By Pamela Dean

The majority of CSUCI’s  faculty and staff have been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the campus to switch to mostly online learning in March 2020. But not every job could be done virtually and not every class could be taught online. 

Courses such as science and nursing labs, ceramics and sculpture, and a few performing arts classes continued to be taught in person. And jobs such as groundskeepers, lab technicians, public safety, construction, and some student support services continued to be done on campus.

Out of CSUCI’s approximately 1,300 staff, about 116 continued working on campus, either full or part time, providing essential support services or in-person instruction. In the Fall 2020 semester, CSUCI had 963 students enrolled in 49 in-person classes. In the Spring 2021 semester there were 76 courses and approximately 624 in-person students.

Groundskeeper Martin Montejano has been working on campus the entire time. Last June CSUCI’s staff of 16 groundskeepers was reduced to just six when 10 of Montejano’s coworkers had to stay home to take care of children and family members due to the pandemic. Normally, Montejano is in charge of maintaining the North Quad of the campus, but for about six months he and his remaining coworkers had to cover the entire campus.

Martin Montejano

Groundskeeper Martin Montejano working on campus

“It felt eerie and weird to be on campus without anyone else. I’m used to the foot traffic, to seeing people and jumpstarting my day by saying hello to people,” Montejano said. 

Montejano was happy when his co-workers returned in January.

“It’s good to have my co-workers back. The vibes in the shop got better,” Montejano said. “I missed everyone. We are like family.” 

Airam Flores-Aguilar is a Disability Accommodation and Support Services Analyst. She has been providing on-campus alternative testing services three days a week since
 partial in-person instruction began in Fall 2020. 

Airam Flores-Aguilar

Airam Flores-Aguilar at her desk on campus

“I miss seeing all the students and the staff, building connections and enjoying the beauty of this campus,” Flores-Aguilar said. “Technology has helped my team stay connected and continue serving students since we went virtual, but that in-person connection is definitely missing. I am glad I am able to come to campus and interact, socially-distanced, with students.” 

Instructional support technician Michael Mahoney has been working full time on campus supporting the Microbiology and Medical Microbiology labs.

Mahoney, along with fellow technician Catherine Hutchinson, provide the prep and maintenance work needed to make these labs possible. They perform task such as preparing chemical solutions, setting up equipment, growing bacteria and managing the hazardous chemical and biological waste that is a byproduct of the labs.

Michael MahoneyMichael Mahoney works in campus laboratories

Mahoney has enjoyed the peace and quiet of campus during this time.

“I’m doing the same work, but because there are fewer people, I can use lab space that would normally be occupied as an additional work area. Otherwise, I would usually have to wait for a gap between labs,” he explained. 

An unexpected benefit Mahoney is also enjoying—an increased amount of wildlife sightings.

“Since the campus population is greatly reduced, I’m also seeing more animals like deer, rabbits, and coyotes which used to be a rare event.”

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© Spring 2021 / Volume 26 / Number 1 / Biannual

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