First two days of Spring semester has been challenging for all of us. The lines for testing was long at both campuses, many students were concerned they may not make it to the classes on time, and many faculty members experienced rather empty classrooms when the rosters showed they should have a full classroom. I have talked to many students and parents over the last two days at both campuses and experienced the situation first-hand. Many were confused about the functionality of the app also. As we experienced the long lines for testing, we tried to improvise the plan to enhance our testing capabilities. I will be remiss if I do not mention the commitment from all of you to help our students. I saw the deans at check-in stations, the classified folks, administrators, and faculty members helping students to get on board and treating everyone with grace and poise. We expanded our testing capacities and explored different options to match the supply with the demand. The lines that were snaking out of the testing centers yesterday were much shorter today, we created a more welcoming atmosphere at the East campus with the help of ASMJC, and took quick action to provide chairs for folks waiting in long lines at the West campus.
Until now, we have conducted over 4,000 tests; nearly 3,000 students have been tested so far. This is a significant number as ALL students are being tested to establish a base-line irrespective of their vaccination status. Many students I talked to were vaccinated and were testing at the beginning, only to repeat the testing after eight weeks. On a rough estimate, our face to face classes have nearly 3,100 students. Add the students in hybrid classes and we are looking at testing another 1,000 or so in the next couple of days. Given the trend in the last two days, I am optimistic we will see a continued decline in waiting time for testing in the next couple of days. We are also exploring the options to increase capacity and reduce demand to shave off the wait time. In order to address the issue of malfunctioning of the apps, I am asking all of you to accept the paper verification of proof of vaccination and testing verification. Our goal is to welcome our students in a safe atmosphere, not to look at everyone with suspicion. Any documentation that looks legitimate is welcome! This semester, we have over 1,000 students more than we had in last Spring! Our FTES (Full time equivalent student) is showing an increase of nearly 3% over last year at the same point of time. Let us provide the support our students need and welcome them to their academic journey.
We will keep working on our communication and outreach to get a uniform message to all students. I am optimistic based on the numbers that our wait times will continue to decrease and we will be able to improve the student experience on campus. When talking to some of the students, I realized that although they have been a college student for multiple semesters, this is the first time they are present physically on campus! However shocking it may sound, it is perhaps the reality that we all are going to witness in the near future. As the semester progresses, I would like to converse more with you to develop a student experience that is focused on the future! If you have any suggestion, please let me know. Thank you for all that you are doing for our students!
WE are MJC, the Community’s College! Go Pirates!