Foothill resumed face-to-face teaching this week, with 3,180 of approximately 11,500 students expected to come to campus in the fall term.
So far, the campus has been largely closed, with the exception of related health programs like respiratory therapy and pharmaceutical technology which have been carried out in person throughout the pandemic, the vice president said. training associate Kurt Hueg. Athletics resumed in May.
Students are now returning to campus for lessons ranging from piano to engineering. This quarter, 18% of teaching is face-to-face, and 9% use both in-person and online components, Hueg said. The rest of the college courses are virtual, with some using live video conferencing, while others are partially or fully asynchronous using pre-recorded conferences.
Even before the pandemic, 51% of Foothill’s registrations were online, said Simon Pennington, associate vice president of college and community relations, marketing and communications.
According to Hueg, the college has a long history of investing in online education, and this accelerated during the pandemic. The goal now is to make physical and virtual spaces attractive.
For Adam Hasmi, a second year Palo Alto High School graduate at Foothill, it’s gratifying to be on campus after a year of absence. Hasmi had her first class in person on Tuesday.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be back,” he said. “I’m so excited to be here (and) to see my comrades. I say hello to everyone.”
Musaab Farooqui also said he’s happy Foothill has reopened. As a 2020 Gunn High School graduate, Farooqui’s final year was cut short by the pandemic and he missed milestones like prom and graduation. The return to a school campus is fantastic, said Farooqui.
“The community atmosphere is finally back,” he said.
While some students are happy to be back, opinions vary. According to a college survey of 915 students in July and August, more than half of students said they were unlikely or unlikely to access in-person services, even if they were enrolled in courses online only.
According to Hueg, some students have no interest in coming to campus and others only want face-to-face instruction, but “the vast majority are looking for a mix.”
“Flexibility is the key,” Pennington added.
For those who return, Foothill has a number of safety requirements in place, including a mandatory mask inside and out, as well as a vaccine requirement. Students have until October 1 to provide proof of their vaccination or request a religious or medical exemption.
As of September 22, about 2,500 students had already uploaded vaccination documents and about 60 had applied for an exemption, Pennington said. This includes students who are partially, but not yet fully, immunized. The rest have until the end of the month to complete the process or they will be removed from their face-to-face classes.
“They know October 1 is the deadline,” Pennington said. “I hope we don’t have to give up students – I desperately hope.”
If students are dropped out, the college offers distance learning courses starting later in the term that they can switch to.
Beyond masking and vaccinations, Foothill also asks students to complete a daily online health questionnaire and tries to put larger classes in the rooms so that students have enough space to spread out.
“We are confident that we can serve our students who are vaccinated and masked and do a very safe job providing face-to-face instruction,” Hueg said.
Engineering and physics instructor Sarah Parikh teaches all of her classes in person this term and said so far she has fully complied with masking and security requirements. The students are doing a “wonderful job,” Parikh said, adding that she had heard no complaints.
“This is the new standard. This is what we are going to do and we are going to make it work,” Parikh said. “Looks like the students are really excited to be back in class.”
She decided to teach on campus this fall because it is more difficult to connect with students and create a sense of community online. Interactive components like labs can also be a challenge.
Foothill gave instructors the option of returning to campus or not. According to Hueg, administrators didn’t think a mandate was realistic given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
“We were really relying on asking professors who wanted to come back to take the lead,” Hueg said. “It really depended on whether the professors felt comfortable doing it. We expect more professors to get involved again in face-to-face teaching in the winter as we demonstrate that this is happening. passes safely and efficiently. “
The Foothill-De Anza Community College district may demand the return of professors in the future, Pennington said, but added that no decision has been made.
The number of classes currently operating on campus varies by department. Classes with more hands-on components, like STEM classes with labs, are the most likely to be back.
“This is the area that is as close to pre-pandemic as anywhere,” Hueg said.
Some English and math classes also returned, along with classes like drama and ceramics.
Christy Belay is taking the theater, set and theater design and piano to campus this term. She is also taking online courses at De Anza College. Belay was originally a student at the University of California at Davis, but moved on to community college during the pandemic because she didn’t think it was worth the money she was paying Davis to just learn online.
Being back on a college campus is strange, Belay said, but she’s happy to be able to take classes in person again.
“It’s much better than being at home for sure,” Belay said. “Actually playing on a piano was really cool.”