Cerro Coso closes campuses and moves classes and services online in response to COVID-19

By: 
Register Staff
Staff Writer

Cerro Coso Community College is much like the rest of the country’s educational institutions, when it comes to the next steps and decisions for its campuses in regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Within the past two weeks alone, the college has been reminded (many times) that nothing is certain and that planning for uncertainty is not easy. 

“It is a challenge to balance preventive measures to avoid escalation and on the other preserving to the greatest extent possible the opportunity for students to complete classes, while maintaining critical learning and student support services,” said Heather Ostash, vice president of Student Services.

Responding rapidly to the health threat associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the college closely monitored the crisis, taking precautions, evaluating thresholds, developing contingencies and staying vigilant to minimize future disruptions to instruction and student services.

Prior to the governor's orders to shelter in place on March 19, Cerro Coso had already suspended classes the week of March 16 - 20 to provide instructors time to shift their on-ground classes into a virtual format. Trainings for students, instructors and staff were already being conducted via alternative delivery modes for both instruction and services.

As conditions for the coronavirus continued to spread rapidly, classes at the college resumed on Monday, March 23, with almost all of its face-to-face classes transitioned into the online environment. Student services (counseling, advising, financial aid, admissions and records) and learning support services (library and learning assistance center) have also been moved over into remote delivery. The college is still maintaining face-to-face instruction in a very small number of courses that are abiding by the Department of Public Health’s protocols for group gatherings and physical distancing. Instruction in the prisons was moved to a correspondence type delivery.

Proctoring has been cancelled for the semester, and a technology needs survey was conducted and the college is working to provide students with the technology they need to take their classes online.

Cerro Coso is now virtually open for students and the community utilizing a variety of formats to communicate including email, telephone, Zoom, Skype for business, and web forms.

“It’s not ideal,” said Ostash, “but it’s necessary. It’s ‘business unusual’ for us all.”

“I’m very proud of how quickly our leadership team, faculty, staff, and students responded and made the transition,” said Cerro Coso President Jill Board. “Knowing that the situation is fluid for us all, we must remain flexible. Above all else, the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and communities will remain our top priority.”

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