By Eduardo Sanchez
Enrollment to Los Angeles Community College District colleges has declined since the start of the pandemic, leaving three years before the economic toll takes effect.
During the LACCD Academic Senate on May 12, the LACCD Enrollment Update was shared.
The update showed that when compared to the previous year, enrollment for the upcoming spring semester is down by 13%.
Head count is also down by 11%. Despite section count having gone up by 3%, enrollment by section went down 16%.
With the transition to online learning due to COVID-19, some students have had difficulty adjusting to these from home lectures and decided to not continue enrolling in future courses.
“We have preliminary data showing that they’re not coming back,” said Angela Echeverri, president of the LACCD Academic Senate.
The data shows that even though first-time and transfer student percentages are up, the district is losing continuing and returning students.
There is especially a high percentage of Latino and Black students not coming back.
At the moment, a third of classes offered are in person and the rest are either remote or a hybrid of remote and in-person.
The LACCD’s goal is to have this changed to 50/50 by the fall.
The state budget and money received from the district has helped to financially cushion the drop in enrollment.
The current aid is only projected to help LACCD until June 30, 2025.
This leaves three years to try and change the patterns in the decline of returning students before it costs the district millions.
“As we move forward to our next year, this is a huge time of transition for us. Not only because of the pandemic, but because of all this legislation that is really changing our colleges and our programs,” Echeverri said.
One of the changes being made for the upcoming school year is the company used to proctor online exams, Canvas Studio.
The system was used to proctor and flag suspicious attempts of cheating on exams while students were in remote classes.
Reports showed that the system flagged students of color more than others which led to charges of equity violation.
The new company, YUJA, has already been approved by the LACCD board and will be used for test proctoring.
The new program will be accessible through Canvas and will allow professors to add test questions to videos.
The change will get rid of flagging on exams entirely though professors are still able to turn on the feature if wanted.
Access to locking features will also be available to ensure students cannot copy and paste questions from exams.
Proctoring systems cost almost a million dollars with other companies but the new system is still $10,000 more than what was originally going to be spent with Canvas Studio.
The new program has an estimated cost of $133,450 as shown in the LACCD budget list.
The partnership with YUJA will be coming later this year.
Another change for the future semester came from a four to three vote by the LACCD board to remove face mask and vaccine regulations.
“After consulting with various groups, the chancellor recommended aligning with the Public Health department to recede the mask mandate in indoor settings after the end of the spring term, which would be effective June 12,” said Echeverri.
Although the board recommends people to wear face masks, they will not be mandatory.
The vaccine requirements were also amended. The requirement that district students be fully vaccinated as a condition of accessing district property was removed.
This includes removing disciplines for those who did not comply with the original mandate.
Although booster shots are no longer mandatory, students will still be required to complete the Cleared4 assessment and scan app before setting foot on campus.
Faculty without a booster will no longer have to be tested every two weeks and outdoor activities will not require masks.
This includes the upcoming graduation ceremonies, which will be the first to be held in person since the start of the pandemic.