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Edward Waters College Taking Steps To Help Students Affected By Coronavirus

Edward Waters College
Edward Waters College
Edward Waters College

Jacksonville’s Historically Black College, Edward Waters College, announced Friday that it will be taking several steps to help its students who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Despite these trying times, Edward Waters College remains committed to its mission of educational access in conjunction with uninterrupted academic programming and institutional servicing,” said EWC’s 30th President and CEO, A. Zachary Faison, Jr., who took to Facebook Live on Friday afternoon to make several announcements. “This commitment has forced us to push ourselves to think outside of the box and go above and beyond in response to the rapidly changing environment.”

EWC is launching its first ever Tiger laptop on loan program. The school has secured 700 brand new laptops that it will make available to students who need access to a computer.

“Though it's late in the semester, students will at least have the ability to have a laptop shipped and received to their homes in time for the final examination period,” said Faison.

Students can ensure their access to a laptop in the fall by completing the virtual registration for the summer and fall 2020 semester. To make sure they get a laptop by May 1, students have to complete the online form on the new student resource assistance portal (SRAP) on the EWC website, which is scheduled to go live on Monday, April 20.

Students will be responsible for returning the laptops to EWC by mail or in person. Students who have registered for summer 2020 courses or checked in for the fall 2020 semester will be reissued the laptop once they return. Laptops will be dispersed to returning students as part of the check in process.

For students who aren’t registered for summer school, laptops must be returned and received in the same condition by Friday, May 29. Students that don’t return laptops, or return them damaged, may have to pay a replacement fee.

All participating students will be required to have a completed 2020-2021 FAFSA on file with the exception of graduating seniors who still qualify.

Unlike many colleges and universities, EWC allowed its students to remain in on-campus housing.

Students who voluntarily vacated their housing due to the COVID-19 outbreak will now be given a partial credit for room and board charges to cover the dates of March 23 through May 8.

“However, if you are a student who continued to reside on campus this spring, as well as if you received institutional aid that covered the entire cost of room and board, you will not be eligible to receive this fall 2020 credit. Students with institutional aid that partially covered room and board or who did not receive any aid to cover the cost of room and board will be eligible to receive an apportioned credit applicable to their fall 2020 room and board charges,” Faison explained.

To qualify for this credit, students must have a completed 2020-2021 FAFSA, except for graduating seniors.

For seniors who have applied for graduation, these credits will be applied to any outstanding balance. If they have no balance they will be issued a refund.

Additionally, students are being given the option of a pass/fail grade on each of their courses.

“We call it the flexible grading option,” Faison said. “This option is available for all students who may want credit for courses, but not the impact of the grade on their semester or cumulative GPA.”

Faison also announced Friday that EWC has been granted access to more than $650,000 in student emergency aid through the CARES Act. While that funding is not yet available to the college, Faison said students who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 will be eligible to receive up to $6,000 for education and personal needs.

“Students with a balance can use this funding to clear past due balances as well as access additional emergency aid such as medical, housing, childcare, transportation, food, and other student needs,” Faison said.

The funding will be given out on a first come, first serve basis. To access these funds students must have a 2020-2021 FAFSA on file, they must be financially cleared, and they must be registered for the spring 2020 semester as well as summer and/or fall.

Funds will be dispersed to students as they become available to the college.

“We are hopeful and working to return to normal face-to-face operations in August of 2020,” said Faison. “However, we’re also being proactive in preparation for the potential continued use of the virtual space. As such, we are currently evaluating our online learning management and other information technology systems to ensure a heightened academic and student engagement experience in case of the continued use of the virtual living and learning platforms.”

He went on to say, “This evaluation and subsequent upgrade to our system will facilitate the opportunity to launch our first ever self-sustaining online degree program sometime in the 2020-2021 academic year.” 

EWC has not yet made a decision on commencement, though it will begin emailing surveys asking seniors for input starting next week.

Three of the four planned Tiger Landing buildings are scheduled to be completed and open in time for school in August of 2020, with the fourth scheduled to be opened by the end of the fall 2020 semester.

The EWC stadium and community field is tentatively scheduled for completion on or before September 2020, just in time for the college’s first ever on-campus home football game on September 19.

Details on all of these announcements, and more information on the school’s response to coronavirus, will be available on the new SRAP page.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.