Fall classes remain online as Covid-19 cases soar in California

Cerritos+College+makes+the+decision+to+continue+with+online+learning+going+into+the+Fall+semester.+This+sign+is+placed+outside+of+the+Liberal+Arts+building+on+April+28%2C+2020.+Photo+credit%3A+Kianna+Znika

Cerritos College makes the decision to continue with online learning going into the Fall semester. This sign is placed outside of the Liberal Arts building on April 28, 2020. Photo credit: Kianna Znika

Daniel Suarez Jr., News Editor

Cerritos College and thousands of other CA institutions will give online and remote instruction going into the 2020-21 school year in efforts to stop the spread of Coronavirus, which has already claimed 5,000 lives in LA County alone. This March was the first time the college campus had been totally shut down since having its first classes in 1956.

The college officially closed its campus on Mar. 13, just days before Governor Gavin Newsom announced the ‘stay-at-home’ order on Mar. 19 in response to the Covid-19 outbreak in California.

The Golden State now leads the U.S. with 574,411 confirmed cases and reports a total of 10,468 deaths.

Even as the pandemic still ravages American communities across the country, school districts contemplate having in-person instruction in the Fall, despite warnings from health officials who say that it could have devastating consequences.

In a written statement, Cerritos College president Dr. Jose Fierro said, “The general consensus from the [Board of Trustees] and from our group leaders is that we will mostly continue to operate in an online format in the fall semester, with some notable exceptions.”

These exceptions “will primarily consist of CTE and Health Occupations lab classes that we are unable to offer online for various reasons.”

The school plans to execute this by organizing courses in Group 1 and Group 2 categories: Group 1 operates on campus with special guidelines including reduced class sizes and social distancing for the labs, and if “health data is favorable,” Group 2 (which includes subjects like physics and chemistry) will also be allowed to have labs under the same guidelines. All lecture courses will be held in an online or remote format.

One private California elementary school featured in the LA Times, Mt. Saint Mary’s of Nevada County, who claims they’re experimenting in-person instruction with their 168 students, a pupil size “nimble” enough to ensure the students and teacher’s safety according to Lincoln Snyder, the Superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

In contrast, the California teachers union, which represents more than 120,000 educators say reopening campuses would be “reckless,” and that it is “dangerous and compounds the effects of spreading the virus.”

On Aug. 9, Governor Newsom announced that most K-12 California public schools will be operating online if their respective county does not report any rise in Covid-19 cases for 14 days. As of now, 38 counties remain on the list of those reporting a rise or plateau in a two week period. These counties make up at least 90% of the state’s population.

The Trump administration has been adamant about sending kids back to school according to multiple statements by the president and his cabinet, even announcing he would be comfortable sending his own 14 year old child and grandchildren to school. President Trump cites the fact that the vast majority of children are unaffected by Covid-19 and that families rely on children going to school for childcare, social stimulation or even to escape dangerous situations in their homes.

However, there is currently no official strategy to ensure that students can social distance and wear their mask throughout the school day. Schools will also have to run the risk of asymptomatic students transmitting the virus to elderly teachers and to each other and bringing it into their homes.