Santa Barbara County’s move into red tier opens options for Westmont


Ella Jennings

The red tier may allow some Westmont classes to move indoors.

Maddy Simonsen, Staff Writer

On March 16, Santa Barbara County moved into the less-restrictive red tier of the governor’s reopening plan. As a result, Westmont College anticipates opening up slightly by allowing limited spectators at sporting events and certain classes offered indoors at 25 percent capacity.

Doug Jones, the Vice President for Finance at Westmont College, shared that “the red tier does provide us the ability to do a bit more than was allowed in the purple tier.” He maintained that “the county has allowed higher education institutions to have indoor classes at 25 percent capacity” starting on March 25. Because of this change, Jones stated that the college “anticipate[s] shifting some classes indoors as early as next week.” Jones emphasized that Vice Provost Patti Hunter and Michelle Hardley, the registrar, have been developing a plan to determine which classes can move indoors.

However, some professors do not want to move indoors. Dr. Charles Farhadian, a professor of world religions and Christian mission at Westmont College, stated that he will remain online through the end of the semester. Farhadian maintained that he has taught all of his courses online since last March because of COVID-19. While he emphasized that in-person learning is preferable to online learning and that an in-person experience enhances learning, he will not shift his classes to an online format because he desires to prioritize learning stability and predictability. He shared that “for instance, some of my students would not be able to join us in a classroom setting, so we would then be forced to use a hybrid method of learning.”

Throughout the semester, Westmont College has worked with healthcare providers to vaccinate its faculty and staff, further increasing the safety of learning and teaching in person. Jones shared that “Sansum Clinic has held two shot clinics for Westmont faculty and staff in recent weeks and a number have gotten the vaccine through other means.” Because of these efforts, Jones stated that “we estimate we have approximately 85 percent of faculty and staff who have received at least one dose of the vaccine and many are fully vaccinated.” While Sansum cannot currently provide dedicated shot clinics for students of Westmont College, individuals can get the vaccine through other providers.

Jones also referenced Governor Newsom’s recent announcement that vaccines will be available to anyone 16 or older beginning April 15. The Westmont administrator acknowledged that it will take time for everyone who wants the vaccine to receive it because of the large number of individuals in the category, but “this is very positive news.” 

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