By Saida Maalin
The class of 2020 graduation may be postponed according to Riverside City College President Gregory Anderson.
“We’re still hoping to graduate the vast majority of students who would’ve been able to graduate,” Anderson said. “If there are still some labs that students need to make up because we were unable to put them online then it may delay their graduation.”
Faculty and staff have been working around the clock to keep students updated with real time information surrounding COVID-19.
“We want to instill a sense of calm into our students, that we are here for you,” said Kristine Dimemmo, interim vice president of Planning and Development at RCC. “Our goal is to make sure you’re successful and (have) every tool in place to make sure you are.”
Many departments have already begun using Zoom to hold meetings and lectures since all in person lectures, labs and meetings have been suspended.
The Zoom app is free for students and can be downloaded using the App Store or Google Play Store and can be used on phones, tablets and computers.
Garth Schultz, chair of the RCC Counseling Department, said he wants students to know that faculty care about each and every one of them and their individual circumstances during this challenging time.
“For students without access to a computer, we have plans to use Google Voice and can use the Zoom audio-only option,” Schultz said. “Email always works too and we can respond to specific questions as they come in.”
According to Shultz, support from counselors, faculty, staff and educational advisers will be available to answer any questions via email.
“The student experience should be the same starting next week,”Schultz said. “It’s just that the environment that the experience occurs in will be a virtual one.”
The counseling department will allow students to schedule appointments using the online system beginning the week of March 23.
RCC student Lydia Lynn Bomar said faculty has done everything they can to keep her well informed.
“Personally, I’m a little worried about not having that one on one time with my professors and not getting the resources that are provided on campus,” Bromar said. “But my counselor Jermery Johnson has personally reached out to all of his students to make sure we have the resources we need to succeed such as laptops and WiFi”
Other student programs such as EOPS, NextUp and CARE will allow their students to schedule appointments with counselors and will contact their students via telephone or email the same week. UJIMA counselors will begin reaching out to their students to obtain academic progress individually.
“RCC is working together across programs and disciplines like I have never seen before,” said Schultz.
Resources for student success are being offered throughout the school.
Ujima is offering their students access to a laptop on a first come first serve basis to help those who do not have access to one at home.
Online tutoring is accessible to students and appointments can be set up online at riverside.mywconline.com, although the support may be limited due to the campus closure.
“We have with purpose and intentionality made sure that all of our tutors are actually in the virtual classrooms that they’ve connected with the faculty and students,” Dimemmo said.
For homeless students, food services are available as well as possible shelter.
“I have been offered many resources to make sure I’m capable of doing my part,” Bomar said.
RCCD is also offering three free self-care webinars to help students with their emotional well-being during these testing times on an online platform, www.activeminds.org/get-involved/special-events.
The College has been doing much to keep everyone updated since the end of February with essential information and guidelines to prevent the spread and exposure of the virus.
“Students need to understand they have all the skill and ability,” Anderson said. “They just need the knowledge. If they try to reach out they’re gonna have all the support that they need.”
To ensure success, students are being told to stay on top of school emails, Canvas and maintain contact with professors as often as possible.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that went into effect March 19 requiring Californians to stay home. According to the RCC COVID-19 updated website, the Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser has ordered that schools remain closed for in-person meetings, events, lectures and labs through April 30. Updates are provided on the RCC website www.rccd.edu/covid19.