aid to help KCTCS students across Kentucky with housing and food costs. 

  • KCTCS was named to Forbes list of America’s Best-in-State Employers.  

  • The KY FAME program received national attention through a study from Opportunity America and the Brookings Institution that showed the program’s positive outcomes and the high salaries our graduates are earning.  

We have made it through the fall semester and the outlook for 2021 is brighter with the announcement of several vaccines on the way. Although it has been a crazy year, we can proudly look back on what we as a system accomplished. Thank you to all students, faculty, and staff for rising to this challenge and making the best of it.  

Happy holidays and cheers to a healthy 2021!