Q&A: Resiliency at St. Paul College


All courses at Saint Paul College (235 Marshall Ave.) moved to remote delivery approaches in response to the COVID-19 situation. Some of the technical, service and health sciences programs require face-to-face instruction, which may resume later this summer, according to St. Paul College Interim President Deidra Peaslee. Almost all of the students returned to class April 6 after the extended spring break.

The St. Paul College International Student Coordinator meets with international students to check in on how they are doing and provide any support they may need.

- How has COVID19 and the Stay at Home order affected the college?

As with everyone, the coronavirus (COVID-19) and Stay at Home Order have affected every aspect of the life of Saint Paul College.  We  feel very fortunate, however, to have been declared an essential service so that our students can successfully complete their spring term courses and continue their college education this summer and next fall.

- How have you changed your offerings for students in light of the COIVD-19 situation?

All of the course instruction and support services at Saint Paul College were moved to remote delivery approaches in March.  Our last  in-person courses were March 14.  The last day on-campus for all faculty and staff was Friday, March 20.  By March 25, our student support services resumed operations using remote delivery approaches.  Our classes resumed remotely on Monday, April 6.  Some of our technical, service and health sciences programs require face-to-face instruction so we’re hoping those classes can complete their remaining components later this summer.  From early on, the College has also communicated and posted on our website a wide range of resources to help our students, faculty and staff as they switch to remote instruction, service provision and learning.  That included access to free and low-cost Internet access, computers, and a wide range of community resources to help themselves and their families during this very challenging time.

- What factors have gone into your decisions?

   All our decisions in response to the coronavirus have focused on two goals:

  • First and foremost, keeping all students, faculty and staff safe and healthy by strictly following the latest recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Second, providing every means possible for current students to complete their Spring Term courses successfully.

- How are students managing things and what are you hearing from them?

Yes, we have been hearing from them.  First, almost all of them returned after their extended Spring Break to resume learning when classes restarted remotely on April 6.  Second, our students have been amazingly resilient, not just in finishing their courses, but handling the many other challenges the coronavirus and Stay at Home Order have imposed on them and, in many cases, their children and extended family as well.  Many of them have lost their employment in addition to having new responsibilities for supporting their children in K-12 schools learning remotely.  Some of them also have faced health challenges either their own or within their extended families.  Whenever Saint Paul College has learned of a student, faculty or staff member contracting the coronavirus, we have reached out to express our concern for them and to provide them information to a wide range of resources that can help them during their recovery. 

- What have you heard from educators ?

Our faculty and staff have quite simply been extraordinary.  Saint Paul College’s faculty and staff have long been known and admire for their dedication to supporting students and helping them be successful.  That’s never shown itself more than over the past number of weeks.  It has, of course, been a very stressful time for all of us as we address this new challenge with very little time to prepare and lots of new information flowing almost constantly since early March.  But I couldn’t be more pleased or proud of how the Saint Paul College faculty and staff have pulled together to keep our instruction and support for students moving forward with quality and integrity despite all the challenges in moving rapidly to new teaching and service delivery approaches.

- How do you see this affecting your industry as a whole and what concerns you?

This, of course, is the key question facing all of society as we move through this pandemic.  What does the future hold?  As with any  major event, particularly one reaching every corner of our globe, I’m sure the coronavirus will have long-term and very significant ramifications for higher education.  Beyond the short-term challenges we’ve faced already, we’ll have financial ramifications like most organizations.  Saint Paul College is extremely fortunate to have built significant reserves that will be very helpful in balancing our budgets and maintaining our staffing levels over the next few years.  In the medium term, we’re working hard to assure we can maintain utmost quality in our instruction and support services during our Summer and Fall Terms.  We anticipate it may be some while before we can resume all of the on-campus, face-to-face instruction and services we enjoyed until mid-March.  But having nearly completed Spring Term with only a couple of weeks to prepare, I’m confident we’ll do even better in preparing for Fall Term. I also think that, over the long term, all of us in higher education will take away many lessons from this experience including how we can serve students with alternative approaches to our traditional face-to-face delivery, maintain flexibility and agility in responding to crises and find new ways to work together successfully even though we can’t do so on-campus right now.


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