Cochise College is bringing in new features for the fall semester. With the start of classes on Aug. 16, the college is encouraging students to get enrolled as soon as possible.

“We understand that it’s been tough for some students coming out of the last year and a half … but we’re ready to welcome students back,” said Cochise College President Dr. J.D. Rottweiler.

According to Rottweiler, it hasn’t just been a rough year for students. The college has been suffering with issues as well. The main issue the college has been dealing with is enrollment.

“We are not seeing the level of enrollments and interest that we’d typically see,” Rottweiler said. “Everybody believed, when we went into this, that community colleges would see massive enrollment growth, instead we actually saw the largest decrease.”

While this decrease in enrollment would only seem like a temporary problem, its effects are lasting through some programs.

“Our (automotive and welding) classes especially have been hit hard,” said Dr. Rod Flannigan, the dean of Business and Technology. “These classes have cap sizes, cap sizes that are usually around 30, (of) which only 15 will proceed onto the next, and only seven or eight of that will proceed to the next. With the reduced cap sizes we had this past year, those classes and cap sizes had been cut down drastically. A class that would usually be sitting at eight students is now at three. What do you do in that situation?”

It’s because of items like this the college has been pushing enrollment hard. It hopes to avoid smaller classes and wants to bring students back into the classroom as much as possible.

Enrolling and currently enrolled students may have noticed the wide variety of class options available, which is what Cochise College was hoping would happen. Boasting seven instructional methods for their classes, the college is prepared to meet students’ needs.

“Students can expect a little bit of everything.” Rottweiler said. “We’re moving back to full face-to-face courses, but we’ll continue to offer remote or via Zoom. Students will have a range of offerings available to them.”

The newest addition to Cochise College’s class methods is the option of “HyFlex.” Listed in the course schedule as HYF, the HyFlex courses will enable students to take the class in any way they choose.

“Starting this fall, HyFlex is a new class modality that allows students to choose how they participate,” said Flannigan. “It’s all about meeting the needs of the students no matter where they are.”

Currently offered only for computer information systems courses and cybersecurity courses, HyFlex offers students the opportunity to choose how to participate in their classes. Students may attend in person one class period, attend via Zoom the next, or even miss out on the class as the session will be recorded and uploaded to an online portal. As they complete and submit their assignments through the week, their participation will be counted.

“We’re trying to meet our students in a way that helps them,” Flannigan said. “If students want to see more like this, sign up.”

To help get students into the workforce faster, Cochise College plans on creating new programs soon. With new medical and trade courses, the college is expanding students’ horizons.

“We do have some new programs that are in the pipe ... We’re going to be doing some coursework in medical billing and coding, phlebotomy and EKG technician,” Rottweiler said. “We’re doing some work in what we’re calling mobile trades … things like construction, plumbing, electricity and HVAC.”

The plan is to have these new courses available as soon as possible.

For students wondering what COVID guidelines Cochise College plans on following, Rottweiler said that they will be advising students to follow the latest CDC guidelines.

“We will be putting the responsibility on the individual,” Dr. Rottweiler said. “There will be areas where students can socially distance, but we’ll be switching it from an institutional responsibility to a student and faculty responsibility.”

This switch from an institutional choice to an individual choice comes from Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order 2021-15, which states that public universities or community colleges may not mandate that students are vaccinated against COVID, ask for proof of vaccination, enforce mandatory testing or even enforce mandatory mask usage. Signed June 15, the order is set to remain in place until the end of the public health emergency.

“We’re ready to go,” Rottweiler said. “The college has worked really hard to gear up … and we think we’ve got the services necessary if people reach out to us.”