WHITTIER – Río Hondo College launched the fall 2020 semester on Aug. 17 with an enhanced distance learning model, centering the academic and personal needs of students and supporting educators as they take on the new year.

After intense planning over the summer, Río Hondo College developed a plan that focuses on student feedback and supports learners through an increase in technology resources, academic and mental health counseling, and specialized assistance for student groups.

“We are delighted to offer a robust, comprehensive distance learning plan that will guide us as we continue remote instruction,” Acting Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said. “I would like to thank our entire team of educators, administrators, classified staff and faculty who work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of our students are met and that they have every tool necessary to succeed, regardless of what is happening in our world.”

Educators received professional development trainings with pertinent research and information on engaging students during distance learning and socio-emotional resources to make sure students feel nurtured, safe and valued.

Río Hondo College was recognized by The RP Group Impact & Insights publication for responding in a time of crisis and expertly modeling collaboration that unites a large cross-section of educators.

Led by Río Hondo’s student success team, educators identified three main areas of support: academic, basic and community (the ABCs). The ABCs resource plan initiated an increase in technology resources, including an expanded capacity for Zoom and Canvas lectures.

Students can access Chromebooks, calculators and hotspots from the library check-out service during the first three weeks of the semester and by appointment after Saturday, Sept. 5. Río Hondo also launched its virtual welcome center, complete with Zoom rooms and live chats to support students.

Río Hondo’s website integrated new career and program exploration to provide clear academic paths, including information on each degree and certificate with sample educational plans and timeline of completion for full-time students.

Building on the successes from spring 2020, Río Hondo’s Scholar’s Hub continues to provide students with supportive, trauma-informed and holistic services. The Scholar’s Hub is offering remote resources during fall 2020, including specialized counselors, tutoring, workshops, book grants, educational supplies and advocacy and referral services to community-based agencies and public assistance partners.

The Scholar’s Hub is home to some of the most under-represented and under-served students on campus, including former foster youth (Guardian Scholars), unhoused and housing insecure (HOPE Scholars), formerly incarcerated students (RISE Scholars) and LGBTQIA+ students.

New certificate courses have been added in fall 2020, offering students interested in the field of architecture the opportunity to explore architectural theory and design, architectural drafting and residential architecture design.

For in-person programs such as fire and nursing, personal protection equipment (PPE) is provided for all individuals on site, including masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer.

Through the RioSource plan, drive-thru grab & go groceries will be provided every other week.

The RioSource location center also will be open once a week, enabling students to order groceries using disposable menus and pick up their orders from a designated location to ensure a contact-free experience. Directional signs, distance markers and footprint stickers will help direct shoppers.

During remote instruction, students can access mental health counseling, including individual and group counseling, and referrals to mental health resources. Students can make an appointment by calling 562-463-7302 or emailing dsanchez@riohondo.edu.

If you know of a student who is experiencing a mental health emergency, a few key resources are the following:

• 24-hour Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
• Crisis Text Line: 741741 with the word “COURAGE”
• Exodus Urgent Care Center: 323-276-6400
• LA Department of Mental Health Crisis Counseling: 855-952-9276 or 211

Río Hondo College continues to grow opportunities that support students on their educational paths. The college was awarded two federal TRiO Student Support Service grants, totaling about $ 2.8 million and will be distributed over five years, for the renewal of the TRiO PASS Program and the MESA/TRiO STEM grant. These programs provide comprehensive services such as financial aid and scholarship support and career and academic counseling.