Most classes for students in the State Center Community College District will continue to be online for the spring 2021 semester, chancellor Paul Parnell announced in an email.
The district’s top priority is the safety of students, faculty, and staff, and so officials have remained in closed contact with local public health officials, he said.
“The input we had from all of our constituent groups to go online for fall, along with the input from local public health officials, help in our decision to remain primarily online for spring,” he said Thursday.
Classes shifted to online when campuses closed in the spring due to the pandemic, and State Center was among the first to announce that most fall 2020 semester classes would be online.
Announcement Not Premature
Parnell’s announcement comes only weeks after the start of the fall semester.
This is typically the time of year when the district announces scheduling plans for the spring semester, he said. With hundreds of sections to schedule, faculty and staff need time to prepare for the upcoming semester.
District officials had talked throughout the summer about whether the spring semester would be in-person or online, and Parnell said he receives daily updates about COVID-19 infection rates in Fresno and Madera counties.
“With 68,000 students at four colleges, we are not prepared to be part of the spread of the virus,” he said.
If an effective vaccine is developed soon, the district could consider face-to-face classes for the spring semester, but the likelihood of that happening is remote at this point, Parnell said.
Some Classes Are In-Person
In-person instruction will continue for students in programs such as police, fire, and nursing. Those students are wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, and keeping hands clean, Parnell said.
District officials are discussing the possibility of offering some lab classes in person, he said.
State Center includes four colleges — Fresno City, Reedley, Clovis Community, and Madera — and a college center in Oakhurst.