FRC students return Jan. 19 to virtual learning

By Debra Moore

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Feather River College students are on winter break but are scheduled to return to class Jan. 19. For the most part, they will return to instruction as they left it — virtually.

During the FRC board meeting earlier this month, Derek Lerch, the dean of instruction, and Carlie McCarthy, who heads student services, outlined for trustees what students should expect.


While most classes will remain online only, some in-person classes will be held, primarily labs. “It’s how to return them to campus as safely as possible,” Lerch said. “We’re limited on how we can resume face-to-face instruction.”

To do that Lerch plans to stagger the returns over a four-week period. As outlined during the meeting, EMT and nursing students would return Jan. 19, while agricultural labs are set for Feb. 1, and other labs including biology, chemistry, culinary and more would resume Feb. 16.

Key to returning students to campus is adequate testing. Last fall, Plumas District Hospital brought the testing to campus, but now that testing has ramped up overall, the students will be taken to PDH. McCarthy said that the college is investigating other types of testing as well.

The college hopes to duplicate the success it had the first semester, which Lerch said was attributable to “tremendous foresight and luck.” McCarthy pointed out that not one coronavirus case occurred in campus housing. Though 10 students did test positive — none were associated with the dorms, and some had tested positive before the onset of instruction.


Trustees acknowledged the efforts of staff to prevent the spread of coronavirus on campus. “I applaud that no students in the residence halls contracted the virus,” Trustee John Sheehan said.

Despite the success of minimizing spread of coronavirus among students, Student Trustee Angelina Wilson said that the online learning has been difficult. “A lot of students who didn’t get on-campus classes felt really isolated,” she said. “We need to reach out to them in a virtual format.”

Lerch thanked Wilson for the input. Both he and McCarthy said it was difficult to build and maintain engagement with students virtually, but efforts would continue.