Brian J. Matis
With campus shut down since March, Cosumnes River College, along with the other Los Rios community colleges, is working on a plan to return to campus for the fall semester.
All Los Rios schools have formed a reopening committee as a part of the effort to bring classes back on campus.
Theresa Tena, Vice President of Administrative Services, is a part of the reopening committee and she said during the early parts of this process, the committee wanted to hear the concerns of both staff and students.
“This first phase for this new planning team was what are the folks’ concerns? What are the areas that they would like to weigh in and share information? So, we have a website that was set up exclusively for this to gather information. It’s broken down by categories of general concerns and guiding principles that we should have at the forefront, as we’re putting together the plan,” said Theresa Tena, Vice President of Administrative Services.
College President Edward Bush said he doesn’t know for sure if this plan will come to fruition, but he thinks it’s a step towards the right direction to reopen campus.
“They’ve (the committee) been doing a listening tour across the four colleges that you see from their web page and those are opportunities for people to provide feedback,” Bush said. “The hope is to be reopened by fall but no definitive decision has been made around that yet.”
The website that Bush mentions is a section on the CRC website listed as “Reopening Plan” and includes key committee members, important upcoming dates, recorded listening sessions and the reopening plan report.
One of the main concerns from students and staff are health and safety concerns to return to campus.
“Concerns about how the college is going to orchestrate social distancing and what the college will be doing to ensure that the students’ experience will be in classrooms and labs,” Tena said.
Health and safety is a priority in order to get back on campus so that students can be better engaged when learning, Bush said.
“There are all sorts of students who are not even enrolled at our college because they cannot wrap their head around taking classes online because they want a face-to-face environment,” Bush said. “Also those who just would find it difficult to enroll in college because of the health situation on the ground and also the economic disparities that have been revealed by the pandemic.”
Not only is Bush concerned about the students’ academic struggles but also those personal struggles that they could be facing while at home.
“It’s not just the issue of health status that is causing folks to struggle, but it’s also the very real economic implications of the pandemic that is making it very difficult,” Bush said. “What tempers me about wanting to rush those students back on ground is those health realities as well so there’s a real tension point that we’re grappling with because of some tough realities that we’re facing.”
With a COVID-19 vaccine out, there is no decision requiring students or staff to vaccinate in order to come back on campus, Bush and Tena both said.
Along with this, students and staff will still have the option to continue in remote operations.
With a potential reopening of campus this fall, Bush said that they are still trying to figure out how to get people back on campus safely, but there are a couple of different approaches to take.
“We look at CRC and we talk about programs like the automotive program, horticulture and construction that generally operate outside anyway, that it might be a pathway for them to return to campus and do so safely out here to all over the COVID protocols, but it still hasn’t been determined,” Bush said. “My sense is that we will begin to prioritize when we find a way to get people back on ground safely.”
Student-athletes have missed out on their athletics and Tena said that the committee is listening to local, county and state guidance as to how to bring sports back.
“There’s a desire to ensure that we’re meeting those needs and balancing out the current health and safety protocols that are in place,” Tena said.
For more information, visit here to stay updated on a potential opening of campus in the fall of 2021.