Fall semester reopening still uncertain

“You may have questions that we don’t have answers to just yet”


Students travel to classes between Davies Hall and the portable village on Sept. 5, 2019. There is a chance that there can be a return to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Student and faculty listening sessions and reopening reports are among the steps that will determine a possible reopening. (File Photo)

Heather Amberson, Managing Editor

College campuses, including American River College and others in the Los Rios Community College District, have been shut down for almost a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, student and faculty listening sessions and reopening planning reports are steps that are being taken by leaders from all four LRCCD campuses to decide if the campus can re-open for the fall 2021 semester.

While there are still many questions about the reopening, some things were addressed in faculty and student listening sessions led by leaders from all four Los Rios Community College District campuses on Jan. 13-15 for faculty and Jan. 21 for students.

The student session was a part of the early stages of forming a reopening plan for the fall 2021 semester. The session was a place for students to voice how they are dealing with online learning and the challenges that come with it, along with things that can be done to improve. A similar session was held Jan. 13-15 for faculty from all four LRCCD campuses.

According to Frank Kobayashi, vice president of instruction at ARC, some of the questions asked in both listening sessions will be answered when possible.

“As we have answers to questions, a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section will be added to the reopening website. As we have more information, this webpage will be regularly updated,” Kobayashi said in an email.

The student listening session was led by Davin Brown, vice president of student services at Sacramento City College.

“While we’ve done our best to support you through our remote offerings, we understand the importance of capturing your insight and feedback as we prepare for our reopening,” Brown said to open the session.

In the session, students gave feedback on keeping some classes asynchronous, being unsure of returning to campus during the pandemic, struggles with tutoring hours and student tech issues.

Some questions were asked about class sizes being impacted by social distancing when the campus does reopen, as well as questions about the vaccine, if it will be needed to return to campus, and if it would be covered by the student health fees. As of now, there isn’t an answer to a lot of these questions due to continuously changing circumstances, according to Brown.

“You may have questions that we don’t have answers to just yet. The reason for that is we are absolutely committed to not making decisions or making recommendations in isolation,” Brown said. “The feedback that we secure from you all as students, from faculty, that we secure from other managers and that we secure from classified professionals will help to inform the direction that we go.”

Some of the questions and things discussed during the listening sessions, among other things, have been listed in an initial report that was released on Jan. 31.

Inside the report, there is a model that explains how the reopening would look based on where we are at with the COVID-19 pandemic. The model shows that some classes may remain online even if the campus does reopen.

“It is likely that when we reopen, there will be a significant number of classes online. As public health conditions change, and more in our community have access to vaccinations, these plans will evolve,” Kobayashi said.

There are still many questions about the campus reopening, but more information will be available with the next report, according to Kobayashi.

“The next report, due on Feb. 28, will have more information on a possible reopening. We expect that, even at the end of February, there will still be many things that we do not know about what public health conditions will be in the fall,” Kobayashi said.

To find the initial reopening report, along with future reports and other information about the possible reopening, visit the reopening website.