Mt. SAC Town Hall Discusses On-Campus Classes in Fall

A town hall held by the college’s officials went over the likelihood of the college reopening in fall in relation to the progression of COVID-19

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Photo by Geographer on Wikimedia Commons. License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/legalcode.

Mt. SAC held a virtual town hall on May 20, where college officials discussed the possibility of the school holding classes in-person again in the fall 2020 semester.

The state of California is progressing in its reopening by stages. Although most of California has gone into stage two of the phases, which allows for lower-risk places such as retail businesses for curbside pick-up, childcare facilities and schools to open, Los Angeles County is operating on its own set of phases.

As of now, L.A County has allowed some non-essential businesses like florists and car dealerships to open back up. According to Mt. SAC President William Scroggins, the county may progress into stage two by July 4.

Richard Mahon, Mt. SAC Vice President of Instruction, said that the L.A Department of Public Health anticipates the county moving to stage three in late summer. Colleges and universities would reopen in stage three of L.A County’s guidelines.

Despite this, Mt. SAC’s fall semester begins in late August, which may not coincide with the department’s timeline. The college is still in discussion of whether or not they can offer in-person courses in fall as a result.

“We anticipate that in late July, we will need to decide whether we can offer any on-campus courses,” Mahon said, according to the town hall’s transcript. “And if we were inclined towards gambling, which most of us are not, we think the signs are not very propitious for being able to offer classes on campus in the fall.”

Moreover, when asked if the college would switch from online to in-person instruction in the middle of the semester should the situation improve by then, Mahon said, “The answer to that is almost certainly no. It would be incredibly challenging.”

Scroggins also said that the college would maintain protocols such as social distancing and hygiene if it were to open again, and that they are “creating a second level of custodial qualifications” for deep-cleaning in classrooms.

He added that they have not yet made decisions regarding the fall schedule of classes.

Scroggins also stated that the college is supporting having certain programs come back as soon as possible as they receive guidance. These programs are generally ones that train students for career certification and are more difficult to put in an online format, such as the programs for paramedics, nursing, fire academy, first responders, respiratory therapy and radiological technology.

However, Scroggins added that nursing students will be returning to clinical sites next week, and respiratory therapy students will also return to their sites afterwards. The nursing program may not reopen to admit new applicants in the fall, though.

“As we think about how to balance hope and patience, I’m afraid that students hoping to get into the nursing program are going to need a little bit more patience than students who are already in those health science programs,” Mahon said. According to Mahon, the college will prioritize students in health programs who are already working towards completion, and they will reopen admissions as they gradually receive clearance from authorities.

Vice President of Student Services Audrey Yamagata-Noji announced that the college has been providing emergency grants to students from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security CARES Act, which was announced prior at a Mt. SAC Board of Trustees meeting. She added that these grants ranged from $400 to $900.

Additionally, Yamagata-Noji said that the college has been reaching out to students who have “vanished” by having faculty send them notices of said students. According to her, almost 2,400 students were marked as such, and the college contacted them through email and by phone to follow up.

To watch the full town hall, which was posted on Youtube on May 22, click here.