“It was eerie! Almost like the opening scene of ‘28 Days Later’!” said Writing Support Center (WSC) faculty member Giselle Miralles.

“Twenty Eight Days Later” is a 2002 film dealing with the aftermath of an accidental release of a deadly virus on the deserted streets of London. That is what Miralles was reminded of the first time she reported to work after PCC’s announcement on Mar. 14 concerning the temporary suspension of on campus classes.

From the environment on and off campus to the method and manner in which jobs are done, COVID-19 has had a profound effect, not only on PCC students, but also on staff and faculty. As classes and school resources have been moved online, PCC employees are doing their best to adapt to this new reality.

This situation has created a number of challenges for PCC employees. Among these are getting used to being off campus and learning how to work from home.

For Pathways First Year Experience (FYE) Coach Anthony Espinoza, the change in his daily routine has been his biggest challenge. He is used to being out and about, not stuck at home. It is very different for him to not be in the academic environment with the rest of the Pathways FYE staff, but the goal of communicating with students remains the same.

Sometimes, adversity forces you to be creative. Such has been the case in the WSC, where a remote tutoring program was created for students who need writing help.

“The cool thing about this is that students can meet with a tutor one-on-one live through Canvas,” said Miralles. “It’s also a good way for the tutors to recoup some of the hours they may have lost due to the change. Students can sign up for an appointment through the [WSC’s] home page.”

Espinoza noted that he and other coaches have found alternative methods of meeting with their students in the absence of face-to-face meetings. He is now communicating with his students via Zoom, Google Hangout, phone, email and Canvas.

Adjunct Counselor Rosa Chen from the Counseling Office is part of a team that is working hard to provide counseling services remotely. She and her associates are used to working in a busy office with lots of interaction with staff and with students. Being on an empty campus is a new experience for them, Chen said.

When the change to remote services was announced, the Counseling Office had three days of meetings and training sessions preparing to make the transition as smooth as possible.The counseling department is now able to deliver its services either by phone or by scheduling an appointment. There is also a team of counselors dedicated to answering email inquiries.

No one knows for sure when life at PCC will return to some semblance of normal.

“Socially, everything feels different,” said Espinoza. “Initially, we were told that services and classes would resume on April 20 but the final decision has not been made and we have not been notified of a date to return.”

It was announced on Monday, however, by PCC Superintendent/President Erika Endrijonas that the campus closure has been extended through the end of the Spring semester.

In the meantime, some employees are trying to look for the silver lining. Miralles is taking advantage of the additional time at home to take her dog for walks and to reach out to friends that her busy schedule does not always allow time for.

“While there are a lot of changes to my daily life, not all of them are bad,” said Miralles.

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