SONORA, Calif. (KTXL) — Columbia College in Sonora has sat nearly empty since the pandemic forced the community college to close down campus last year.
But starting May 3, the small college up in the hills of Tuolumne County will partially reopen to faculty, staff and students for the summer semester.
“This personal touch brings that kind of relationship back to our students and to the service that we provide,” said Interim President Dr. G.H. Javaheripour.
Javaheripour said the school is using the summer as a pilot for fall and is hoping to be a model for other colleges going forward.
“Because the level of emergency and urgency of this pandemic is dropping in particular in our area, it would be a great test bed for our sister colleges across the state to take a look and examine how we’ve done it, the steps we have taken, and be able to open up their doors and their classrooms to their students,” Javaheripour said.
A number of student services like admissions and financial aid will reopen with modifications, along with some in-person classes.
“We’re bringing STEM courses back, biology, chemistry, physics, all of those courses that require lab,” Javaheripour told FOX40. “We’re bringing those back in the summer.”
The student center and library will also reopen, giving students access to more resources and a better internet connection.
“Wi-Fi in our regions is very difficult and very, very spotty,” Javaheripour said. “So, we have had actually expanded our Wi-Fi system into the parking lot, even during the time that we were closed. So our students could come in and park and use the Wi-Fi on campus in order to participate in their classes.”
Javaheripour said the college will follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health department guidelines. The number of people allowed in each classroom will be limited.
Everyone will be required to wear a face mask and fill out a COVID-19 screening form before returning to campus.
“We are taking returning back to school very, very seriously,” Javaheripour said.
Columbia College also intends to bring athletics back starting in the fall, as well as offer flex courses, which would give students the option to attend classes either in-person or online.