College cites lack of available vaccine
By Sam Catanzaro
Santa Monica College (SMC) has announced it will be delivering classes primarily in an online environment for the Winter and Spring 2021 semesters because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the college, SMC is offering over 700 online classes for the Winter 2021 intersession, which runs from Jan. 4 to Feb. 11, 2021 and over 2,800 classes for the Spring 2021 semester, which runs from Feb. 16 to June 15, 2021.
In line with county and federal guudliens, SMC will continue to offer limited access to practicum/lab tools for instructional programs deemed essential by the California Governor’s Office including Nursing, Respiratory Therapy and Media/Interaction Design.
In a college-wide memo sent Sept. 21, SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery announced that the college made these decisions based on recommendations from its Emergency Operations Team, which monitors the pandemic and is utilizing California’s four-tiered risk assessment system, in addition to LA County Public Health and CDC guidelines and requirements as a framework for decision-making.
“It is unlikely that a safe, widely available vaccine will appear this year,” Jeffery wrote. “The safety, health & wellbeing of SMC colleagues and students is the highest priority …Santa Monica College upholds the highest level of dedication to access, equity, and excellence in these challenging times.”
SMC will continue its free Chromebook lending program for employees and students and continue to disburse federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) financial assistance to students disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“SMC has distributed $2.6 million in one-time checks to nearly 5,000 students and the remainder of the $6.1 million grant designated for direct aid to students will be distributed throughout the fall semester to those with verifiable needs. The college was also awarded an equal amount of $6.1 million to cover costs related to the transition to an online environment,” SMC said in a press release.
In addition, SMC will continue to provide telehealth services through its Center for Wellness & Wellbeing including a free 24/7 emotional support hotline and short-term, free, confidential therapy.
Students also have access to a weekly drive-thru pop-up pantry: the SMC Foundation’s Meal Project has delivered well over 86,000 meals—free of charge—via social enterprise Everytable to the homes of more than 12,180 students who need the assistance, including seniors, housing insecure students, veterans, and former foster youth.