Dental hygiene

Baileigh Tucker, a BridgeValley CTC student dental hygienist, worked with Pamela Fan-nin, a patient from Glasgow, earlier this year in the clinic at the BridgeValley Dental Hygiene Department.

MONTGOMERY — BridgeValley Community and Technical College recently announced it has been reaccredited and given another decade to fulfill its mission.

At its January meeting, the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission issued formal notification it has renewed BridgeValley's accreditation for 10 years. The next reaffirmation is set for the years 2029-30, according to a press release.

The action is the result of a site visit in October 2019. Prior to the visit, BridgeValley completed and submitted a comprehensive self-study report. School officials reported the self-study was well-received by the commission, returning just one concern. That concern, action with interim monitoring, necessitates interim monitoring over the course of five years, and is in regard to an assessment of student learning.

"We are pleased to have received reaffirmed accreditation," said BridgeValley President Dr. Eunice Bellinger, who oversees an institution with campuses in Montgomery and South Charleston. "This validates the commitment of our faculty, staff and students as we work together to provide the highest quality education possible to our community."

According to the Higher Learning Commission's website, hlcommission.org, the commission is a regional accreditation agency that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in a 19-state region of the United States. Regional accreditation "validates the quality of an institution as a whole and evaluates multiple aspects of an institution, including its academic offerings, governance and administration, mission, finances and resources," the HLC says on its website. The commission's institutional accreditation program includes all degree levels, in addition to onsite and online offerings.

Regional accreditation agencies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree-granting colleges and universities in six U.S. regions.

BridgeValley Community and Technical College serves a six-county region including Fayette, Raleigh, Nicholas, Clay, Putnam and Kanawha counties. For more information about the college's financial aid opportunities, programs of study, workforce training and community education and events, call 304-205-6600 or visit http://www.bridgevalley.edu.

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As the college marched forward in a landscape drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials assessed the spring semester and planned for the future.

BridgeValley recently offered an adjusted timeline for the fall semester, with most classes beginning Aug. 10. Many of the courses will utilize virtual platforms rather than in-person classes. Course types will be identified as either virtual remote (meet at published times using supported virtual meeting platforms) or hybrid (classes requiring physical meetings). Faculty and facilities staff will work together to create learning environments which minimize the risk of virus transfer. Also, courses and programs which require in-person sessions for labs, hands-on applied learning and clinical rotations will be conducted in the best way to satisfy personal safety requirements, officials say.

According to information supplied earlier by Crystal Berry on behalf of the BridgeValley communications office, the school "moved together as a unit and worked swiftly to not only transition students but also faculty and staff to online learning." Summer and fall class offerings have been updated "to keep everyone safe and healthy, while still helping them further their college education."

While the current health crisis caused the school to re-order activities and class gatherings, all spring semester programs were "able to fulfill the requirements laid out by governing accreditation agencies and BridgeValley's board of governors." That occurred through "tireless efforts of staff, faculty and especially our students."

Prior to the pandemic, officials point out, the trend in higher education was to have a mix of online and traditional offerings, with an overall aim of providing options for students.

"While mixed modalities will continue to be developed, we strongly support the notion that a college education includes the interaction of students, faculty and staff in communal activities," said BridgeValley President Dr. Eunice Bellinger.

"We are very fortunate to have programs which are flexible in delivery modalities," Bellinger added. "That means we are careful to make sure we are teaching our programs the best way we can ensuring that our programs are complete.

"We want to assure our students and staff that we will provide a safe, clean environment as well as the latest technology to provide a quality and comprehensive experience."

"Almost without exception, students were successful in completing the semester," said Dr. Peter Soscia, vice president of academic affairs. "We will build on this knowing that we can deliver a high-quality learning experience safely and effectively.

"We want our entire BridgeValley family to know that there are two things we will never compromise: their safety and the excellence of the education that is delivered by our institution."

For more on fall start dates and modality descriptions, visit https://www.bridgevalley.edu/coronavirus.

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As elsewhere on BridgeValley's two campuses, the GRID (Generate, Restore, Innovate, Design), which combines business and creative endeavors, has experienced changes due to COVID-19.

A virtual STEAM Camp will be hosted by the GRID during three different weeks in June. Summer activities will be delivered remotely through teleconference technology and/or social media platforms. Additionally, plans are being made for a physical reopening of the GRID to resident artists and GRID members. People using GRID spaces will be expected to wear masks, adhere to social distancing guidelines, and keep spaces cleaned and disinfected.

For information about additional GRID events and activities, visit https://www.facebook.com/BVGRID or email grid@bridgevalley.edu. Those with questions regarding access should call 304-734-6700 or email GRID@BridgeValley.edu. The GRID is located at 807 2nd Avenue, Montgomery.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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