Santa Monica College (SMC) will hold a virtual graduation ceremony on June 16, 2020 and its summer session, which begins June 22, will remain remote. Classes and extensive student support services will be provided in remotely accessible environments, as the college seeks to limit the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health and wellbeing of the SMC community. The college—all facilities, five satellite campuses, walkways, and open spaces included—remains closed to the general public, until further notice.

Santa Monica College has rolled out a comprehensive student support network to ensure that students remain on track to achieve their academic and career goals. Nearly 200 students and 191 faculty and staff have been loaned Chromebook laptop computers to date, so that they can access the needed technologies required from home. The college’s continuing free technology lending program—along with the most extensive one-on-one student support network in California including more than 170 career and academic counselors, plus psychologists—is part of a safety net developed to ensure that those who enroll in the 800-plus classes this summer are able to meet their personal goals.

SMC’s online schedule of classes accessible at smc.edu/classes will be updated by Monday, April 20, to reflect the most current information on the hundreds of classes that will be available this summer. For more details on how to enroll, and assistance with the process, go to smc.edu/enroll. SMC Emeritus and noncredit classes will also be delivered remotely.

“Santa Monica College will keep delivering the high-quality education it is known for, in spite of the circumstances,” SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery wrote in a memo to the college community on Tuesday, April 7. She also noted that SMC’s counselors are “one click away” for students. A redesigned counseling webpage gives both new and returning students the ability to find the counselor they need. “Students will be able to live-chat and/or schedule video and phone appointments with counselors who are eager to engage with them, impart information, and provide academic, career and mental health support,” Dr. Jeffery wrote.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jennifer Merlic noted that SMC’s distinguished faculty members, who represent the best in their respective fields, have demonstrated great flexibility and innovation to adopt instructional methods that best enable students to master course content in the remote environment.  “While these circumstances are not ideal, I have absolute confidence that SMC faculty possess both the empathy and the intellectual and creative ability to continue to guide and teach students with the highest standards of educational excellence!”

“As Santa Monica College continues to evaluate the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, it has become apparent that it will be impossible to maintain the safety and health of our graduates and guests in a traditional setting, where thousands gather in Corsair Field,” SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery wrote in the April 7 memo, “therefore we will have a virtual graduation ceremony.”

With input and feedback from student leaders, Santa Monica College is planning a virtual ceremony that “will help make the day as meaningful and special as possible,” Dr. Jeffery wrote. More details on the June 16 virtual celebration are forthcoming.

SMC is inviting the graduates of the Class of 2020 who wish to participate in a traditional ceremony to do so in 2021’s graduation ceremony. The college will still produce a graduation program booklet and mail diplomas to graduates’ homes.

“Without a doubt, graduation day is the highlight of the year for us, but, most of all, for the students who have given so much to achieve their dreams,” Dr. Jeffery wrote. “That walk across the stage, that diploma often represents not just the hard work and sacrifice of the graduates, but also of their family members and loved ones. The decision was not an easy one to make—we did so because the wellbeing of SMC graduates, employees, and guests is our highest priority.”

In addition to continuing to provide high-quality, accessible education and support services in a remote environment, Santa Monica College has also launched a food security program in the form of a drive-thru pop-up pantry to meet the basic needs of students who are unable to access the college’s on-campus food security programs during this time.

Submitted by Grace Smith, Public Information Officer

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