EDITORIAL: RCCD campus reopening plans lack discourse

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A series of emails sent over the past few weeks informed students, staff and faculty of the Riverside Community College District’s plans to return to in-person instruction. The messaging, though, caused confusion around the district about how the plans will play out. (Muhammad Ribkhan | Pixabay)
By The Viewpoints Editorial Board

When students, faculty and staff are expected to adapt to an online environment, open lines of communication are crucial.

Language and messaging during COVID-19 must be clear and definitive. But the Riverside Community College District has blundered its messaging on the topic of the year: the return to in-person instruction.

Since the start of the spring 2021 semester, the only significant message regarding COVID-19 sent to students has been the “Fall 2021 Face-to-Face Instruction” email March 12. 

However, that email makes no mention of what measures the district will take to protect the students, nor does it elaborate on how they came to this conclusion. 

The email points only to a webpage where it claims students and faculty can find the latest plans, updates and information about the safe return to campuses.

In our opinion, the website is void of important promised updates and only provides antiquated information regarding the reopening. The pandemic has forced the world to become increasingly proactive with staying informed and the district’s leniency with providing up-to-date facts is unacceptable.

During the spring 2020 semester, when the campus made the switch from in-person to distance learning in March, the district made a concerted effort to keep the student body informed and updated on the constant changes occurring to the college.

In the beginning, the district would send emails about COVID-19 on an almost daily basis in an attempt to keep students as informed as possible.

However, by the fall 2020 semester, a major shift in their strategy of communication with students became apparent.

Weekly emails became monthly emails and monthly emails became bimonthly.

Then, when the spring 2021 semester began, only two updates were sent to students, one of those being the March 12 email.

The email left a lot of questions unanswered. Faculty and staff have voiced their concerns at recent Board of Trustees meetings. They are the ones that students communicate with the most and, yet, they too have raised questions that go unanswered.

We propose that the district hold a town hall that allows students to ask the questions that the task force has failed to provide thus far. The students have a right to know how these decisions are being made and the details of what is being looked at. The student body deserves an opportunity to provide input on the future of their education within the district.

The advertising for this town hall must be far reaching and the meeting should occur during a time that is accessible to as many students as possible.

We understand that members of student government serve on the Safe Return Task Force, but that is not enough. 

Riverside City College emailed students a survey March 23, asking for input on what type of instruction they would prefer in the fall, but that is not enough for the biggest decision of the times. 

A survey does not allow for any sort of conversation.

The students need an opportunity to voice their opinions on what their future education will look like in this district.

Discourse now is invaluable.

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