In response to a variety of challenges faced by employees and students amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has announced new initiatives aimed at providing critical assistance to members of the college community in a time of need.

“Over the past few weeks, you have collectively stepped up and risen to the unprecedented challenge caused by COVID-19. As a result, the college is better prepared to continue our services for students, employees, and our communities at-large,” said MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang in a message to college employees. “As the crisis intensifies, so does our fear and anxiety. Now is the time to take care of one another and make sure no one is left behind in this very difficult time.”

Wang told employees that MCCC “is in a very strong financial position” and continued that “there is no possibility of a reduction in workforce due to COVID-19.” Even so, she said, the college recognizes that unique circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in personal hardships among members of the MCCC college community.

To assist employees whose households have taken a financial hit in the wake of the COVID-19 health emergency, MCCC will immediately launch a Voluntary Full-Time Employee Assistance Program for employees with an annual base salary of no more than $60,000. The college will offer a $1,000 salary advance, with six months to repay the college through payroll deductions, beginning in May.

In addition, programs have been launched to assist students who, through the loss of a part-time job or the lack of financial resources, have been particularly challenged by the COVID-19 crisis. The college is in the process of launching the Student Food Assistance Program, which will provide gift cards to area grocery stores for food-insecure students. And through a partnership with United Way of Mercer County and TDI (formerly Trenton Digital Initiative), the college is distributing free refurbished computers to students in financial need.

“Food insecurity is real, the technology gap is real, and both are magnified by the current crisis,” Wang said. “We have the ability to help bridge those gaps, and together we can emerge from this crisis even stronger than before.”

Following the conclusion of MCCC’s spring break on March 23, all face-to-face classes were moved to remote platforms for the remainder of the semester. On March 13 the college moved all administrative operations to remote platforms, with employees delivering services to students, faculty, staff, and general public from home. Remote delivery of those services will continue through the end of the spring semester as well.

Wang credits advance planning, ongoing communications, and a dedicated faculty and staff in preparing for the COVID-19 crisis. That, she said, has made all the difference.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and that is exactly what is required from each and every one of us as we join forces to combat the public health threat posed by COVID-19,” Wang said.