SALINAS VALLEY — Students returned to in-person classes in South Monterey County as Hartnell College reopened two facilities to welcome them for their first day of class on Aug. 30.
The King City Education Center was expanded with new, larger classrooms during a pandemic shutdown, and the new Soledad Education Center was also completed during the pandemic.
Class offerings are minimal for in-person instruction, as the college wants to maintain pandemic safety guidelines of social distancing space, and indoor infection reduction measures, such as hand sanitization and check-in policies.
Many of Hartnell’s classes are online or offered in a hybrid model.
Hartnell recently offered registration fairs through the month of August to assist students with beginning their college journeys at the community college level, with two sessions each in King City and Soledad, covering such topics as financial aid and the steps of registering for classes.
“These registration fairs are the starting point for students’ educational journeys,” said Mostafa Ghous, dean of academic affairs for South County Educational Services.
The South Monterey County locations made Hartnell classes available locally rather than having to travel to the main campus or Alisal campus, both in Salinas.
“The community members voted for Measure T and identified a need in South County for a center because a lot of students were having to travel to the main campus that was just spending a lot of traveling time to Salinas,” said Ana Gonzalez, director of Soledad Education Center. “… So we’re hoping that this will benefit the community.”
The 16,750-square-foot Soledad center, completed this spring, holds classes for the first time this fall, offering eight courses in four subject areas — English, English as a Second Language (ESL), history and administration of justice.
The King City center, now doubled in size to 25,000 square feet, will offer nine classes — in chemistry, computer science, English, ESL, music and political science.
Hartnell is also adding a third education center to its offerings, currently under construction in Castroville.
Hartnell Governing Board President Erica Padilla-Chavez, who represents District 6, which includes Soledad, said this fall’s course offerings in Soledad and King City are just the start of what the college has planned.
“We will steadily ramp up the class schedules and enrollment at both centers as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and return to in-person learning,” Padilla-Chavez said.