Saddleback College welcomes students back on campus in the fall

Alyssa Gervacio/Lariat

President Elliot Stern confirmed in an announcement on Feb. 26 that the campus’ fall schedule is in the works. The South Orange County Community College District released a statement the same day regarding summer sessions with the recommendation that most classes and services remain online. Stern updated students about the return of programs with limited activity and commencement plans for May.

He took the time to acknowledge some myths that he has heard throughout the campus. Focusing on the fall schedule and bringing back 50% of all sections offered, he debunks the myth that 50% of students would be returning to campus as well.

“For the 50% of students with an on-ground experience, some will have one, some will have four or five per week,” Stern announced. “The average will have about two days out of five (or fewer) with an on-ground experience. So, on a typical day, only 40% of 50% of students (so about 20% of students) will have an on-campus experience. Those 4600 would be spread throughout the day, so at a typical point in a typical day, we would expect about 2000 students on campus–max.”

Kathleen F. Burke, the SOCCCD Chancellor, supports the continuation of remote learning throughout the summer semester and that each college is preparing their fall schedules.

“The Board of Trustees supports the administration’s recommendation that the majority of classes and services should remain online and offered remotely through the 2021 summer sessions,” Burke announced. “As the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccinations evolve, we collectively believe that it is safest for the majority of students, faculty, and staff to telelearn and telework through Aug. 13, 2021.”

Burke also confirmed that the Board of Trustees approved the suspension of parking fees through the 2021 summer session.

On March 9, Stern updated students and staff about reopening the campus for the summer and fall 2021 semesters. He compiled a list of the programs that will return to campus during the summer and fall semesters, including Theatre Arts, Nursing, Interior Design and Human Services.

Along with the many programs being available to students on campus, Stern announces that the Child Development Center reopened on March 15 at a 15% capacity and that the Learning Resource Center has reopened with scheduled hours for students who need the space to study.

As Saddleback nears commencement this summer, plans of making a drive-thru possible for students graduating this year are also something to look forward to.

Our Commencement committee is working on a drive-thru event that will bring back the celebration and our show of pride that graduating students deserve,” Stern announced in an email. “Those of you not graduating this May will celebrate your Commencement in our new stadium!”

In addition to that, more classes that are offered in fall and spring will also be provided in summer for students who may have fallen behind on their courses due to COVID-19. This allows students to either retake classes they may not have done well or get ahead with their courses.

“Summer will be mostly online with a few on-campus labs,” Stern said. “If you fell behind on your educational pathway because of COVID, we will have robust offerings this summer so that you will have an opportunity to catch up (or get ahead!).”

Stern concludes his announcement with the vaccine’s possible variants and its outcome among individuals who decide to get the vaccine. He also reminds students in his email that once campus reopens, masks will be mandatory and social distancing will still be in effect.

Another announcement from Christian Alvarado, dean of admissions, records, and enrollment services, talks about extending the excused withdrawal and pass or no pass options for students who may need it during this time. Alvarado briefly explains the P/NP choice and suggests students speak to a counselor before changing their grading options.

If you are in a course that allows the P/NP option, the P is the equivalent of a C grade or better,” Alvarado said in an email. “It gives you credit for passing the course but will not count toward your overall GPA. While the No Pass does not negatively impact your GPA, you will not earn units, and it will not be counted toward progress probation or dismissal.”

While COVID-19 has affected students academically, there is also the option for an excused withdrawal that can help students who cannot finish out the semester.

“For our students who are unable to finish a course this semester, the Excused Withdrawal Form Due to COVID-19 must be submitted by 11 p.m. on May 6.” Alvarado states, “EW grades are not eligible for an Enrollment Fee/Non-Resident Tuition refund.”

At this point during the pandemic, there will be various opportunities and options for students available as Saddleback has been able to adapt to the changes by providing support for the well-being of the students and staff. As for the rest of the year, Saddleback and its faculty have made some changes to help students succeed and continue to support students during the COVID-19.