By Juan Cavillo
Plans for a return to in-person classes are being assessed for safety protocols and include unique plans for each different class coming back in the fall.
The Comeback Committee held an insight meeting Thursday focusing on in-person protocols and how classes can work with changes that would come with in-person classes.
Representatives from programs that were deemed “hard to convert” at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic gave the committee chair Marcel Morales tips for departments on how to adapt to in-person classes.
Kendra Madrid, dean of business and finance in the career and technical education department, said it was important to first look over which classes from each department were asking to return.
“Start with the class first…Then identify how close is the distance and where the class is going to take place. What are your needs? And then develop your need for PPE based on that instead of a one size fits all,” Madrid said.
Morales said that there are engagement plans that the district has put out for the return to in-person classes. He said that there are also local, state and national guidelines for schools that are returning. He said the role of the Comeback Committee is to facilitate the process of in-person returns.
“We have each of the individual departments and divisions responsible for their own plans to come back safely,” Morales said.
Madrid said all deans should be having conversations with their faculty about noting which courses were coming back.
Madrid said departments like Allied Health and Nursing ended up using personal protective equipment, PPE, and were limited in students.
Each of the courses that returned had specific requirements as pertained to PPE gear and the district has invested in many of the areas involved with PPE and sanitization.
Morales said each department has different regulations when it comes to in-person classes. He said no two classes were alike when it came to regulations.
Madrid said there would be a need for departments to take into consideration their classes’ timing and it could affect their scheduling.
The reason for the class staggering directly relates to the time it would take campus facilities to go to a recently used room and disinfect and sanitize it for the next class.
“There has to be coordination between the on-campus class schedule and the sanitization plan,” Madrid said.
Jose Villareal, director of college facilities, said it takes on average between 15 to 20 minutes for a full sanitization of a classroom using the district approved solution. He said each classroom would need to be sanitized between class sessions.
Morales said staggered classes was one potential solution departments could use when creating plans for the fall semester. He said students that did return would be informed if a class was meant to fall under this type of scheduling.
Academic Senate President Jeffery Hernandez said when it came to scheduling, there might be some questions.
He said one option would be to have a class use two section numbers. One number for the hybrid of online and in-person. One class would simply be for online students. He said the question becomes a question of equity.
“What about students who really need that in-person (class) because they’re really limited in terms of their resources at home…in terms of being able to participate online. Should these students…be able to get a first crack at it,” Hernandez said.
He said a solution would be setting certain cohorts at the front for registering. A student cohort is group created, for example Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), that gets special support.
Hernandez said the only issue might be the complexity of addressing all concerns. He said he would be concerned if in the end, the solution was made a one-size-fits-all type of solution.
He said a solution would involve student equity and that the school would be interested in finding that type of solution.
“I think there is a will on part of the administration. I think the question is how can this be done,” Hernandez said.
He said a formal discussion would need to be conducted with students about returning to classes.
Morales said students were going to be actively involved in the return to in-person classes. He said the Associated Student Union would have representation on the Comeback Committee.
“I’ve already spoken to the ASU president about this. They’re going to have four seats at the table and two seats as alternates. I’ve already reached out to the dean of ASU, so their perspective will be valuable and necessary,” Morales said.