Skyline community reacts to SMCCCD extending distance learning

The district’s extension will last through fall of 2021


John Harrison

Skyline College joins the other two SMCCCD schools in being mostly closed through Fall of 2021.

In the wake of the San Mateo Community College District announcing the extension of distance learning through the fall 2021 semester, the Skyline College community has mixed feelings about the decision.

Just a few weeks ago, the district announced that its three colleges — Skyline College, the College of San Mateo, and Cañada College — would continue most classes online, with exceptions for classes in healthcare, emergency services, transportation, and essential STEM labs. The district is also continuing to provide essential services to students, such as their Drive-Up Wi-Fi and free food distribution, and the colleges are loaning equipment like computers to students.

Some in the Skyline community agree that the continuance of distance learning is necessary. Skyline student Christian Martin Tabbada described what his reaction was upon having gotten word of the decision.

“I was honestly not surprised,” Tabbada said. “Even though we have vaccines rolling out, it’s still kind of a risk to have a lot of students on campus.”

Additionally, others, such as Skyline oceanography professor Malori Redman, are worried about the effects that going back to campus would have on the classes.

“Guidelines put in place would slash my class sizes tremendously,” Redman said. “Additionally, with the new strains emerging, it seems better to do the safe thing.”

The infection rate of COVID-19 in San Mateo County has dropped dramatically within the past few weeks, with the rate currently being just above 20 new cases per day. Sending so many adult students back to school would have the potential to result in some of that progress being undone.

However, there are many criticisms of virtual schooling coming from the community as well. Professor Redman described how, while she works hard to make her class engaging, many professors are failing to make sure their classes are engaging over Zoom.

“I know of many tenured faculty that are making their classes miserable,” Redman said.

Additionally, many students miss the interpersonal relationships of in-person classes. Many students find that relationships with other students can provide support, and bonding with professors can make them more invested in the class. Tabbada said that the aspect of in-person learning that he misses most is interacting with other people, particularly because it keeps him from getting distracted.

Hopefully, by playing it safe for the rest of 2021, SMCCCD can come back in full stride for the spring 2022 semester.