Image from Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District website.

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District announced Monday that all but a few classes will continue to be taught remotely through spring 2021, joining the San Diego Community College District and Palomar College in concerns over in-person teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lynn Neault, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, cited health experts’ concerns about a potential spike in COVID-19 as the flu season approaches. As with the current fall semester, intersession and spring 2021 classes will include a limited number of on-campus classes that are difficult to deliver remotely, particularly career education and laboratory classes.

The district is currently deciding which additional spring 2021 classes need to be taught in person but can also meet safety protocols, such as physical distancing and regular sanitizing. The district is also looking into providing limited student support services on its Grossmont College and Cuyamaca College  campuses if public health conditions permit, Neault said.

“We all miss the vibrancy of our campuses filled with students, but we must first consider the extent to which we can open our campuses while ensuring our students and employees are protected,” she said.

Neault noted more than 1,100 faculty members and other employees at both El Cajon colleges have been approved to provide online and remote learning.

Both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are accepting student applications for emergency grants funded by the $5 million the campuses collectively received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, along with grants from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.

Additionally, both colleges have held food and laptop distributions to address basic needs and technology challenges facing community college students. Wi-Fi hotspots will be opening at both campuses Sept. 28 to assist students who have difficulty accessing the internet from their homes.

Neault said one high point during the last six tumultuous months has been the increase in enrollment in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise, the program that provides two years of free tuition to first-time college students attending full-time. More than 2,700 promise students are currently enrolled, compared to 1,949 last year.

The San Diego Community College District announced last Wednesday that City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, as well as the San Diego Continuing Education Program, would remain online only through spring 2021. Palomar College followed with a similar message on Friday.

— City News Service