A move by the Coast Community College District late Wednesday afternoon to temporarily suspend on-campus classes drew a variety of strong reactions from students.
Following the precedent set by schools like Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton, Orange Coast College will transition most on-campus instruction online starting next week amid fears of COVID-19 contagion. Classes such as physical education, performing arts and labs may continue regular instruction.
Jesse Lynn, a 19-year-old English major, was visibly upset by the news.
“If this is a decision that is being made at the district then I have a really big problem with that because I used to work at the district, and they don’t know any [of the] students. They don’t know anything about campus culture, and I have a hard time with them making decisions that are going to affect our education,” Lynn said.
She added that in-class discussions are crucial to her education and online classes take away that interaction.
“It’s really important that I get into my classroom and have a discussion to really break down the text and to bounce off other people’s ideas,” Lynn said.
Online classes don’t facilitate a comparable level of discussion, she said.
“There’s not a lot of commenting on online forums. It’s ‘Here’s my idea and I’m just going to let it sit. Comment on it if you will,’ and very few students will actually do that,” she said.
Lynn added that since most classes at OCC are relatively small, there is a smaller risk of contagion than at four-year universities like Cal State Fullerton.
However, other students agreed with the district’s decision but thought it was primarily a precaution.
Brittney Saucedem, an 18-year-old psychology major, agreed with the district’s decision but said they should begin to take preventative measures so that students can return to campus following spring break. She said that the entire campus should be cleaned more rigorously than normal, especially commonly touched surfaces like door knobs and desks.
Saucedem went on to say that if everyone took preventative hygiene measures like thorough handwashing less classes would need to be online.
“I don’t want to be home all day. I need the distraction [of on-campus classes],” Saucedem said of her hope that campus will return to normal following spring break.
Starla Maciel, an 18-year-old psychology major, echoed Saucedem’s thoughts.
“I feel like I need to be going to school to have something to do,” Maciel said, adding that she’s looking forward to having additional free time while instruction remains primarily online.
She said that she does worry about low-income students who might not have access to a computer or internet at home.
Erik Fallis, the district director for public affairs, said there are no plans to close campus, but the district’s task force is following all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Orange County Health Care Agency.
He added that officials understand that some students will need to access on-campus computers to complete their online courses and this factored into the decision to allow the school to remain open.
Lynn said that she hopes her plans to transfer after this semester aren’t affected by the changes.
“This is my last semester at OCC so it’s really important that I do my best here and use the campus and all of its services to transfer,” Lynn said.