A lot has changed at Rio Hondo College since Spring 2020

A lot has changed at Rio Hondo College since Spring 2020. The obvious COVID-19 pandemic altered how Rio Hondo College operates. And students were had to adapt and be content with not being able to get a more personal college experience, at least for a while.

Río Hondo College Spring 2020

Following the United States government’s declaration of a national emergency, on March 16, the Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees declared a state of emergency. As planned days earlier, the College efficiently moved all its courses online for the first time that Monday. Everything else followed it, including counseling and tutoring services. 

The move to online learning was only supposed to be for over three weeks, one of which was spring break. But it was just ten days before Rio Hondo College pushed the date back to May 9. Consequently, before we knew it, five whole semesters passed. We were still mostly sitting at home on a diet of Zoom calls and isolation during the school week.

New Leadership and Stalled Events

But during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new and returning Superintendent/President of Rio Hondo College stepped into office, Teresa Dreyfuss. 

Dr. Arutro Reyes who was in office when the pandemic began. He was put on leave by Rio Hondo College in July 2020. He officially resigned by the end of the year. The events transpired after accusations of fraud were reported by Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News and the Southern California News Group.

Besides the changes in learning and leadership, Rio Hondo College had to stall upcoming events. The fundraiser, “A Taste of Rio,” has been on hiatus for three years since 2019. 

The fundraiser is part of the Rio Hondo College Foundation’s mission to raise financial support for the College and its students. The Foundation accepts donations through its website. “A Taste of Rio” will return on June 17, 2022.

Rio Hondo College Gives Back During the Pandemic

But during that period, between 2020 and 2021, Rio Hondo College also stepped up by offering a weekly food pantry for students, computers and internet services, housing, and financial assistance to students. Recently, the College received over $28 million in relief funds. Part of that went to assisting students to pay their tuition.

The College also continued to make its support of undocumented students and other minority students an integral part of its overall COVID-19 response. For example, in Dec., the College partnered with Whittier College to house a limited number of students.

In addition, despite a global pandemic, Río Hondo College’s Fire Crew 77 assisted in several fires in California and outside of the State between 2020 and 2021.

El Paisano Media Continues Publishing

While in the Rio Hondo College newsroom, publishing never halted. Until her recent hiatus, El Paisano Media continued to publish print and digital stories under the guidance of Wendy Carerra. Carerra is affectionately, best known as La Profe by her pupils. 

But as the semesters passed, so did the transition of Editor-in-Chiefs and other editors. For digital, Lorenzo Acre was Editor-in-Chief for multiple semesters. Ryan Leon has recently taken over the role. For the print newspaper, Raymond Luna had the position previously. In addition, Jasmine Soria has currently been in charge of print operations for two semesters.

Naturally, with a possible never-ending global pandemic taking place outside, the change of times was quickly realized by the ever-changing cycle of reporters that have the opportunity to write for El Paisano. 

The Stories

In Feb. 2020, a month before the pandemic began in our local and national communities, Vincent Franco wrote the story “Coronavirus Rapid Spread through the Internet.” Franco is the first person who reported on COVID-19 at El Paisano.

On March 15, Jesus Marquez reported the cancellation of Rio Hondo College sports. One month later, Marquez later wrote about the slight improvement in air quality during that first pandemic month.

One year later, Luna shared his personal experiences during that first Pandemic year in “Life: One year into Covid.” Apr. 2, 2021. It was a reminder of all that had changed. Later that year, Leon questioned, are “Vaccine Mandates: Good or Bad?” Then, Leon examined the differences between “Online vs. In-Person Learning.”

In addition, the multimedia section of El Paisano released several videos about the changes in education, quarantine, and more between April and May 2020. Suddenly, the backdrop of the videos changed. The setting moved from the Rio Hondo College campus and other places to being filmed from students’ homes and rooms.

Two Semesters Back at Rio Hondo College

Many students really only know the post-pandemic era of Rio Hondo College. But many also remember how it was before the pandemic, including the first few weeks before school went online when you panicked as soon as somebody sitting nearby sniffled, sneezed, or coughed.

The Rio Hondo College campus reopened to students in the 2021 Fall semester. Some classes resumed, but many also stayed online through Zoom meetings or Canvas.

The school had to adapt and almost immediately rearrange its leadership at the same time. But it also stepped up in several integral ways to assist students of all backgrounds. Last year, the College even hosted a drive-thru graduation ceremony dubbed a CARmencement ceremony.

This Spring semester, Rio Hondo College continued to host in-person art, culture, music, dance, and theater events for students like in the previous Fall semester.