The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Cosmetology classes at City College are thriving online

“The students listen more. They’re not in class with distractions,” said Dean of cosmetology Donetta Webb {Infographic created by James Fife/[email protected])

In March, as news of the campus closures spread throughout Los Rios colleges, the faculty and staff of the cosmetology department was given two hours to pack up their offices and leave campus. As they departed, students had to leave their supplies and equipment inside the lab rooms.

Donetta Webb, dean of cosmetology, knew that the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology had never allowed cosmetology to be taught online. So she and other members of the department wondered what the next few months would look like for the program, which has been preparing students for professions as cosmetologists since the 1940s. 

With that experience in the rear-view, Webb remembered how stressful it was for instructors to transition to remote instruction. All cosmetology classes, lectures and labs have been operating remotely since late March and will continue to do so through the spring 2021 semester. 

“The rest of the semester and all through summer, we did research and tried to find out how other schools were doing it,” said Webb. “We wrote several petitions to the [state board], and they kept telling us no [to remote classes].”

Everything must be approved by the state board, which determines the program’s parameters, from what building it is in as well as textbooks and equipment. Webb said. The department could not run its program online unless the state board agreed. 

A week and a half before the fall semester started, the state board accepted the petition Webb submitted to teach cosmetology classes online. 

“And that was like panic time,” said Webb. 

For the first time, most of the cosmetology faculty was required to operate online and remotely, according to Marcia Bonawitz, cosmetology department chair. Teachers and primary adjuncts went through the Online Teaching Academy, which trained them to use Canvas and Zoom in remote instruction. 

The textbook used by the department that has been approved by the state board, “Pivot Point Salon Fundamentals,” provides great materials for teaching cosmetology online, according to Bonawitz.

“I’ve never taught an online class before—just like the other faculty,” said Bonawitz. “I’m enjoying it. It’s almost like you’re teaching one on one and not a big group.”

Webb explained that the lack of clients for the students to practice on might be the only drawback to remote instruction. She said she expects that instead, students will practice on family members.

“Someone’s probably going to bring in a husband or a friend,” Webb said. “They do that normally. They practice on whoever’s around.”

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Bonawitz said she would prefer to continue remote instruction whenever the pandemic subsides. She said there were already plans to transition cosmetology lectures online, which would give instructors extra time with the students during lab classes. 

“That’s something that we’ve been talking about for a couple of years, not just because of the pandemic,” Bonawitz said. 

She added that it’s easier to monitor students in an online environment. Walking across the room to see their work and give them more attention is much less efficient. Online classes also allow students to record lectures and watch them later to practice, Bonawitz said. 

Some students have given varying opinions about remote learning and practicing cosmetology. 

“When I first learned that we would be finishing our program out online, I had mixed emotions,” said Madison Herron, a senior in the cosmetology program. 

She explains that as cosmetology students near the end of their program, their main focus becomes passing the state board exam required to obtain certification. Campus closures have limited access to clients, allowing students to focus all their time and energy on preparation for the exam. 

Some parts of the cosmetology program have been easier than others, according to cosmetology major Tamsyn Cole. She has found it simpler to manage her classwork remotely.

“Doing the theory portion online is easier because we can do modules, take our tests and submit things online,” said Cole. 

Herron and Cole both shared that, for some students, it can be difficult and stressful to find an adequate environment to work. Herron said she’s just glad she’s close to obtaining certification. 

“It can be stressful, but I am truly thankful for the opportunity to finish the program sooner rather than later,” she said.

Webb explained that cosmetology has been planning to shift some of its program to online learning for a while. 
“I’ve wanted to see this happen for so long,” said Webb. “The students listen more. They’re not in a class with distractions. If this whole thing with the coronavirus didn’t happen, the change [into online learning] wouldn’t have happened so soon and positively.”

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