SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Throughout the summer, Santa Barbara City College hoped to hold some of its courses face-to-face this fall.
However, with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise throughout Santa Barbara County, SBCC recently made the difficult decision to begin its fall semester fully online.
If health conditions improve by the end of September, some courses could convert to in-person instruction.
However this presents another obstacle for the college.
"Once you determine that classes are going to be online, students sometimes leave the area,” SBCC superintendent/president Utpal Goswami said. “Obviously we cannot bring those classes back."
The college is expecting a 30 percent decline in non-California resident enrollment, especially students from outside the United States.
“If it’s a one-year hit, we can do it, we can absorb it,” Goswami said. “If it’s a multi-year hit or a prominent trend, then of course we’ll have to make permanent adjustments to our workforce at SBCC.”
Some landlords from nearby student rental units are struggling to fill their apartments.
"They are feeling the economic impact of our students leaving the area,” Goswami said.
With the approval of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, certain programs which support "essential and critical infrastructure" will be allowed to meet in-person in order to fulfill specific requirements.
“There are some students and there are some programs which need to be hands-on,” Goswami said. “The hands-on activities are very difficult to be done online.”
These classes will be limited and will follow strict health and safety guidelines.
Santa Barbara City College has nine Career Technology Education, or CTE, programs that might meet this exemption. For the next couple of weeks, the college hopes to work out a plan on possible exemptions with the Public Health Department.
“It’s critical because of the needs of our community and of our state,” SBCC Dean of Career Technical Education Alan Price said. “Especially frontline workers and healthcare being a primary example.”
These students may even help fight the battle against COVID-19.
"We're anticipating having approximately 30 nurses and approximately 60 EMTs ready to take their state licensing exams this January,” Price concluded.
The fall semester is set to start on Aug. 24.
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