All of California’s 114 community colleges have decided to suspend many of their in-person classes as part of an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Plans vary by college, with some moving all of their courses to remote instruction and others moving just lecture courses online. A few colleges are not moving in-person classes online but are instead canceling those classes completely for the time being.
All public four-year universities in California have also suspended in-person classes.
The decision to suspend in-person classes is left up to each college. The California community college system’s chancellor, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, said during a Board of Governors meeting earlier this week that he would not force colleges to close or move instruction to remote settings, though he did warn that colleges’ operations would likely be disrupted until at least June.
The California community college system is the largest system of higher education in the United States. It enrolls more than 2 million students who are now taking most of their classes online.
Some colleges were early in deciding to move classes online, including the nine colleges that make up the Los Angeles Community College District, which announced on March 11 that its colleges would transition to online instruction for most classes.
Other colleges waited until this week to suspend in-person classes. One of those colleges, Mendocino College, on the coast of Northern California, announced Wednesday afternoon that it would transition all courses “to an online or remote platform” by Friday.
“We are now expecting for the current situation to last through the end of the Spring semester,” the college said.
Some colleges will still allow face-to-face instruction to continue in certain cases.
At Lassen College, in the northeast corner of the state, some lecture courses were being moved online starting Wednesday and the rest of lecture classes will be moved online by March 25, said Julie Johnston, the college’s public information officer. But lab classes as well as career and technical education classes, such as nursing and welding, will continue to meet in person.
Other colleges plan to transition to remote learning but won’t do so for several weeks.
MiraCosta College in San Diego County is on spring break this week and will hold no classes during the week of March 23-27. That time will be instead used for faculty to transition their classes to remote instruction, which will begin on March 30.
Allan Hancock College in Santa Barbara County is also on spring break this week and has decided to extend its spring break for an extra week. When classes resume March 30, they will be held online when possible. Other classes will continue to meet in person, but the college says it will incorporate social distancing into those courses.
Meanwhile, at least five community colleges are canceling classes completely for the next few weeks rather than moving them to remote settings.
That includes all four colleges that make up the Peralta Community College District: Berkeley City College, the College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College. The district is currently on spring break, but after it returns from break on March 23, all classes will be canceled through April 6.
“The health and safety of members of the Peralta community remains our top priority. Peralta Community College District will continue to follow the guidelines and best practices for institutions of higher education as recommended by the Alameda County Public Health Department, the California Department of Public Health, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the district said in an announcement.
Another college, Butte College, plans to cancel in-person classes for a shorter period. The college is on spring break this week and has canceled in-person classes for the first two days after spring break, March 23 and March 24. It currently plans to resume those classes on March 25, though that timeline may change.