Learning Resources Center opens its study and technology spaces once again

The Saddleback campus library has become a resource for students once again after its soft reopening on March 9. Alyssa Gervacio/Lariat

Students now have an area on campus with secure Wi-Fi and a quiet atmosphere to achieve academic success

The LRC at Saddleback College – which holds a computer laboratory and campus library – announced that students can sign up for a time slot to use the space as needed for studying and educational sanctum beginning March 9. From 8 a.m. to noon, the building holds reservations for need-based learning requirements cut off from students during the pandemic and after the switch to online learning.

The once crowded LRC filled with a sea of students and individuals every day will now host a small number of them every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the set hours by completing a three-step registration process to access the amenities. With over 1,500 laptops and Chromebooks loaned out over the past year, Saddleback teachers and staff recognize the continued difficulties for students to stay engaged and academically motivated while consumed in an isolated environment.

The director of learning assistance, Kim d’Arcy, and one of three administrators in charge of planning, launching and coordinating the LRC’s reopening for study spaces made it clear that Saddleback initiated the newly reopened program to prioritize student success. Within the first couple of days back in the building, located in the middle of campus, d’Arcy – alongside Marina Aminy, the dean of online education and learning resources, and Kevin O’Connor, the dean of Liberal Arts – was joyous in the current state of the program after seeing the influx of individuals brought back to Saddleback following a full year away from their in-person resources.

“It felt great to be back and to see our amazing students,” d’Arcy said. “Books were out, earbuds were in, and the students were working away. It was inspiring to see that even through a pandemic, our students are still focused on their futures.”

To access the 50 available spots each day for the LRC’s program, students must fulfill a three-step registration process that follows COVID-19 protocol and health guidelines functioning within county restrictions. Students can access a  COVID-19 release form through the student portal, MySite, and reserve a computer or round table study area through the Saddleback website. In addition to wearing a mask and social distancing, students need to fill out a health screening form that is sent to their student email the morning of the reservation.

Through a collaborative effort between Saddleback’s Health Center, Campus Police, Tech Services and facilities, leading administrators were able to bring students back safely and efficiently, succeeding the several months this project was in the making. The departments found access to personal protective equipment and new signage to ensure its academic community a safe return.

As California enters the Red Tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Saddleback also makes a slow transition back to normalcy with limited access to campus resources. Regular programs usually conducted in the LRC, like subject tutoring, are to be continued online through Zoom and virtual booking appointments. However, socially distanced spaces beginning March 9 show signs of progress in Saddleback’s efforts to reconnect students with in-person learning strategies.

“We were recognizing that home environments were not conducive to learning,” d’Arcy said. “Some students lived with multiple family members and children in small spaces. Students needed a quiet place to study or they needed more reliable Wi-Fi.”

The college created at-home connections to hotspots and turned its parking lots into an internet access point. But with transmission rates decreasing and vaccinations growing rapidly every day, Saddleback quickly took the opportunity to help learners become more lucrative in their educational journeys.

Based on need and use, the administrators and LRC staff are constructing tentative plans for the expansion of the campus program.