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Michigan community college faces new normal for student attendance

"Laptop Keyboard" by DeclanTM is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Grand Rapids Community College’s instructional composition was roughly 80% on-campus learning and about 20% online. Today, it’s the opposite. The pandemic has revealed a “new normal” heading into the fall 2021 semester.

“I don’t think we’ll ever go back to 80% on-campus, 20% online because of what we’ve learned about the needs of our students, and what our students have been able to accomplish.”

Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink says the pandemic revealed students learn best via multiple platforms including hybrid and real-time virtual learning. It also called attention to financial inequities requiring greater support services including meals and housing along with exposing a technology gap with GRCC expanding wi-fi hotspots and providing more laptops.

Pink believes as COVID cases drop and vaccinations increase, a more balanced approach will emerge with the fall 2021 semester offering more in-person classes. Pink says the approach will be calculated and methodical.

“This fall we’ll still see distancing," said Pink. "We’ll still see some of the various protocols that we have right now.”

On campus activities will increase with optional remote components. The community college will continue waiving online fees, saving students $16 per contact hours, through the fall semester.