De Anza athletes and auto tech students return to campus


Kevin V Nguyen

De Anza as it begins Phase II of its reopening plan.

After more than 15 months of remote learning, De Anza College students in Athletics, Creative Arts, and Design and Manufacturing Technologies are back on campus for Phase II of De Anza’s campus reopening plan.

Although the campus remains almost empty, there are signs of life.

Student athletes have returned to the fields and PE Quad in controlled “pods” of 12 to 25 people (depending on the sport) once they passed screening requirements, checked in with the outdoor receptionist and continued with social distancing and mask-wearing.

Signs about coronavirus plastered to a bathroom door at De Anza

Athletics director Kulwant Singh estimates that over 220 student-athletes have checked in as of the second week of May. Before the March 2020 shutdown, the department managed over 400.

“Things are going really smooth,” said Singh, who oversees the department’s phased return. “The athletes, our coaches and our staff are just happy to see each other. It’s been very positive for us — you can feel a bit more normal.”

Singh said that Phase II is just a start. Returning students do physical conditioning without access to gyms, locker rooms and most equipment.

Jeffrey Sampson, a first-year journalism major and prospective running-back for the football team, had only experienced De Anza College virtually before the campus reopening plan. He said going in person felt surreal.

“Stepping onto the field almost didn’t feel right at first because we’ve been away for so long,” Sampson said. “My favorite part is being on a team again, especially since I don’t know too many people here. I missed forming and having bonds with teammates.”

A-72 workshop at De Anza

Debbie Nguyen, a nursing student who started Health Tech classes this spring, said coming back onto campus provided a much needed change of pace.

“I was scared of returning at first, but now I’m used to it and it feels refreshing,” Nguyen said. “It is good to get outside of the house and be able to go to school again.”

Marjorie Libran, an English major and employee at the campus bookstore, has been on campus throughout the shutdown. She and her colleagues continued to ship books to students and manage inventory and teacher requests.

As she sets off to San Jose State University after this quarter, she said that it is unfortunate that she won’t see De Anza completely back to normal.

“The entire campus is amazing, the way it’s designed makes it feel nature-y and peaceful” Libran said. “As an international student, a lot of other schools seem to only care about your money. But here, there was always someone who wanted to help.”