Can students afford the transition to online classes?

A portion of classes require technology that many students can’t afford


School normally has the supplies, materials, and technology for a student who normally would not be able to afford, however this changes when all work is shifted online, forcing students to purchase things that normally would not be needed. (Photo courtesy of pixabay)

Bram Martinez, Arts and Culture Editor

American River College shut its doors on March 16, and in the weeks since the switch to online, curriculum has been strenuous for both the teachers and students. The transition hasn’t been smooth because of restrictive store curfews, limited supplies, and an increase in unemployment. This transition has also had an added negative effect on the students’ wallets.

Classes require materials, both manual and electronic. Previously, students could check out certain technology (calculators, laptops, art tablets, etc.) and they could utilize the library or the Learning Resource Center to use certain programs, computers and printers. 

This changed after ARC shut down, students are now being forced to purchase materials that they normally wouldn’t need, or drop their classes.  

“In my class, we were required to buy webcams last minute for a science class (they were required in not enough time to ship them unless it was prime)”, according to one student who asked to remain anonymous for fear that his instructor might react negatively to his comments. “Other students and I soon realized that many stores were out of webcams and that even went for online stores.”

This student says he had to purchase a $100 webcam that would normally not be needed in a class that was already based online. This is money that this student will not get back, with the only reason for purchase being that the class is 100% online now.

“This is all work that we’ve been doing online for weeks now without any extra technological help, just simple canvas written assignments and videos to watch,” the student said. “There is one possible day that we could need a webcam for but that seems more like that we need to see her and not that she needs to see us.”

Do teachers understand the shortcuts of online work, or that not all students have the funds to purchase the added materials?  

Either way, such large purchases can greatly impact recently unemployed students, such as Jose Arturo Samano.

“The office supplies did cause a financial strain since I lost my job due to COVID-19, and I had to make adjustments to my spending,” Samano said. “The professors did not offer any links for cheap materials, but they did refer to the ARC Bookstore, Wal-Mart, Office Depot and other stores. I believe they were more focused on helping students transition properly and with ease, rather than focusing on the supplies needed.”  

He says he bought the materials for his geography and psychology lab courses, he worked as a shift lead at Auntie Anne’s.

ARC’s staff, faculty and administration are attempting to ease the situation. The college offered a limited amount of Chromebook laptops on a first come first serve basis for students, but that was March 19, according to an email sent by Joshua Moon Johnson, dean of Student Services, Equity Programs and Pathways. However, for those students that won’t be able to receive a laptop, they may be running out of choices due to the widespread shutdown event. 

The college is also utilizing the Los Rios Colleges Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund in order to assist students. Items like grocery cards and Student Emergency Fund (SEF) (which lowered its maximum reward to $500 in order to assist more students) requests are offered to an unfortunate large demand, according to an email sent by Brian King, chancellor of Los Rios  Community College District.