Graduation ceremony to be virtual as well
By Sam Catanzaro
Santa Monica College (SMC) has announced that its fall semester will be held online expressing doubt that a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine will be available before then.
Accoridng to SMC Superintendent and President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, nearly 3,000 classes and student support services will be online for the Fall 2020 semester. This follows an April 8 announcement that the summer session—as well as SMC’s graduation ceremony on June 16—will also be held in a virtual environment, to keep the college community safe during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
SMC’s main campus at 1900 Pico Boulevard and five satellite campuses also remain closed to the public until further notice. Classes at SMC Emeritus—the college’s program for older adults—and those delivered through Community Education and the noncredit program will also take place online, wherever possible.
This decision was announced by Jeffery following a recommendation made by the SMC Emergency Operations Team, which has been monitoring developments related to COVID-19, based mainly on two factors: a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will likely not be widely available until 2021; and it will be nearly impossible for SMC—the college’s campuses are all “open-access”—to identify, monitor, and distinguish between possible COVID-19 and typical flu cases in the fall.
“This was not an easy decision. There is no replacement for teaching, counseling, and talking to you in person; at the same time, nothing is more important than your health and physical, emotional, and mental well-being,” Jeffrey wrote in an email to students. “Your instructors and counselors are learning new skills, software, and tools so that they can give you the best possible academic experience,”
Enrolled students, according to Jeffrey, will have access to mental/physical health counseling and 24/7 emotional support through the SMC Center for Wellness and Wellbeing.
A limited number of courses that are not easily offered in a fully online environment might be offered via a hybrid option, if health and safety requirements permit, according to SMC.
“We are especially grateful in this current moment for the 170+ career and academic counselors, including psychologists, who are supporting SMC instructors in ensuring that [students] get the support [they] deserve,” Jeffery wrote.
For past and current information on SMC’s response to COVID-19, visit smc.edu/coronavirus.