Fall goes online

Fall goes online

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) has decided to keep courses in their online format through the fall 2020 semester, but some professors are hoping to return to in-person instruction.

No future plans have been solidified, according to Pierce College President Alexis Montevirgen.

“We’re working with the district on what they call a recovery plan,” Montevirgen said. “We’re at phase one right now where we’re responding to the situation. Phase two would be seeing who we need to bring back on the campus, who we absolutely need to bring back.”

Montevirgen said phase three is to start thinking about the 5% of classes that were unable to convert online and how to try to get those courses to have some classroom time while respecting social distancing.

“I know many students are like, ‘Well, I need this to graduate’ and I understand that” Montevirgen said. “We’re trying to move as fast as we can, but we want to do so in a way that’s very intentional and thought out.”

Sociology professor James McKeever said via audio recording that although he gets the logic behind the decision, he is afraid that Pierce and LACCD might lose student enrollment because of this pandemic.

“I understand why they made that decision, because they don’t want a bunch of people in one place,” McKeever said. “But I am worried about our most vulnerable student population, which is working class Black and Brown students, who may go to work and never come back.”

Performing arts professor Garineh Avakian wrote in an email that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that the school will look back at this time of instruction in awe and see that people persevered mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.

“With the situation being so fluid, I think it was a wise decision, though it poses a lot more issues and concerns from various departments on campus,” Avakian wrote. “In regards to the performing arts, music area, it is unfortunate to not have live performances, concerts, lessons, and classes.”

Avakian has been getting ready to shelter in place by setting up an art studio in her home office with a Yamaha keyboard, professional microphones, tripods, music software for video and audio editing and high-tech speakers.

“I am able to supply my students with tracks for them to sing to,” Avakian wrote. “I am utilizing Canvas to ask them to record their songs. As for the fall semester, I have asked and invited contacts from my own network to join me in my classes at Pierce to talk about their own journeys as professors, performers, agents and producers.”

Political science professor Denise Robb wrote via email that when campus closed, she was in the middle of taking a class that certified her to be an online teacher for a second time.

“I’ve been certified already for a few years, but I was putting off creating an online course because I really like teaching in person,” Robb wrote.

Robb wrote that because of her online certification, she is familiar with Yuja, Zoom, EDPUZZLE, and knows how to create video quizzes.

In terms of plans beyond the immediate future, Montevirgen said that department chairs are thinking about what courses will be offered for spring 2021.

“I think what we’re doing is trying to learn as much as we can, and understanding that those things may change,” Montevirgen said. “Even for the fall, we’re going to plan for it to be online because that’s the safest and most responsible way to plan.”