Campus closures bring challenges and uncertainty


The Chaparral

COD campus empty on a March 16, Monday afternoon.

Bruno Lopez-Vega, Staff Reporter

A few weeks ago, the closing of College of the Desert campuses seemed unlikely; an overreaction to a virus seen by many young students to be a bad case of the flu.

But as many students are now well aware, this became the reality on Saturday, March 14 when students and staff received emails announcing that the Riverside County Public Health Department had ordered all educational facilities to be closed.

The rumors were present early the week of March 9, as districts began to shut down their campuses in response to the Coronavirus outbreaks throughout the United States.

Some students discussed it dismissively while others saw it as a very real possibility. More informed staff members and educators prepared to migrate online.

As the week went on, students were inundated with a barrage of announcements in response to waves of campus closings.

First, COD increased the frequency and potency of campus sanitation. Then, emails were sent out that teachers would be given the option to migrate to online teaching, and by Saturday, the news was confirmed; COD campuses will close and classes must migrate online.

Schools across Southern California and the United States, have now completely closed for varying periods. College of the Desert, as of the time of this publication, will be closed from March 16 to April 30.

The student reaction has been mixed.

Most accepted the move as a logical and necessary precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. Others looked at the bright side initially.

“Now I don’t have to worry about my speech. That was my initial reaction,” said student Roberto Davalos.

But the initial burst of excitement soon gave way to anxiety and frustration. As Davalos mentioned, certain classes that either necessitates in-person interaction or use of special tools and facilities have been hit hard by the online-only transition.

Classes are expected to be online ready by March 30, and many classes such as Public Speaking need at least a week to figure out how to move to online.

“Some of my classes already used canvas, but most are still entering a transitional phase,” said COD student Pierce Gregor, “Like for some of my classes, we can’t do anything for the next week or so because of the transition process.”

Some classes simply cannot make the transition smoothly.

KCOD show production has screeched to a halt as student DJ’s are barred from using the station. The Chaparral also cannot compile its physical paper without the use of these facilities and stories are relegated to online only.

Science labs and classes programs tools and shops such as automotive and air conditioning departments are also greatly disadvantaged by the change.

The announcement blindsided many, and the switch in format was not a welcome one.

“I was rather disappointed when the school closed, as it meant that we would have to transition to online classes and I hate online classes,” said student Ashwin Chakraborty. “I feel like I’m going to get a sub-par education, not because of the professors, but because of the medium of the class itself.”

But for the most part, students are just hanging in there and hoping they can ride out the storm until the end of the semester, and hopefully, the pandemic will be brought under control.

For now, COD is still figuring itself out in a time of panic and confusion. But it is important to learn to adapt to the changes brought on by the virus outbreak and not let it get the best of people.

The Chaparral will continue to inform the COD student body and faculty on new developments.