As community college students and faculty prepare to return to school for the fall term, many may wonder what COVID-19 health and safety measures will be implemented.
The answer, for the most part, will depend on the individual campuses. With 116 community colleges statewide, including more than 20 in Los Angeles County, many details will be determined by individual college districts.
For example, while the University of California and California State University require staff and students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus on campus, the California community college system leaves that decision to local college districts.
This is because the CCC chancellor’s office does not have the legal authority to require everyone in the system to get vaccinated. CCC officials, however, are encouraging local districts to mandate vaccinations, with exemptions based on medical or religious reasons.
âThe sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can all start doing the things we love on and off campus again,â said Pamela Haynes, Chair of the CCC Board of Governors. âWe all play a major role in the security of California. “
Will my school require vaccinations?
It remains to be seen whether the presence of the most contagious delta variant, the UC and CSU mandates, or the state’s orders this week that all health workers be vaccinated – and a similar order from the chair of the watchdog board. County of LA, Hilda Solis, whom all county employees get vaccinated – will impact how community colleges deal with the issue of a vaccination warrant.
Responses have varied so far.
The Los Angeles Community College District, which is made up of nine schools – East LA, City, Harbor, Mission, Pierce, Southwest, Trade-Tech, Valley, and West LA colleges – will require everyone to provide proof of vaccination or submit. to regular tests. to access “any building, classroom, library, gymnasium, facility or other interior setting in the district,” voted the district board of directors this week.
Likewise, Long Beach City College will require students and staff to prove they are vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis, a college representative said.
A similar policy exists at Pasadena City College, although unvaccinated students may come to campus in limited circumstances, such as to retrieve a loaned laptop or hotspot or to complete a quick transaction in student services or the hospital. library. When visiting, they should follow campus guidelines, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, symptom screening, or a quick COVID-19 test.
Some schools do not require proof of vaccination.
âCurrently, El Camino College does not require proof of vaccination status. We have, however, set up screening kiosks at key campus entry points for students, staff and visitors to provide daily health checks, âwrote Ann O’Brien, spokesperson for the college based. to Torrance, in an email.
Without mandating vaccines, some schools have looked for ways to encourage students to get vaccinated.
Schools in the LA Community College district will host vaccination sites where vaccinated students can receive up to $ 150, said William Boyer, district spokesperson. Many will also offer food gift cards, bookstore credits and other incentives to encourage students to get vaccinated, he said.
Likewise, Long Beach City College students who get vaccinated between August 2 and August 30 will be eligible to receive a $ 300 voucher at campus bookstores.
What about masking?
The LA County Health Department requires that everyone, regardless of their immunization status, wear masks indoors in public places, although accommodations may be made for those with a medical condition or condition. another exemption.
As for the exterior? Many community college districts do not require masking outside on school grounds, although they recommend it, especially for unvaccinated people and in large crowds.
Many, if not all, campuses also require daily health exams, where students and staff answer questions online, on an app, or at a school kiosk to gain admission to campus.
How many classes will be in person?
The distribution of classes that will be in person will vary by school.
For example, 20% of the classes at Rio Hondo College in Whittier – namely the Police, Fire, Nursing, and Automotive Technology classes, will be in person, which is roughly the same rate as El Camino. College, according to college representatives. .
âWe have taken a measured approach to returning to teaching in-person, knowing that not all students are comfortable returning to class on campus,â said O’Brien, of El Camino College. âHowever, we know that not all students learn and thrive in an online environment. As a result, approximately 20 percent of the courses will be offered in person this fall. “
At Long Beach City College, about 30% of classes will be taught in person, said Marlene Drinkwine, vice president of business services at the college.
“Essential labs on campus, like nursing or business schools, will continue to be very different from those before COVID – social distance classes, classrooms at 50% capacity, and metrics sanitation in every room, âshe said.
At Cerritos College, Norwalk, half of the courses in each department will be delivered in a hybrid format, meaning that the courses will be a combination of in-person and online instruction. On-site classes will generally be limited to 50% of capacity or 200 students (whichever is less).
Pasadena City College, meanwhile, plans to hold about three-quarters of its classes in person. The remaining 25% will be online, according to Alex Boekelheide, special assistant to the superintendent / president.
How do colleges support students?
Many students dropped out of community college during the pandemic due to hardships including loss of income and family responsibilities.
Statewide, community college enrollment was down 12% in fall 2020 from fall 2019, according to Rafael ChÃ¡vez, spokesperson for the CCC chancellor’s office. A CCC survey found that 41% of students saw their working hours cut, were made redundant or put on leave during the pandemic. About 57% also face some form of basic needs insecurity, such as food or housing insecurity, he said.
Rio Hondo College Superintendent / President Teresa Dreyfuss described in an email how her school is supporting students during this unprecedented time.
âWe are providing learning tools for low socioeconomic status students and students of color with Chromebooks, laptops, computer software and access points,â she said. âWith regard to basic needs, we have a pantry on campus, a take-out food distribution (and we) provide resources for shelter for homeless students, counseling services for mental health, tutoring and study spaces. “
Other campuses offer similar support services. Students should check with their schools for specific services offered.
ChÃ¡vez noted that while the pandemic has disrupted the lives of students and made it difficult for many to continue their education, the California community college system – which typically serves 2.1 million students per year and is the largest system higher education in the country – working hard to recover students. on the right track.
âColleges are focused on retaining existing students and re-engaging students who quitâ¦ or didn’t enroll in the first place,â he said.
Many of our students are parents as well, so resuming face-to-face teaching in K-12 schools should allow them to re-engage in their college plans, âhe continued. âRetaining and attracting more students will be vital to California’s economic recovery and long-term well-being. “
Editors Hunter Lee and David Rosenfeld contributed to this report.