LBCC to hold virtual commencement and change transfer requirements

Graduation for Long Beach City College students will be held virtually this spring, transfer rules are changing and other adjustments will be made as the college navigates a health crisis that officials said has been unprecedented.

The developments were revealed in a virtual town hall Thursday by newly-appointed Superintendent-President Lou Anne Bynum, who has been on the job for a month. She said that the past few weeks have been challenging as the college scrambles to alter plans for students and faculty.

“Our biggest concern is the safety of the faculty and staff and students on the campus,” Bynum said.

The school had planned to bring back faculty by June 8 and students by June 10, but those plans have been canceled as the school has announced that even summer courses are being moved online.

Here are some of the other changes that were discussed during the town hall hosted Thursday.

Commencement

Commencement was scheduled for June 4, but will no longer be taking place, at least in the traditional sense of students and their families packing Veterans Stadium to see graduates cross the stage. This year, the college is offering students a virtual commencement that will be held the same day.

The specifics of how the virtual commencement would be orchestrated were not revealed, but the school’s administrators said that students would also have the opportunity to be invited back for an in-person commencement ceremony in the future once social distancing guidelines are relaxed to the point that large crowds are allowed to gather again.

“We know how important in person is to their families and to our whole community,” Bynum said. “After all its probably one of the most important celebrations we can have and we want to celebrate you.”

Student support

Mike Munoz, the school’s vice president of student services said that LBCC was taking measures to continue helping students in need.

Munoz said that the Viking Vault, the school’s food pantries located at both the Liberal Arts Campus in East Long Beach and the Pacific Coast Campus on PCH would be allowing eligible students to take two bags of groceries from the pantry at the PCC campus starting April 28.

“We’re trying to limit contact by giving out twice as much food at once,” Munoz said.

Munoz also said that the school was able to secure $7 million in federal aid from the recently passed CARES Act that was approved by Congress last month. The money can be used to help students who are struggling to stay enrolled in college, not only through the Spring semester, but possibly through Summer and the Fall, he said.

The school has also increased the amount of available chromebooks it can distribute to students in need now having about 500 additional devices it can checkout. Munoz said the college also has a number of Dell laptops available to students who have particular software requirements for their courses.

“We recognize that if you’re in a family with four students and there’s only one laptop in the house that creates a barrier,” Munoz said. “We want to eliminate those barriers.”

Withdrawing from courses and refunds

Students will have until May 27 to request to be dropped from a course with the withdrawal being excused. Additionally, any student who does withdraw from a course will not have the spring 2020 course count against their course repeatability which typically limits students to three chances to complete a course.

Students who do withdraw from a course and are not receiving financial aid will be eligible for a full refund for both the cost of the course and any associated materials purchased for the course according to Munoz.

Parking passes are also eligible for refunds at a prorated amount of 60%.

Transferring

Munoz said that the Cal State University System has loosened its requirements on course requirements and required grades for students who were in the process of transferring and were impacted by the closure of campuses this semester.

It has expanded the scope of courses they’re accepting with a grade of pass/ no pass to include the “Golden Four”—oral communication, written communication, critical thinking, mathematics—which typically required a grade of “C” or better to be eligible for transfer credits.

Munoz said that other major pre-requisites have also been included. Students have until May 27 to request a pass/no pass grade for courses they’re enrolled in.

The University of California, however, is operating on a “case-by-case” basis according to Munoz. It has suspended its cap of 14 pass/no pass credits to be eligible for transfer but Munoz urged students who may have questions to schedule a meeting with a school counselor to ensure that they’re making decisions that won’t negatively impact their potential transfer to a UC.

The college has created a landing page for student resources during the COVID-19 campus closure and future town hall meetings, as well as a re-air of Thursday’s meeting, can be viewed on the college’s Youtube channel.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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