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Students return to campus

Valley College Monarchs return to campus for face-to-face classes following three semesters of remote learning.

By Marcos Franco and Isaac Dektor, Staff Writers

Valley College student Shelly Vasa virtually attends one of her asynchronous classes online outside the cafeteria on Aug. 30. Although classes have returned to campus, Vasa is among many students who still take their classes online. (Photo by Luis Flores/The Valley Star)

After a 532 day hiatus from in-person classes, Valley College welcomes students and faculty back to campus.

For most students it was the first time that they gathered on Valley’s campus alongside their peers and faculty since March 2020, where new mask guidelines are in effect. Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. With the parking lot uncharacteristically empty, no music being played throughout the quad and closed drinking fountains, the first day of the fall semester lacked the typical bustle of student activity. According to Valley’s office of institutional effectiveness, enrollment is down by 2663 students this year as of Aug. 30.

Valley president Barry Gribbons believes the pandemic has altered enrollment trends among students.

“We were down in enrollment quite a bit, about a month and a half ago, and slowly it has been increasing,” Gribbons said. “During the pandemic, students as a group have been enrolling a little bit later. That creates a challenge to make sure that we are offering the right classes for the students.”

Despite the decline in student enrollment, students have relayed that they are excited to be back on campus.

Louis Mota, a 31 year old kinesiology major is eager to continue his education after more than a decade outside of the classroom. The second-attempt college student attended Valley briefly in 2009 but was not able to complete his educational goals. Twelve years later Mota is learning to adapt to being a Monarch again.

“I was here for the fair this past weekend and it was really helpful,” said Mota. “I got to meet with a counselor and decide what I wanted to study whether it be business or kinesiology and she gave me guidance to achieve my goals.”

A staff member is cleaning the cafeteria after closing for the day at Valley College on Aug. 30. The Monarch Cafe closed earlier with updated COVID-19 hours and is now open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm. (Photo by Luis Flores/The Valley Star)

The library remains closed and will be open next week, although the upstairs computer lab remains open for students. Tutoring services, which are also held on the second floor, will continue on Sep. 13 where writing and math labs will be offered. Writing workshops will be held on Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 3p.m. in addition to an online workshop on Saturdays. A scheduled time for math workshops has not been decided yet.

Students are required to complete a symptom self-check survey before arriving to campus which can be completed via the LAVC SAFE app or the LACCD website. Although daily check-ins are required for anyone entering campus, officials are not enforcing the policy.

“I feel that most students are unaware of the self check-in requirement before coming to campus,” said 18 year old software engineering major, Johnathan Cruz. “I think the school should add a banner of flyers reminding students to complete the survey before entering campus.”

LAUSD reported its first virus outbreak of the school year at Grant Elementary last week in which 11 students and faculty tested positive for COVID-19 according to the LA Daily News.

Despite the resurgence of the virus, Valley continues to monitor the situation within the county and encourages students to get vaccinated. Students who receive the shot at Valley will be given a $150 bookstore gift card per dose of the vaccine.

“I encourage — even urge — students to get vaccinated if they haven’t already,” said Gribbons. “More and more spaces are requiring vaccinations and I think that is just going to continue over the next few months. Most importantly, it’s what's going to help save lives and end the pandemic.”

With contributions from Cassandra Nava

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