The San Mateo Community College District announced Friday that the board of trustees have voted to extend distance learning for the summer and fall of 2021, with limited on-campus instruction due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While mostly online activities will take place, the accepted in-person learning will remain possible for students studying in the healthcare, emergency services, and transportation fields. These groups will continue to train as first responders and healthcare professionals due to the urgent need in their respective communities due to the COVID-19 virus.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said SMCCCD Chancellor Michael Claire, who was named to the position when the pandemic was surging in April of 2020.
The district is set to follow California’s requirements for COVID by enforcing social distancing, practicing proper classroom/lab sanitization, and keeping a low number of people on campus at once.
“Even though we all want to get back to our beautiful college campuses, we will do so in a thoughtful and deliberate way,” Claire said. “We are optimistic that as vaccines become more widely distributed in the summer and fall we will be able to restore more in-person classes and services to students next year.”
In addition, the district has acquired $13.3 million in federal Higher Emergency Education Relief. The district says that roughly two-thirds of the amount (around $8,860,000) will be used to assist students who struggle financially. The rest (around $4,433,333) will be utilized to offset expenses caused by COVID, like technology, health and safety material, and training.
“Distance learning is good in some aspects but it just gets really frustrating when I encounter technology issues and having to submit all of my work online as opposed to simply turning papers in person,” said Jovani Magana, a student at College of San Mateo. “Having to rely on technology for basically everything is very time consuming especially when spending the entire day looking at a computer screen.”
The updated decision will affect all three colleges in the district ––– Skyline in San Bruno, College of San Mateo, and Cañada College in Redwood City.
“But in the end, if this is what must be done to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure we fully recover from this pandemic as fast as possible, then I am alright with it,” Magana said.