Happy Spring! I want to share a few updates with you as we head for the finish line for Spring semester and we prepare to retire at least some of our COVID-era adaptations.
Spring Semester (Now!). Over a dozen programs now have labs or other activities on-campus. Thanks to your compliance with screening and prevention protocols, we’ve managed to bring back 2000 of you for on-campus learning without a single case of transmission on our campus, one of our proudest accomplishments of this last year. Student athletes are back training and competing. The Learning Resource Center is open by reservation for Wi-Fi access and quiet study space. (We also kept our Wi-Fi parking lot open if you prefer the laptop-on-the-steering-wheel thing.) Our Child Development Center is open for childcare. Other student services are all available online and online access for all student supports will remain in place as campus re-opens, because you liked them so much!
Summer. Summer schedule is posted. Most offerings are online, as is usually the case for summer classes, though some labs will be on-campus. I’m a big fan of catching up or getting ahead over the summer session. But I get it…brain rest is important, too.
Fall Semester. Fall is our transition semester from COVID to post-COVID! We aim to accommodate you whether you want to stay online, return to campus, or some combination. Most student services will be available on-campus by reservation, but we will continue all supports online as well, including online Counseling. The fall class schedule is now posted. Approximately 50% of all credit course sections are partly on-campus or on-campus. The rest are online. All programs have on-campus class options except those that were all-online before COVID. Thus, you have on-campus offerings available to you in almost all programs. Courses offering only one section will not have on-campus options, but courses with multiple sections will generally have one or more on-campus sections offered.
We do not yet know which restrictions will be in place on campus in summer or fall, but mask use indoors is likely going to be in force for a while, certainly until clear evidence of herd immunity is reached. If you are not comfortable wearing a mask, it would be best for you to schedule your summer and fall classes all-online, to be safe.
Vaccinations. The State, county and our district have not yet made a decision on whether vaccinations might be mandatory for students on campus…or for some students on campus engaged in learning where mask-wearing and/or social distancing is not possible. There are many good reasons to get vaccinated, including protecting yourself from new, more dangerous variants of COVID (even if you were previously infected) and contributing to herd immunity for our whole community. If you are not planning on being vaccinated, it might be best to schedule your fall classes all-online, in case vaccinations end up being mandated. We will be offering vaccinations to students at our Student Health Center this spring and summer. Watch for messages inviting you to schedule an appointment.
CARMENCEMENT. If you are completing your credential this semester, I hope I’m going to see you at CARMENCEMENT. We’ve designed an event that might actually be even more fun than traditional Commencement. Don’t blow it off because you think you’re too cool for drive-thru graduation ceremonies. You don’t want to spend the next 60 years regretting missing that fun!
Mascot. The Mascot Work Group will be releasing the finalists soon and you will be invited to vote to select Saddleback’s mascot for the next 50 years. Stay tuned here. If you don’t vote and those who do end up picking something lame, it’s on you! No. I’ve seen the finalists; none of them are lame.
Gratitude—mine. Thank you for your patience and grace these last 13 ½ months, as we weathered the pandemic together while we stayed safe, together, and ensured that your learning continued, together. On behalf of the 1600 employees of this college I support, all of whom are your biggest fans and cheerleaders, I thank you for staying on the path while the ground shook, and the hail fell and the wind blew. You are stronger for it.
We are stronger and smarter, too. We’ve learned a lot. We adopted new technology, new ways of teaching, and new ways of supporting you. Now we get to blend the best of those learnings with our proudest traditions and our love of learning and students, to carve out a new post-COVID future at Saddleback. And for those of you who I won’t see at CARMENCEMENT and who will be returning in summer and/or fall, I look forward to welcoming in that post-COVID future with you.
Dr. Elliot Stern
President, Saddleback College