FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Central Valley community colleges welcomed students and staff back to campus on Monday for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Students at Fresno City College were welcomed by a new president who will oversee the transformation of the campus.

Fresno City College rolled out the welcome mat for students at its “Ram-Ready” event. There were tours to get them familiar with the campus and counselors on hand to answer last-minute questions. 18-year-old Marissa Rodriguez came with her mom.

“It feels helpful for me because with all the counselors and all these presentations I feel like I’ll know where to go if I need help or anything”.

Coming out of the worst of the pandemic, colleges are working to let students know the staff is back on campus and striving to get learning back to normal. Full-time students are being offered a free voucher from the bookstore to purchase materials.

“Now that we have faculty coming back we also want to make sure that they feel like they belong here. Again, because you know they’ve been gone for over two years working at home or working remotely”, said Dr. Robert Pimentel, president of Fresno City College.

One big issue all colleges are dealing with is the loss of students. Fresno City College is expecting a fall enrollment of about 18,000 students. This is down from a high of 24,000 before COVID-19. Officials say they have strategies to get those students back and are preparing for growth.