orterville College announced on Wednesday it will begin the spring semester next week online. The college announced for at least the first two weeks of the spring semester, which begins Tuesday, all on-campus lecture classes will switch to an online format.

Exceptions will be made for lab portions of classes such as STEMP courses as well as activities that require in-person participation, including athletics, CTE programs, performing arts and clinical rotations. Those activities will continue to be held on-campus.

PC already announced on Monday no spectators would be allowed at PC home men's and women's basketball games for at least two weeks, so no spectators will be allowed at Saturday's scheduled home men's and women's games against Fresno City College.

Habib also wrote when it comes to CTE programs, performing arts and clinical rotations, faculty have the discretion to also transition those programs to a virtual format.

In a letter to students and staff, PC president Dr. Claudia Habib wrote, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Porterville College’s highest priority has been to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for our students and employees.”

Habib wrote the school has been tracking the latest omicron surge in the state and in Tulare County. Over the last 10 days, Tulare County's positive test rate has risen from 6.2 percent to 22.6 percent. The county's case rate has also skyrocketed to 58.6 per 100,000.

Seeing these numbers, it is not surprising that we are experiencing a rise in COVID cases on our campus,” Habib wrote. “Due to the fast spread of the omicron variant, we have decided to exercise extra caution as we begin this new term. To that end, we will minimize risk by transitioning all on-campus lecture classes to an online format for the first two weeks of the semester.”

For classes beginning on Tuesday, students should check their PC email and CANVAS for updates from their faculty.

Habib also wrote student support services, including tutoring, counseling, admissions, records, financial aid, mental health services and ibrary services, will be available online and on a limited basis when it comes to in-person services.

The objective is to continue offering the full range of student support while keeping students, faculty, and staff as safe as possible,” Habib wrote.

PC will still continue the policy in which all those on campus must be fully vaccinated. Individuals with approved exemptions will have to comply with the school's testing requirement.

In her letter Habib also encouraged students and staff to be vaccinated, wear a mask, social distance and be regularly tested even if asymptomatic. “Thank you for continuing to take these essential steps to keep yourself and your community safe,' Habib wrote.

Information on PC's COVID-19 protocols is available at https://www.portervillecollege.edu/important-updates-and-notices 

We are not done navigating these challenging circumstances,” Habib wrote. “Our decision to transition classes to online reflects our continuing efforts to provide the safest educational environment possible. We will remain flexible and continue to adjust in order to meet your needs and support your success.” 

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