College Grapples With COVID-19 Realities

Classes are canceled through Saturday; online instruction to resume March 23

Shoppers are faced with bare shelves amid coronavirus outbreak at Whole Foods Market in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday.

News of COVID-19 is rapidly changing and evolving, leaving GCC students and people across the nation in a state of confusion. In an announcement made via email on Monday, March 16 by David Viar, president of GCC, students were informed that cancelled classes will begin again on Monday, March 23. All classes will be held online, a change from the previous week’s announcement that hands-on labs, performance classes, physical education/kinesiology would still meet in-person. 

Online learning is the best way to ensure that people practice social distancing,but for students looking to transfer out of GCC, there are required courses that must be taken in a face-to-face learning environment for certain universities. USC, for example, requires foreign languages, the life sciences, and physical sciences  courses for transfer with their planning guide stating, “Online or hybrid labs are not acceptable.”

El Vaquero reached out to USC’s Office of Admission and spoke with Yvonne Hays, assistant director of undergraduate admission, who explained that accommodations would have to be made due to the current realities. “We don’t have the specifics worked out yet, but students will not be penalized or disadvantaged because of the movement to online classes,” Hays said in an interview. Officials at most colleges and universities are trying their best to accommodate students and make this transition as smooth as possible, administrators explained. 

This decision by GCC comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference Sunday afternoon urging “non-essential” businesses to close. Newsom was specifically referring to bars, nightclubs, wineries and brewpubs. Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti rolled out stricter restrictions for residents just hours after the Governor with an executive order for restaurants, entertainment venues, and gyms to close until March 31.

The announcements from the governor and L.A.’s mayor  came just two days before St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, which is well known for social gathering, consuming alcohol, and a profitable holiday for bars and nightclubs. The timing may be coincidental, but the forced closure is showing just how important it is to social distance.

For GCC students who work at any one of these affected establishments, anxiety about income is at an all time high, El Vaquero has learned through interviews with students. 

People who are affected by reduced work hours are able to file an “Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim” through On their website they state that this claim is if “your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19.” Benefits can be applied for other reasons, such as having to miss work because you have to care for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, or if you’re a parent with a child who must stay home from school causing you to miss work.

GCC’s Food Pantry also announced a closure on March 17, providing alternative resources in an email to students and staff. Other affected programming include any and all club events, any face-to-face courses, and any and all activity on campus. It is unclear, at this time, if the college’s graduation ceremony will be affected, as the situation remains fluid.

Natalie Casey can be reached at [email protected]