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Dr. David Viar, president of GCC, announced via email the college’s decision to continue conducting credit and noncredit classes remotely throughout the 2021 summer and fall semesters.
As vaccination efforts steadily increase across the country, Viar cautioned that a lot of planning remains before in-person classes can safely resume. He said the administration is prioritizing the health and well-being of students and faculty, along with determining which course offerings most need to be taught in-person.
Reopening a campus with more than 15,000 students and staff can only begin once Los Angeles County has entered Stage 3, which allows for the gradual reopening of high-risk environments, and requires following criteria set by the CCC Safe Campus Reopening Workgroup and the LA County Public Health Department. Requirements include adapting office and workspaces to be socially distanced as well as implementing a physical distancing plan for each course, including provisions for enhanced cleaning, symptom checks for students and faculty, and development of specialized plans for students at increased risk.
The email clarifies that, despite online-only instruction, the college is optimizing course schedules and publicizing course offerings to allow students more flexibility to complete the classes they need.
Viar’s email mentioned a study of GCC students conducted near the end of this past fall semester, which found that a majority of students reported successfully adapting to online instruction and reported doing well to very well in the remote learning environment. He said the overwhelmingly positive reactions underscore the administration’s success in transitioning instruction and services online since the spring 2020 semester and signals a promising trend in the upcoming months.
However, about 17 percent of students reported doing not well, and 4 percent stated remote instruction was working very badly for them. Those experiencing difficulties are directed to the remote-instruction resource page on the college website for helpful links and guides. In addition, the college provides resources such as Internet-connected devices and Wi-Fi hotspots through an online application with the college library. Other course-specific materials can be requested through the instructor.
The December survey also showed a high percentage of both credit and noncredit students, 42.8 percent and 33.3 percent, respectively, feeling higher-than-usual levels of anxiety, stress, depression and/or other mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Viar emphasized that personal assistance is available through the Health Center and confidential mental health counseling. Academic counselors are also available online and by phone to assist students with coursework and educational planning.
“Our GCC faculty and staff have done a remarkable job creating an engaging curriculum for your remote instruction and student services that meet your needs,” Viar told students. “By committing to remote instruction now, we can focus on making your GCC educational experience successful and work to implement the innovative strategies that will help you to reach your educational goals in a vibrant and challenging environment.”
Victoria Bochniak can be reached at [email protected]