The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), one of the largest in California, will continue online instruction for its 100,000 students through the remainder of the academic year, including the January 2021 intersession and Spring 2021 semester.
SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll emailed district employees yesterday informing them of the decision. With exceptions for a few programs that are difficult to offer virtually, all district classes have been online and all operations have been conducted remotely since March 23 to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Hybrid exceptions include various science and clinical laboratory sections, career classes with technical components, and classes for first responders, which are offered on campus with all health protocols required. Carroll says more hybrid classes and on campus support services will be offered in the spring if the situation allows, but that the district’s highest priority is the health and safety of its students and employees.
“It seems incredible that we are now in our sixth month of dealing with the coronavirus COVID-19,” said Carroll. “I do not believe anyone could have predicted the longevity of this crisis.”
In her Sept. 16 email, Carroll thanked district employees for their “dedication above and beyond the call of duty,” to assist students, many of whom continue to face financial hardship due to loss of income. Seven in 10 district students work to support themselves and/or their families. To date, the SDCCD has distributed $3.3 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to more than 8,000 students at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, as well as San Diego Continuing Education. Another $267,000 in funding is being provided by United Way of San Diego County to assist district students; $270,000 has been contributed by the San Diego Foundation to fund student laptops; and even more assistance is expected soon in the form of a State block grant.
In spite of these efforts, many district students have faced the difficult choice of continuing their educations or supporting their families, especially during a period when many public schools are online. Thus far, enrollment is down 8% across the district this fall, which is comparable to declines at other local districts. Of particular concern, however, is evidence that some of the region’s most vulnerable students – including those from lower-income communities and traditionally underrepresented groups – have been impacted the greatest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must ensure that the current public health crisis and economic crisis do not prevent our students from making progress towards their educational goals,” said Carroll. “The community and the workforce are counting on our ability to continue delivering a high-quality education and effective student outcomes.”
Meanwhile, one possible silver lining that appears to be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is a 25% increase in enrollment in the San Diego Promise, the free tuition program for eligible students. Program representatives believe the surge in new students is partly a result of more students who have chosen to start their educations at one of the district’s colleges, instead of at a university.
As one of the largest of California’s 73 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and San Diego Continuing Education. The three colleges, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Mesa College also offers a bachelor’s degree in health information management. Continuing education offers noncredit adult education at seven campuses throughout San Diego.