Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Grace Smith
Santa Monica College 

SMC Will Offer Some In-Person Classes in Fall 2021 Along with the Online Classes

While Most of the 2,900+ Classes for Semester Beginning Aug. 30 Will be Online, SMC Will Also Offer In-Person Options & Wide-Ranging Support

 

March 19, 2021

SMC.edu

SMC urges us to keep learning, but plans to keep most classes online, even in the fall

SANTA MONICA, CA-Santa Monica College (SMC) will offer a flexible array of course offerings for the Fall 2021 semester, which begins Aug. 30. While most of the 2,900-plus classes will be online, a significant number of in-person offerings will also be made available. This coincides with Los Angeles County moving into the red tier today-the loosening of restrictions for various sectors includes allowing institutes of higher education like SMC to provide lecture classes at a reduced room capacity.

The college's main campus at 1900 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica and its five satellite campuses remain closed to the general public; LA County's reopening protocols for higher education limit activities on campus to essential functions strictly related to college activities. In addition to 180 free noncredit career development/college prep classes as well as low-cost professional development and personal interest classes through SMC Community Education, Santa Monica College continues to offer a robust calendar of special events, most of them free of cost, to community members. These include SMC Drescher Planetarium shows; guest lectures from noted speakers on social justice, STEM, the arts, and more; literary readings; and visual online arts exhibits. See smc.edu/calendar for current and upcoming events.

The college will continue to offer most classes, counseling and support services online for the remainder of the Spring 2021 semester and the Summer 2021 intersession, as previously announced; the only exceptions are limited practicum lab tools for disciplines deemed essential by the State of California (like nursing and respiratory therapy) and low-contact intercollegiate sports beginning this week.

All on-ground activities take place under strict adherence to LA County Public Health, California Department of Public Health, and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) protocols; in addition, SMC's Emergency Operations Team also develops college-specific comprehensive safety plans for each activity and oversees logistics and compliance related to COVID-19 testing and other criteria for students and employees.

The 2,900+ classes available for Fall 2021 semester represent 175 degree and certificate options, and also include 180 noncredit career development and college prep classes. A significant number of in-person offerings-which will strictly be limited to what current Public Health protocols allow-will be made available. The college will release the schedule of classes for Fall 2021 on Monday, April 12 at smc.edu/classes. Students will have the ability by then to search for online or on-ground class types. Counseling, faculty office hours, and other support services that require face-to-face contact with students will continue to be accessible online.

In an email sent to students this morning, SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery noted that college officials are carefully monitoring local, state, and federal public health guidance and "in-person offerings may pivot back to an online, remote environment should it become necessary. This is a dynamic situation; Santa Monica College retains a flexible, nimble approach that follows science and public health guidance, while keeping your wellbeing the highest priority."

"This week marks a year since SMC made a swift pivot to an online environment in the wake of COVID-19's rapid spread back in March 2020," said Jeffery. "Looking back, I am even more appreciative of and inspired by the resilience and creativity demonstrated by Santa Monica College's students and employees. With LA County moving into the red tier, and President Biden's announcement that by May 1, all adults in the U.S. will be eligible for a vaccination, we look forward to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. We will continue to follow the science and keep the college community's wellbeing paramount. And likewise, we will follow an equity-centered framework to better provide all SMC students the highest-quality learning experience possible."

In the past year, Santa Monica College extended its already-comprehensive student support network to meet needs specific to the challenges caused by COVID-19:

§ Online Counseling, Events, and Workshops: Santa Monica College has the most extensive student support and counseling network-170-plus career and academic counselors, including psychologists-among community colleges statewide, to ensure that a student can reach their self-chosen goals. Twenty specific counseling areas provide individualized support including the Black Collegians Umoja Community, a Career Services Center, the Adelante Program, SMC Dream Program, Veterans Resource Center, Guardian Scholars, and dozens more. Nearly all the events and student success workshops that would normally take place on-ground were migrated online, so that students still receive the same level of support and have the opportunity to stay connected with their counselors and college community.

§ Health & Wellness Support, in Ways that Matter Most: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased levels of stress and anxiety among college students across the nation. SMC offers short-term free counseling and confidential therapy-as well as a 24/7 free emotional support hotline-to students through its Center for Wellness and Wellbeing. In addition, weekly mindfulness meditation sessions and workshops on the topic of "pandemic grief" have also been provided. SMC's Student Health Services also provides students free virtual, confidential healthcare with a nurse or nurse practitioner and immunization services.

§ Distribution of Direct Federal Relief Aid to Students: SMC received two rounds of federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) – a total of over $12.2 million – specifically for emergency financial aid grants to students who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. As of last week, SMC has distributed nearly 16,000 checks totaling $8.1 million in CARES/HEERF relief aid to 7,868 students with the assistance of faculty and counselors who help identify students whose needs meet the eligibility criteria. SMC has also distributed $67,200 in SB 116 Disaster Relief Aid to 192 AB 540 students, and $5,500 in emergency relief grant aid to Respiratory Therapy students.

§ Free Chromebook Lending Program & Free Wi-Fi Area for Students: SMC continues its free technology-lending program for students and employees. In addition, the college extends the services of a free Wi-Fi area at its Bundy Campus, for enrolled students.

§ Resources for the Food-Insecure: According to a Spring 2020 survey run by The Hope Center, 44 percent among two-year college students are struggling with food insecurity. Since the beginning of the pandemic, SMC has served over 11,600 students through a weekly drive-thru food pantry. The SMC Foundation also launched the Meal Project, which has delivered over 147,300 free meals via social enterprise Everytable to the homes of 1,500 students, including seniors, housing insecure students, veterans, and former foster youth; the foundation has also launched a partnership with Impossible Labs and its Hunger Not Impossible program-this enables students to text a number stating they are hungry, and in turn receive a list of places close to home where they can get a free meal. SMC also provides students who might be eligible for CalFresh-the federal program that provides monthly food benefits to low-income individuals and families-the services of a resource specialist who helps them determine eligibility and sign up.

§ Helping the Community Fight COVID-19: Early on in the pandemic's wake, SMC's Nursing and Respiratory Therapy programs donated ventilators and respirators to hospitals fighting COVID-19, through the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). In coordination with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the State of California, and OptumServe, the SMC Airport Arts Campus serves as a walk-up, by appointment only COVID-19 testing location. To date, 28,522 tests have been administered at this site.

The college continues to work with public health agencies including the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and coordinates emergency response with local partners, including the City of Santa Monica. For more information on SMC's COVID-19 response, visit: smc.edu/coronavirus.

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About Santa Monica College

Smc.edu

SMC's website advertises happy students without masks but this isn't the reality at the moment.

Founded in 1929, Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For 30 consecutive years, SMC has been California's leader in transfers to UCLA, UC Berkeley, and other University of California campuses. The college also tops in transfers to the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University. SMC offers 175 degree and certificate options that offer professional preparation for students interested in directly entering the job market, transferring to a four-year school, or upgrading specific skills. SMC provides news and cultural enrichment through its NPR radio station KCRW (89.9 FM) and The Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center as well as lifelong learning through distinctive programs such as its Emeritus Program for older adults.

 

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