It may officially be the summer break for area schools, but the learning is far from over for students.
After an unconventional spring semester where learning took place at home, online learning continues with summer classes at Bakersfield College, Cal State Bakersfield and the Kern High School District.
Summer school enrollment has increased over the past year at both higher education institutions, officials reported.
Mike Giacomini, vice president of financial and administrative services for British Columbia, said enrollment had increased by 10%, with more than 14,000 students applying for one or more courses.
There are several reasons for this increase. For the thousands of people locally left unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many “want to go back to school and upgrade their skills,” Giacomini said.
He added that the college has also increased the number of eight-week course offerings, which appear to have attracted more students.
Almost all of the courses are conducted online except for 26 courses, which are in a hybrid model. Face-to-face classes are limited to those that require specialized equipment or skill demonstrations to complete the course.
“You cannot learn to draw blood or to virtually insert a needle,” said Giacomini, “you need this hands-on experience.”
Various security protocols are in place for students on campus.
Students can still register for courses. British Columbia Website www.bakersfieldcollege.edu has instructions for registration and information about available courses.
Likewise, CSUB is seeing an enrollment increase of 21% over last year, according to Jennifer Patino, director of vocational and continuing education programs. The summer of 2019 saw around 2,300 registrations, including students who took more than one course. This year, approximately 2,780 students are enrolled.
CSUB also increased its course offering, from 106 last year to 131 this summer, which helped increase enrollment, Patino said.
“I also think that with COVID-19 many think they are stuck at home, what can they do? Why not take out a class or two when you have a little time,” she said. added.
Since the spring semester has gone completely virtual, Patino was concerned that enrollment would be lower because students would want to take a break from online learning, but “we were pleasantly surprised by this.”
CSUB’s course offerings are completely virtual this summer. For classes with labs, such as biology or chemistry, teachers use the Zoom video app.
On the high school front, KHSD has seen a drop in enrollment this year. There are around 9,000 students currently enrolled in the summer school, 4,000 fewer than last summer, according to an email from Ryan Geivet, director of education.
This is in part the result of a reduction in course offerings. Last year, a total of 648 sections were available in the summer, according to a presentation from the district. At the May 4 board meeting, directors voted to offer up to half of last year’s capacity.
Associate Superintendent of Education Brenda Lewis recommended a smaller summer course offerings due to budget issues and low student engagement in distance learning during the spring semester.
Seventeen sections would be offered on each school site and eight and a half courses would be available. Courses for graduates, newcomers, freshmen and second year students looking to progress would be prioritized.
âDuring the first week of the summer school, the school site administration and counseling staff worked to fill all the classes,â Geivet said in an email.
Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.