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Santa Monica College Kicks Off Fall Semester Online

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By Lookout Staff

September 1, 2020 -- Santa Monica College kicked off its Fall semester Monday with nearly 3,000 classes conducted mainly online, as the school's six campuses remain closed with few exceptions due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Of the 2,868 online classes offered, 2,042 are "asynchronous," allowing students to choose the time that works best for their schedules, SMC officials said.

Only nursing and respiratory therapy practicum courses will take place "on-ground in full compliance with current public health, safety, and social distancing requirements," officials said.

Professors, counselors, and support staff have adapted to the online environment "thanks to a massive professional development effort," said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President.

“We begin the Fall 2020 semester online, due to a pandemic that necessitated a swift transition earlier this year and continues to affect all our lives,” Jeffery said in a statement.

"Recognizing the challenges and hardships many students face, SMC continues to ensure as much assistance as possible outside the [for now, virtual] classroom to help them get to the finish line.”

The school will offer an "intensive" counseling and student support network with more than 170 counselors considered the most comprehensive in California, officials said.

"Santa Monica College has engaged in a comprehensive redesign of the student experience, resulting in the wide array of academic options being arranged into 'Areas of Interest,'" school officials said.

"The college’s career counselors work alongside academic counselors to prepare tailored plans of study based on a student’s career of choice."

In addition, there is a designated Wi-Fi area for enrolled students, remote telehealth services, a free Chromebook loaner program and "basic needs assistance" that includes a weekly pop-up drive-thru food pantry.

The pantry offers enrolled students who are in need bags of groceries and food items donated by sponsors that include the Westside Food Bank, Vicente Foods, Sunrise Produce and Suja Juice.

SMC received $6.1 million through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act and the HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund) "to ease the hardship of students who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19," school officials said.

To date, the college has distributed $2.6 million in one-time checks to nearly 5,000 students, officials said.

The remainder of the funds will be distributed throughout the fall semester to those with verifiable needs.

The college was also awarded an equal amount of $6.1 million to cover costs related to the transition to an online environment, school officials said.

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