In the wake of the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, OTC is moving its courses online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. We recognize the challenges that may come with this transition – particularly for those of you who may not have regular access to a computer or Wi-Fi.
What we’re doing
In an effort to support your technology needs during this time, a computer lab will be open at each OTC location from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Monday, March 30. Social distancing will be practiced in the labs, and they will be cleaned frequently for your safety.
Wi-Fi hotspots have also been setup in the parking lots at all OTC locations so you can connect and participate in your courses from your car if you choose to do so.
What others are doing
In addition to OTC’s measures, several technology providers have stepped forward with new agreements and services for customers.
On March 13, the Federal Communications Commission announced nearly 80 broadband and telephone service providers signed the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.” The agreement ensures residents do not lose broadband and phone service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s the full text of the pledge:
- Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
- Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
- Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Several well-known phone providers like Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T took their pledges a step further by offering unlimited data to existing customers.
Additionally, some internet service providers began offering new sign-on deals:
- Comcast is offering two months of free service to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with COVID-19.
- Charter is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps.
- Altice Advantage Internet is offering free home internet access for 60 days for households with K-12 and/or college students who may be displaced due to school closures and who do not currently have home internet access.
The following technology resources are also temporarily available to college students:
Adobe – offering free at-home access to its apps through May 31.
Cisco – changing its free Webex meeting software so it supports unlimited usage, 100 people per meeting and toll dial-in availability.
Google – giving G Suite for Education customers free access to their Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features, which include the following resources:
- Larger meetings (up to 250 participants per call)
- Live streaming (up to 100,000 viewers within a domain)
- The ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive
Some of you may feel uncertain about finishing your semester online. We understand, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or set up a virtual appointment with our OTC Online support staff.
We also have a free Canvas Orientation for Students course you can self-enroll in. Completion is not required and you can come and go from the class as needed.