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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Recent school closures due to air quality left some students scrambling to keep up before finals


City College students walked to and from classes Nov. 13 despite the unhealthy air quality resulting from Butte County’s Camp Fire. All campuses in the Los Rios Community College District remain closed through Nov. 25. Phoenix Kanada | Photo Editor | [email protected]

Recent school closures due to air quality left some students scrambling to keep up before finals


The recent Camp Fire in Butte County—which Cal Fire has now declared the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history—brought unhealthy levels of air to the Sacramento Valley. The air quality warnings prompted many schools, including all colleges in the Los Rios district, work sites and buildings to close temporarily and people were advised to stay indoors.

Amanda Hoang, a early childhood development major at City College, said that her professors had sent emails notifying students that assignments were still due even though classes were canceled Nov. 14–25.

Once classes resumed Nov. 26, a professor told Hoang and her class that all tests and classwork were to be turned in, but because most of the class thought otherwise they were now two weeks behind on assignments.

“Now I have two weeks of past assignments to catch up on,” Hoang said. “My English professor told us to ‘drop in’ our assignments.’ We were all confused. She said, ‘These were due last week,’ but there was no class the week prior. The professor gave us a lecture about how we ‘need to be more responsible and aware.’”

Albert Garcia, vice president of instruction at City College, said he encouraged professors to be considerate toward their students, while also acknowledging that professors have a certain amount of material that must be covered for their classes.

“That’s going to mean something different for every instructor,” said Garcia. “In my communication with them I’ve urged them to be as understanding as possible, given the fact that students couldn’t turn in homework assignments or due tests while the school was closed.”

Garcia also said now that finals are coming up, that message applied for the rest of the semester. Adjustments would need to be made in professors’ schedules and assignments to accommodate students.

“That is certainly not easy for an instructor to do, but, on the other hand, we need to look out for the interest of our students and make that a priority,” Garcia said. “I don’t want it to be unfair to students.”

Biology major Isabel Whitney-Patton said she was upset that the school took so long to cancel classes after Sac State and UC Davis were quick to do so as local air quality reached hazardous levels.

“I’m definitely relieved classes were canceled because I walk to school,” Whitney-Patton said. “So I had a huge panic, like my lungs were going to collapse from the smoke.”

Whitney-Patton said that it was difficult for her to come back to school since everything has now been “condensed” for finals and, other than making finals a bit shorter, she felt her professors were not making things easier.
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Garcia said that the decision to cancel classes was made by the Los Rios district, and circumstances varied among the colleges.

“For instance, at Folsom Lake College there’s a bit of higher elevation. The air conditions are different there from the ones here in Sacramento,” Garcia said. “The district was looking at all four colleges together in the context of the air conditions we were having overall. It would be easy to argue that we waited too long or that we stayed closed too long.”

Max Chan, a computer science major, had a different experience. After attending his classes Nov. 14, he received the RAVE alert text and email from City College about the cancelation of classes. He was surprised about the decision and didn’t know what he would do with his free time. Chan said he had homework that was due but decided to wait to do any work until he received an email from his professors.

“Assignments were due, but we were notified that professors can’t make assignments due on days that school is canceled,” Chan said.

Chan said his communications professor canceled the semester final, which made his 12-unit load a bit easier as his trigonometry final will include missed material from the days class was canceled.

Allied health major Tanya Stanberry said she was glad that classes were canceled because she was in class the hour before she received the alert.

”I live in the foothills, so it’s easier to breathe at home,” Stanberry said. “But I was worried about getting all my work done.”

Two of Stanberry’s professors were good, she said, about updating Stanberry and her classmates about how the cancelation would affect their classwork. Only one of her professors didn’t clarify what would happen with an exam that was scheduled on the Monday classes were back in session.

“We came back to class, the professor did end up postponing the exam, but since we didn’t know, we still studied for the test,” said Stanberry. “Two professors emailed over the break for us to be calm about finals as they were going to work with us.”

Garcia encourages students to first talk to their instructors if students are feeling uncomfortable moving in to finals, it will be different for every class.

“Work with your professors,” Garcia said. “We have a whole lot of very caring and understanding instructors who completely get what we just experienced was unprecedented.”



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