SRJC extends remote learning through the spring semester

Recently, the SRJC announced they would extend their remote, online learning through the spring semester: we interviewed several students to view differing opinions regarding the decision.

Rachel Gauer and Jake Dietlin

On August 27, the Santa Rosa Junior College formally announced that, due to the continuing coronavirus risks, they plan to extend their remote learning instruction throughout the spring semester of 2021. To ensure that students and staff remain safe and healthy, Frank Chong, president of the SRJC, concluded in his written announcement that remote learning is currently the best option. Though the decision lies almost five months before the launch of the spring semester, Chong writes that the early decision will give “a small bit of certainty during this uncertain time” and allow all involved to make their arrangements for the semester in a timely fashion.  

Like many of my peers, I really miss in-person classes. On the other hand, I realize that the current global situation won’t be going away anytime soon.”

— Andrew Engel

The overall reaction to this announcement is jumbled: though some deem it practical and the safest option, others are troubled by the premature call. Several students affiliated with the school share the benefits and drawbacks regarding the decision; they describe how the extension of online learning will impact their education and junior college experience.

Kendall Spencer, a 2020 alumnus and a first-year SRJC student, believes the action is prematurely determined: 

“I don’t think that SRCJ’s choice to extend distance learning though the spring semester was a good decision. Staff at the school made the call too early: they should have waited longer to see the progression of California’s case numbers and any progress made on a vaccine,” said Spencer. Spencer’s remote learning experience thus far has not been positive. Because she is a STEM major, it is difficult for her to get adequate math and science experience without hands-on learning. 

“I know that I do not learn math or science well over a computer, so I have decided to delay taking those classes until I am able to go back in-person,” said Spencer. Although it was her personal decision to delay her courses to receive traditional education later, she now has fallen behind other STEM students who are enrolling in in-person classes at other schools. 

Though remote learning has negatively impacted Spencer, other students consider it a positive and more accessible way of learning. Suparna Kompalli, a senior, has taken dual-enrollment and summer courses through the SRJC for the last four years. She has continued to enroll in them after the switch to remote learning. Kompalli views the extension of remote learning positively: 

“I think it was a good decision for the safety of everyone who goes to the JC. Because so many JC classes are already online, it is not a huge change for the professors themselves,” said Kompalli. She also notes that her enrollment options have expanded because she no longer needs to limit herself to the conveniently-located Petaluma campus. 

“I prefer [remote] learning because it’s easier for me to do [the courses] from home. Some classes that would have been at the Santa Rosa campus instead of Petaluma are easier for me to access now,” said Kompalli. 

For Andrew Engel, a freshman at the SRJC, the academic impact is not the only burden he has faced since the shift to remote learning: as a runner for the Bear Cubs, the SRJC’s cross country team, Engel has lost his regular running season. Engel describes the effects the recent decision will have on his cross country team. 

“Our fall cross country season has been postponed and is supposed to start in January 2021 with a minimal number of local meets,” said Engel. 

The limited number of local meets will reduce interaction between the athletes and still allow runners to get some racing experience. Engel’s season will be modified, according to state laws regarding activities that have a COVID-19 risk. Though the virus and remote learning have both academically and athletically affected Engel’s life, he sees the cautionary measures’ logic:

The decision’s mixed reactions are inevitable; however, only time will tell whether the decision was a premature call or a trailblazer for schools in the area.