After a two-week delay to weather the worst of COVID’s omicron storm, students, faculty, and staff at Pasadena City College are making final preparations to return to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 24.
It will be the first time most students have returned to campus for classes in nearly two years.
Even so, the college is limiting the number of students and courses offered to further tame the spread of COVID-19. For the Spring 2022 semester, which started Jan. 10, roughly 58 percent of courses are offered face-to-face; the remainder are hybrid or online-only classes.
PCC’s Board of Trustees weighed in on the topic at Wednesday night’s board meeting. Student Trustee David Ramirez, whose two years on the board have almost entirely been conducted via teleconference, said the time was right to come back to campus. He and his fellow students are “firmly in support of allowing students that feel safe enough to do so return to campus next week,” he said, highlighting the “millions of dollars” spent on improvements to provide a safe campus.
On-campus class sizes have been reduced to half their usual size, to ensure adequate distance and reduce the chances of crowding.
And in a first among local community colleges, in October 2021 PCC required full vaccination against COVID-19, with limited exceptions, among all students, faculty, and staff that come in person to the campus.
As of Jan. 4, nearly 20,000 PCC students and employees have been verified as fully vaccinated.
“Everybody has their own unique circumstances that they have to deal with,” said Trustee Jim Osterling, saying he had received many letters from students, faculty, and staff about the return to on-campus operations. “I want to commend our administration for spending strategically so that we can return to campus as safely as possible.
“We’re doing the best possible job with the funds we’ve received to make our campus safe,” he added.
Upgraded ventilation and filtration systems have been installed in all campus buildings. In preparations begun prior to the summer of 2021, custodial staff have established enhanced cleaning and sanitization processes to help reduce the spread of germs.
When students return Monday there will be additional precautions to follow. All students and employees are subject to weekly COVID-19 testing at one of five locations on PCC’s four area campuses. Masks are required in all settings – indoors and out – and the college expects to distribute at no cost more than 12,000 KN95 masks to its students, faculty, and staff.
The college has also made direct grants to students on an extraordinary scale. Since the onset of the pandemic, PCC has provided nearly $10 million to more than 11,000 students in emergency federal CARES funds. Funding continues to be available to help students.
The college works closely with public health officials in Los Angeles County and the City of Pasadena and will adapt its plans as the pandemic continues to evolve.
More information about PCC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on a special section of the college’s website, pasadena.edu/LancersTogether.