This story was updated on May 13 to include more community colleges that will primarily offer fall classes online.

An increasing number of California community colleges plan to offer all fall classes online to protect students and staff from the coronavirus. The nine colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District, Santa Monica College, Sierra College, College of the Desert and Santa Rosa Junior College, announced this week most classes will be offered remotely in the fall.

Meanwhile, officials at UCLA plan to give students the option of how they want to attend their fall 2020 classes.

“The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and maintaining the quality of our teaching and learning programs are of utmost importance for the college,” said Joel Kinnamon, president of College of the Desert, which has about 10,000 undergraduates in Palm Desert. “With an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the college’s service area, combined with the lack of a vaccine and the possibility of a second wave of infections, we felt this was the most prudent path.”

The announcements foreshadow the decisions that other California colleges may end up making, including the state’s 111 other community colleges. (Calbright College is the state’s only online-only community college.) The four colleges in the Sacramento area’s Los Rios Community College District, the San Diego Community College District, the Peralta Community College District and Shasta College in Redding have all joined an increasing number of community colleges to announce fall classes will be offered primarily online.

Many colleges and universities across the country are considering how they will offer classes for the fall academic term, either in-person, virtually or a mix of the two. But only a handful of institutions have decided what they will do, despite growing anxiety from students and families over how these decisions will affect them.

“At a minimum, since we know it might not be possible for some students to safely travel to campus, we plan to offer the option of remote learning at least for fall quarter, even if some classes are held in person,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Emily Carter, an executive vice chancellor and provost to the university, in a message to students.

One thing the UCLA campus can’t guarantee is housing for students this fall because of the need for safety precautions need to keep students safe from the virus. Because of the pandemic and national travel restrictions, university officials don’t know how many students will be able to live in apartments or dorms this fall.

“In normal times, UCLA is able to offer housing to a majority of incoming and returning students,” according to the message. “At this point, it is unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our operations in student housing and residential life during the 2020-21 academic year and therefore we are unfortunately unable to provide a housing guarantee.”

Officials at Sierra College, in the Sacramento area, tweeted that they wanted to give students as much advance notice as possible, and so decided fall classes would be online-only.

“Making this decision early allows us to better prepare for online learning and gives staff more time to prepare for this format,” according to the college, which has about 16,000 students enrolled. “With the potential for a resurgence of the virus in the fall, students will not have to worry about making an abrupt transition to remote learning.”

However, some classes can’t happen in an online-only setting. Sierra College officials said they will continue looking for alternatives, such as a mix of virtual and in-person classes, to help students complete their courses.

“We understand this situation is not ideal for anyone,” the tweets continued. “But we hope by making this decision early we can prepare better for the fall semester and continue to help our students complete their educational goals as best we can.”

Francisco Rodriguez, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, said they’ve been working to find flexible solutions for classes that require labs, clinical experience or other hands-on requirements.

“We ask for your patience and support as we work through these issues,” he said, in a message to students about offering most fall classes online.

Santa Monica College, which has about 26,000 students, decided earlier this week that its nearly 3,000 classes would be offered remotely this fall starting Aug. 31.

The decision to continue online-only instruction through this fall was based on two factors. Santa Monica officials don’t think a COVID-19 vaccine will be available until 2021 and it would be “nearly impossible” for the campus, which is described as “open-access,” to monitor and identify the differences between people who have the coronavirus and those who have the typical flu. The college will also examine where to offer hybrid courses for those classes that can’t move online.

Until they’re able to safely reopen the Santa Monica campus for in-person classes and services, students can continue to access mental and physical health counseling online. The campus will continue its Chromebook laptop lending program, which has given more than 200 students the technology they need to access classes online, and access to the school’s drive-thru pop-up food pantry will continue, said Kathryn Jeffery, Santa Monica’s president, in an email to students.

Jeffery said faculty members and counselors would continue building their skills to help students pursue their academic experience remotely.

“Your instructors and counselors are learning new skills, software and tools so that they can give you the best possible academic experience,” she said.

Santa Rosa Junior College President Frank Chong Thursday issued a statement saying that the college would offer its fall classes online.

“There may be some courses that require in-person instruction, such as those that require hands-on labs and those offered at the Public Safety Training Center.” Chong said.  “Where possible, we will work alongside faculty and staff in these areas to offer in-person instruction” utilizing the college’s social distancing protocols.

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  1. sadeka 3 months ago3 months ago

    As there is a 2nd spike in Covid-19, all California colleges should teach online for health safety reason. As a parent, I think that it is just too risky for a student to live in dorms, until vaccine is available sometime in 2021.

  2. Donna 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have a son who attends a UC school. Suspect that it will be online for the fall. He is planning to take the year away from school. Online classes are not "attending college." There is no interaction, discussion with faculty, or being part of a community. In the City of Berkeley, there has been 1 COVID-19 death (one!). Berkeley announced none of their fees will change including recreation … Read More

    I have a son who attends a UC school. Suspect that it will be online for the fall. He is planning to take the year away from school. Online classes are not “attending college.” There is no interaction, discussion with faculty, or being part of a community. In the City of Berkeley, there has been 1 COVID-19 death (one!).

    Berkeley announced none of their fees will change including recreation fee (rec center closed), student fees (for clubs and activities that will not be happening), health fees (even if you are away from campus), and tuition will be unchanged. What a rip off!

  3. VINCENT MUNCH 5 months ago5 months ago

    I hope by the Fall institutions are better prepared to support students missing devices to carry out their onlne classes.

  4. Noeasyanswers 5 months ago5 months ago

    What will be interesting is when the colleges who choose to go online try to insist on full tuition. Let the lawsuits begin! No one is going to want to pay full tuition for online classes. Tuition is simply far, far too expensive these days. Online was a stop-gap measure in an emergency during spring quarter, but it is in no way a long-term solution. Prior to the pandemic, universities that … Read More

    What will be interesting is when the colleges who choose to go online try to insist on full tuition. Let the lawsuits begin!

    No one is going to want to pay full tuition for online classes. Tuition is simply far, far too expensive these days. Online was a stop-gap measure in an emergency during spring quarter, but it is in no way a long-term solution.

    Prior to the pandemic, universities that offered online courses in tandem with live courses charged a fraction of the price for the online option, recognizing that the primary value of a college education comes from the “college experience.” Universities today are so filled with hubris and a dissociation from practicality (ie. idealism) that I would not be surprised if they attempt to charge full tuition “because you’re still getting a degree from ____.” Unless students are offered the option of taking a leave of absence for a year, the fall out is going to be nasty.

    Replies

    • Well actually 5 months ago5 months ago

      Doubt it. These students demanding cheaper tuition can easily be replaced by international students able to pay full price tuition and fees.

      • elizabeth venturini 4 months ago4 months ago

        I work with international students from China. Right now the biggest problem for them is not being able to obtain a visa to come to the US. They will probably have to forfeit coming to the US. Schools can no longer depend on international students to subsidize their shortfall.

  5. Ronn Edmundson 5 months ago5 months ago

    Given the pandemic, all California colleges should teach online except those courses that require labs and other medical protocols.