SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – Santa Rosa Junior College announced Thursday that most learning and student services would continue remotely through at least summer 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“While I do not make this decision lightly, it is clear to me that the current infection and mortality rates in Sonoma County are far too high to consider a full return to face-to-face instruction,” school president Frank Chong said Thursday, one day after classes began for the Spring semester.

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The school president said he made the decision in consultation with the school’s board of trustees, faculty, the chancellor of the California Community Colleges and Sonoma County’s health officer. Chong also cited the experience of other colleges and universities that had a rise in cases after resuming in-person learning too early as a factor in his decision.

Chong said, “The safety of our students, employees and community members remains the top priority at SRJC and we look forward to the day when we can come together again, we will not risk the health and wellness of our community to do so.”

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As of Wednesday, the Sonoma County Health Department said there have been 24,184 cases of COVID-19 and 242 people in the county have died since the start of the pandemic.

The school also announced that mass gatherings on campus would also be on hold for the foreseeable future, including the 2021 commencement ceremony, which would be held in a virtual format.

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Chong said a decision on the fall semester has not been made yet and more information would be provided sometime in March.