Students voice concerns, optimism about return to RCC campus in fall 2021

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By Jennipher Vasquez

Riverside City College students are anticipating the return to campus in the fall, while some remain apprehensive about the decision.

During the Board of Trustees meeting held March 16, Riverside Community College District Chancellor Wolde-Ab Isaac said the campus is expected to resume all in-person classes beginning Aug. 23, the start of the fall semester. 

Moreno Valley and Norco Colleges are also expecting to return to their campuses in the fall if coronavirus numbers continue to decrease. 

Isaac sent an email to students March 12 announcing that the three campuses will be offering face-to-face instruction starting in August, while many courses will continue to be offered in the online format to better serve everyone wanting to continue with their education. 

Some students have voiced their concerns about their safety in returning to campus at full capacity. 

Marissa Davis, a second year student at RCC, said she is weary about the decision. But she also feels a sense of relief being able to return to campus after having to push back her graduation date. Virtual learning has not worked well for her and she prefers in-person lectures.

“I’m more concerned about how things will be (on) campus when it comes to masks and social distancing,” Davis said. “But if the vaccine is required for staff and students that sounds fine to me. I used to be a full-time student, but ever since online classes became a thing I only take one class a semester.”

Davis added that she had originally planned to be at RCC for three years. Due to the pandemic setting her behind schedule, she won’t be transferring to a university until 2023. 

“I wanted to drop out but I didn’t want to go through that whole process again,” she said. “So I stayed enrolled but did the bare minimum and have waited until in-person lectures are back.”

Other students expressed their need for the choice between online and face-to-face classes to remain open. 

RCC student Emma Hillig said she is slightly apprehensive regarding the return to campus, especially because those that are out of work, considered non-essential workers and the non-disabled population are at the bottom of the hierarchy for receiving vaccines. 

“It’s great to have campus open up, don’t get me wrong,” Hillig said. “I can do some online, but in a lab heavy course it would not be beneficial if I can’t work hands on.”

Hillig also commented on the possibility of vaccines being a requirement for faculty and staff returning to campus, saying that if the campus cannot provide adequate resources to be vaccinated, she may have to take a full term break. 

The campus overall has been very helpful in accommodating her needs through virtual learning, she continued. 

“I think they did a great job in accommodation,” Hillig said. “In fact, I’d say I’ve talked to a counselor more now than I ever did prior, because it was easy enough to do.”

She also said RCC instructors have managed the pandemic well.

“Special thanks to Skip Berry,” Hillig said. “He’s been one of my professors since I started at RCC in 2019 and has been such a supportive instructor.”

Another student, Celia Sanchez, also said access to counselors have become easier after transitioning to virtual learning, but is excited to return to campus and hopeful to have the option to keep certain classes online. 

“I don’t think I feel comfortable going back to campus at 100%, but there are a few classes I would learn more from if they’re in-person, especially math.” Sanchez said. “Although, I do miss that interaction with other students in and outside of class.” 

Sanchez is hopeful that counselors continue to be easier to contact once the campus reopens because they have been helpful in providing and connecting her to resources for tutoring and financial resources. 

RCC plans on having all campus resources operating in-person, including the library, academic support, food services and all other student services.

Riverside City College continues to be closed to the majority of students, as it has been for a year now. (Saida Maalin | Viewpoints file photo)
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