Students happy to be back on campus

Photo+courtesy+of+The+Chaparral%2FAndrew+Yzaguirre.+Adjunct+instructor+Lisa+Capozzi+teaching+Introduction+to+Mass+Media+in+SOC+10+on+September+15%2C+2021.

Photo courtesy of The Chaparral/Andrew Yzaguirre. Adjunct instructor Lisa Capozzi teaching Introduction to Mass Media in SOC 10 on September 15, 2021.

Before the fall 2020 semester, College of the Desert announced that some classes would return to in-person instruction with safety measures in place. Students this semester can attend in-person and hybrid classes at the Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Indio campuses and participate in the online classes. Approximately 20% of courses at the college are back to in-person instruction this fall semester.

“I believe that the college has done a good job keeping everyone safe because students are spread out in classes,” said Paola Flores, a student at College of the Desert who is taking a yoga class. There are a limited number of in-person and hybrid classes offered, only 21 of 112 English, 4 of 61 math, 6 of 33 history, and 4 of 32 psychology classes are at least an online-hybrid format. There are many more online options for those students who prefer online learning.

The smaller classrooms benefit students as they can have more time with their professor if needed and are less nervous about asking questions. Noe Abalos, 17, a student enrolled in the in-person Introduction to Mass Media class, said, “I communicate more and have way more motivation when in person than at home.”

Joziaha Winfrey, 21, said, “I must learn in person. It is the best way for me, and the current environments with smaller classes help. I can also spend time with classmates and students.”

According to the Desert Sun, College of the Desert hopes to have the majority of classes to be in person during the 2022 year. Some students do not feel comfortable with classes, possibly moving to 100 percent in person. “I feel that they should work their way up to 100 percent and keep the small classes to allow for students to be spread out,” said Flores.

Walking on the Palm Desert campus during the day is quiet and feels like a night school. As you walk around, you may not see anyone until you get to your class, and even there, it may only be a handful of students.

With reduced class sizes on campus, parking, class communication and meeting new people seem much more relaxed and welcoming for many returning and new students.

Lisa Capozzi, an adjunct instructor who teaches Introduction to Mass Media on-campus said her course typically holds 30 – 35 students. This semester she has just 15. She said the small class size allows students to ask questions freely and express their opinion on a given topic without the added pressure of an entire class.

Photo courtesy of The Chaparral/Andrew Yzaguirre. Osbalado Penaloza taking notes in his Introduction to Mass Media class.

It is not just students that benefit from having classes in person but also some professors. “With having a class in person, I can be spontaneous about what we do, and it allows me to captivate the students more,” said Capozzi. “It is great to have students back on campus and in person. Even though I can see their smiles because of the masks seeing their eyes makes up for it.”

To keep all students safe, the College of the Desert requires everyone on campus to use the Sway app to check for any illness that they may have. They must have their temperature checked and only be allowed in with no symptoms and no fever. Once successfully completed, students will receive a wristband. They also must wear a mask while inside their classrooms or campus buildings. Some students feel the Sway app has flaws that could allow students to get on to campus even when they may have COVID-19 symptoms.

“I think that College of the Desert should use a new app because it puts people at risk if some people don’t comply with the app and lie about how they are feeling okay or not,” said Flores. “Also that students could just buy the wristbands that the security hands out online, adding to the threats that students would impose if they don’t want to follow the safety protocol.”

Protocol checks can cause long lines, wait times and leave people frustrated. “They need to have more entrances because we have to wait too long,” said Winfrey. “Wait times can be at least 15 minutes with cars lined up on Fred Waring during peak times of the day, and during slower times, the process can take as little as a minute.”

With more classes having the possibility of being in person for spring 2022, it remains unclear if College of the Desert will use a different app to allow for better safety and more entrances to allow for quicker check-in times during peak times.