Spring 2021 will be conducted online with select exceptions for essential industry classes

The spring 2021 semester is officially online, with some exceptions for essential industry and hard-to-convert classes, at El Camino College.

According to an email announcement from ECC president and superintendent Dena Maloney, essential industry classes will only be held if allowed by public health officials for Los Angeles County and the state of California.

Jean Shankweiler, vice president of academic affairs at El Camino College, explained that the college must follow Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order for what essential industry programs are.

Shankweiler said that those programs would begin this fall in the second 8 weeks of the semester, including essential healthcare, public safety and manufacturing programs. Administrators will discuss these same decisions for the next fall semester in February.

Shankweiler added that El Camino College is also emphasizing student support this spring through the Laptop Loan Program.

“Students that need them will get them right as classes start,” she said. “I’m hoping that will help students, you know, be more confident about taking classes and then get settled in right away.”

Academic Senate President Darcie McClelland explained that the ECC administration made their decision for the spring semester based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders, the concerns of students, and faculty and staff.

“This was not an easy decision. Our campus leadership agonized over this,” McClelland said.

She elaborated that the community college surveyed students, faculty and staff for their opinions on returning to campus in the spring. Many responded with concerns about the campus infrastructure’s regular sanitation, personal protective equipment allocation, and social distancing.

“We had some really honest and difficult conversations because it wasn’t easy for any of us to decide to go online, but we just felt it was the right thing to do given the circumstances,” she said.

McClelland also said the El Camino College Library offers student support services in different ways, including learning resources, comprehensive tutoring, and Canvas assistance.

She added that the library’s website had over 18,000 views in the first week of the semester and over 1,700 on the first Saturday of the semester.

McClelland said that the college is working to improve descriptions for classes during spring registration to clarify class expectations. She also reiterated Maloney’s goal to implement hard-to-convert courses next semester.

“I would hope that as the level of emergency goes down, and people start to feel safer, then we might start to be able to have some people on campus for spring. That’s just a hope of mine, it’s not anything that’s in the works at this point,” she said.

According to McClelland, enrollment at El Camino College is down 13% this semester, over 2,000 students less than last year.

Michi Mao, a business major at ECC, feels overwhelmed by her 12 units of online coursework and misses the traditional, in-person college experiences.

“I don’t feel productive at all,” she said. “I miss going to, like, boba shops or coffee shops, and doing homework.”

Mao will begin her fourth class in October and hopes to eventually transfer to The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) following her passion for interior design, all the while coming to terms with the likelihood of another semester virtually.

“Online school is much harder than in person, and I feel like it shouldn’t be that way,” she said.