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One year since Valley College Monarchs packed up their books and headed home

As Los Angeles approaches a year since the first government lockdown, students at Valley continue pursuing their distance-learning education.

By Marcos Franco, News Editor

Three nursing students walk to their class as one of the only in-person classes being held at Valley College during the 2021 spring semester. The nursing class is taught by Bilma Pellissery on Wednesday at the Emergency Services Center. (Photo by Austin Gonzalez-Angel/The Valley Star)

Valley College students are yet to largely attend in-person classes nearly a year after the closure of campus last spring due to coronavirus with no set plan on when they will return.

What was originally planned as a two-week closure in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 has carried over into the 2021 spring semester. Almost a year since the LACCD announced plans to cancel in-person classes and transition to online learning beginning March 18, 2020, the district’s nine campuses still remain mostly vacant with the exception of certain medical and manufacturing classes.

Southern California currently lies in the most restrictive purple tier of a four category statewide blueprint system intended to safely reopen schools and businesses. Since the system was implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom last August, the entire Southern California region — including Ventura, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles County — has yet to pass on to the less restrictive red tier, which would allow for certain classes at Valley to return at 25 percent capacity.

“We're in the middle of planning, and we don't know the extent to which we can bring more activity back to in person,” said Valley President Barry Gribbons. “That will certainly be tied to the tier that the county is in, and where the county is at in its recovery.”

Since the first reported case of COVID-19 in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2020, the virus has infected 1.2 million Angelenos and claimed the lives of nearly 22,000. Los Angeles is more populous than most states with 10.04 million residents, making it a breeding ground for the virus.

Two nursing students, Serena (left) and Amanda (right), on their way to their class as one of the only in-person classes being held at Valley College during the 2021 spring semester. (Photo by Austin Gonzalez-Angel/The Valley Star)

On March 3, state officials announced that 40 percent of incoming vaccines will be set aside for underserved communities. This move comes as a result of data suggesting that White and Asian communities have more access to the vaccine than Black and Latino communities. Once 400,000 doses are administered to California’s hardest hit populations, officials plan to ease regulations in order to allow more counties to pass onto less restrictive tiers.

As of March 1, all LACCD employees are now eligible to receive the vaccine, and while there is not currently a requirement for anyone to be vaccinated, some eager staff members have already made appointments to receive the shot.

“I, myself, was able to make an appointment for later this week [March 1-7]. So I'll be excited to get the first dose,” said Gribbons.

Although a detailed plan to return to the classroom has not been unveiled, campus officials are developing specific plans catered to each tier of the state blueprint. There is no word as to what 25 percent capacity would look like for classes and whether or not students would be on alternating schedules in order to limit contact with others.

“Knowing that we can't determine at this time how many classes we can have back on campus, we delayed the date [in] which the schedule will be available to students and when registration will start so that we can be more closely tied to the situation within the county,” said Gribbons. “My hope is to bring back many more classes to in person.”


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