Courtesy of Kianna Znika
Over the Easter Sunday weekend, Cerritos College President and Superintendent Dr. Jose Fierro announced in an email to staff and faculty that the college will remain online for summer sessions before transitioning to in-person learning in the fall 2021 semester.
“The college will offer 50% of all class offerings for each department in a hybrid format,” Fierro said, “As we return to campus, the district will continue to comply with mandates and guidelines from the state and local health officials.”
The email references the latest update from the state, putting Los Angeles County into the orange tier on its COVID-19 monitoring system. This classification will allow restaurants, movie theaters, churches, museums, zoos and aquariums to allow guests at 50% capacity. The new rules were implemented midnight on Monday, April 5.
The president’s email also announced that all “regular” employees will be required to return to campus “at a minimum of 50%” starting August 2.
Offices will be open to the public Monday through Thursday for at least eight hours a day.
Fierro then said that by the end of April, the college will work with department chairs to determine which courses will remain online and which will begin in person instruction to meet the 50% threshold.
Lynn Wang, president of the Cerritos College Faculty Federation, one of the school’s faculty unions, responded with another email to faculty stating that the union was not involved in the decision making and questioned whether faculty would have the right to refuse teaching on campus if they choose to do so.
“This is the first CCFF has seen any plan to return to campus for fall 2021,” Wang said, “We, like you, were under the impression that returning to campus in fall 2021 would be voluntary. This was the message that Dr. Fierro himself shared when asked by constituents.”
Wang’s email also encouraged employees to reach out to the administration and the Board of Trustees with their questions.
According to Fierro, the college will make some accommodations in preparation for this transition, including a walkthrough of campus facilities, which will determine where new sanitizing stations, trash cans and plexiglass barriers will be installed.
Under the condition of anonymity, one tenured professor shared their thoughts on Fierro’s email, “I will have to trust whatever guidelines the scientists and LA County says. I was hoping for a hybrid class style. The question is what about class sizes? 50, 60, or 20 students? What about faculty who have family members at home who may be vulnerable? Maybe [returning to campus] should be voluntary.”
ASCC Senator and Vice President Cerys Rotondo said that a gradual opening of campus combined with increasing rates of vaccinations in the county could yield many benefits.
“I believe having a partial open will help accommodate students who learn better in person and will even allow students to continue their education if they took a break due to the online transition,” Rotondo said.
“Having a partial open rather than full open gives students options. I know we don’t know what the parameters of 50% open will look like yet, but I hope Cerritos continues to listen to science and apply other countries’ successful and safe reopenings to our campus.”