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

Los Rios District announces additional on-ground classes for fall 2021

An empty City College campus Friday, May 22, 2020. (Sara Nevis/[email protected])

Editors note: Updated 3/20 to include additional sources.

Chancellor Brian King announced that all Los Rios Community Colleges will add more on-ground classes than originally planned for fall 2021. 

In a March 17 statement, King said the four colleges in the district are working to include a “narrow expansion” to the original plan announced March 1, in time for the scheduled April 5 online posting of the fall course schedules.

King cited as motivation for the change a rapid improvement in public health conditions, as well as President Joe Biden’s assurance that all adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination by May, and the recent change in Sacramento County’s COVID-19 risk level from the widespread “purple” tier to the substantial or “red” tier.

“Vaccine distribution has accelerated,” King said in the statement. “We are faced with some of the hardest decisions yet, working to identify the right timing and pace of reopening our campuses based on limited information regarding conditions in the fall.”

Originally, only “impossible to convert” classes were planned for fall on-ground instruction. But King’s announcement indicated that the list of courses and programs expected to be included in the fall schedule has been updated on the LRCCD Re-Opening page. He said the Chancellor’s Cabinet is considering additional recommendations from each of the colleges’ department heads, deans and Academic Senates.

Three categories have emerged to classify the types of classes included in the fall schedule. The list of “Impossible to Convert/Complete Programs” expanded to 27, increasing availability to a number of subjects that have been greatly impaired or unavailable over the last year. Some of those programs at City College include aeronautics and aviation, dental hygiene and dental assisting, commercial music, cosmetology and mechanical electrical technology.

Additions to the “Impossible to Convert” programs at all Los Rios colleges include manufacturing industrial technology, healthcare interpreter, speech/language pathology, radio, television, video and film, as well as sonography.

“Difficult to Convert Programs/Courses,” such as labs, English as a Second Language, and the Puente Project will be added to the on-ground fall schedule. 

However, King said, if social distancing requirements remain in place before the start of the semester, these programs will convert back to remote instruction.

Programs designed to allow cohorts of students to complete their degrees together benefit from on-ground instruction, according to Kaitlyn Collignon, City College public information officer. 

“We’re excited to hopefully be able to hopefully offer more on-ground options for students,” Collignon said, “particularly [classes] we haven’t been able to in the past year. Those will be top priority, those classes that need additional support — or if there’s an intent to keep a cohort [of students] together.”

Math and English departments will see a notable increase in on-ground classes available in the fall 2021 schedule. “Additional On-Ground Math and English Classes,” such as statistics and writing (ENGWR), will appear in the schedule with “significant safety” precautions planned. King said this decision supports districtwide equity and course completion.

“These [math and English] classes will proceed on-ground regardless of the status of social distancing requirements,” King said. “Class caps for these sections will be lowered as they are scheduled, but [could be] raised if social distancing is no longer required prior to the start of classes.”

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In response to King’s announcement, Jason Newman, president of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers (LRCFT), said in a statement that the decisions made by LRCCD have been largely shaped by state requirements.

LRCFT’s statement, cosigned by Chief Negotiator Belinda Lum, City College sociology professor, did not guarantee or require all full-time faculty to return to campus. Part-time/adjunct faculty may be given the choice to return to campus as well, assuming that public health conditions do not worsen before the start of fall semester, Newman said.

“We understand that faculty have health concerns for themselves and others in their household,” Newman said. “Except for the impossible to convert programs, full-time faculty in programs with increased on-ground offerings will be given the choice of opting in to on-ground teaching or service. The district holds the right of assignment, and your dean will make the final decision.”

Collignon said additional on-ground options may be added as plans develop further, but that City College administrators hope to “ease into” that process. She acknowledged that there likely won’t be as many on-ground options as people would like.

“We hope … students who may have considered taking some time off [reconsider] because they really liked the on-ground classes,” she said. “On the flip side, we also know that a few of our students have been really excited about the online option. So we’re trying to make sure there’s both options. This is a good first step as we get on-ground and figure out how it’s going to work.”

Addressing faculty of the City College Language and Literature division, Dean Robin Ikegami said that full-time faculty will have the option to change from a fully online teaching mode to face to face courses.

“I am planning to revert to our previous F2F schedule for [English writing] and ESL [classes],” Ikegami said in an email. “I am going to switch you back to that F2F schedule unless you tell me to do otherwise.”

Ikegami listed Umoja, EOPS and other “affinity programs” as those being included in the fall schedule. She said English writing classes will be offered on-ground, but with a “reduced cap.”

“These reduced-cap sections will NOT move to online even if social distancing is required,” she said. “There is still no word on what [the district] means by ‘reduced cap.’”

Ikegami informed part-time/adjunct faculty that because of the likely elimination of the University Preparatory Writing (ENGWR 157) program,  there will be fewer class sections available for adjuncts.

“Zero sections [of ENGWR 157 are being offered] for SCC adjuncts. This most likely signals the end of the English workload program [at UC Davis],” she said. “The loss of workload sections (15–30 in recent quarters) impacts SCC English adjunct assignments — with fewer SCC assignments to go around, fewer adjuncts will be employed.”

According to Collignon, the college’s reopening committee continues to finalize plans to implement safety precautions on campus.

“We don’t really know what August is going to look like,” Collignon said. “That’s part of the return to on-ground plan. There’ll be best practices, and we’ll be looking around at what other [college districts] are doing and what’s state recommended, from the county, from public health. Then we’ll be able to tier our response on the ground.”

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