California Community Colleges Chancellor Confirms Classes Will Remain Online in Spring 2021

Oakley said that they expect to feel impacts of the pandemic until 2024

Photo+of+Chancellor+Eloy+Ortiz+Oakley+from+public+teleconference+on+Sept.+24.

Photo of Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley from public teleconference on Sept. 24.

On Thursday, the California Community Colleges held a virtual conference with Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley to talk about the community college’s reopening plan for the foreseeable future.
During the conference, Oakley confirmed that more than likely every college will continue online learning through the spring 2021 semester. He said that that the Chancellor’s office wants to give students and families as much certainty as possible amid the pandemic.
Chancellor Oakley said that we should expect to see the impacts of COVID through 2024, based on what was said by the vice president of the health centers during a recent University of California Board of Regents meeting.
“In reality by the time that we have a vaccine distributed and have enough immunity in communities to really stem infection rates, it will be several years, “ Chancellor Oakley said. Though he doesn’t expect campuses to be shut down until 2024, they should plan for an extended period of time to physical distance.
Until more is known about the long-term effects from the virus, classes will continue online so that students, whether they feel uncomfortable in a class setting or they have underlying health conditions, have the opportunity to receive an education from home.
“The contingency plan in my mind is a plan of reality, that is, embrace the situation that we’re in. Find ways to leverage technology, support our faculty to professional development, and put the health and safety of our students front and center,” Oakley said.
California community colleges received an increase in enrollment during the summer due to students catching up on classes that were dropped during the spring at the start of the pandemic, but fall enrollment has dropped between five and seven percent. The Chancellor’s office launched a campaign to encourage students to remain enrolled in their courses.
“It’s so critical to the future of our students that they stay enrolled because so many of the jobs that have been lost may not be coming back. And many of the jobs being created require some sort of college credential,” he said.
However, when asked about colleges that will not be offering classes needed to graduate due to social distancing requirements, Oakley said his office is going through a series of emergency orders to make it easier for colleges to offer courses online, to give flexibility in grading, and ensure they don’t lose any funding due to challenges in enrollment; though it has been difficult for certain programs to design their courses in a way to meet certification requirements.
“I’m confident that students, not being able to get the classes they need either this semester or in the spring will be a small exception. Hopefully colleges will be able to schedule those courses as quickly as possible so that our students can finish their courses of study,” He said. “Colleges are not going to lose funding because of declining enrollment. We do not expect that any full time faculty would lose their job, but part time faculty may experience a reduction in load because there may be less classes per faculty member.”
As for community college sports, Chancellor Oakley said that while there will be no athletic events in the fall, the plan is to revisit athletics in the spring, with an emphasis on sports programs that have limited contact like golf or tennis.
The chancellor also encouraged students to vote in the spring and expressed his support for proposition 16, which would remove the ban on Affirmative Action, and said, “we want to ensure that we can do everything possible to support every student from every background and ensure that the faculty and staff you see in the classroom represent the diversity you bring to the classroom.”
The next student teleconference is scheduled to take place in December.