PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- The new Kaiser Permanente medical school in Pasadena opened its doors to faculty and students for the first time Monday, with free tuition through 2024.
The Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine opened for its inaugural class of 50 students in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which officials say presents "unparalleled challenges."
The pandemic has forced the school to make adjustments, including adopting a "hybrid model" that includes in-class and virtual programs and more frequent cleaning, Walter Harris, the school's senior vice president of administration and finance, told City News Service. He said some classes could be held with some students in one classroom and others watching from another classroom via Zoom.
The school has waived tuition, fees and disability insurance for students entering through the fall of 2024, and students in those classes will receive a waiver for the cost of a health plan from Kaiser Permanente unless they have an equivalent health plan, according to the school's website.
The four-story, state-of-the-art building could accommodate twice as many students, which easily enables physical distancing, Harris said.
Students have been advised they need to wear face masks, and the school will have plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes available, he added.
None of the students objected to the school opening as scheduled, according to Harris, who said they are "very excited to get their medical careers started."
The school includes an anatomy resource center in which traditional cadaver dissection will be replaced with newer methods that are more clinically relevant, along with a rooftop garden with a meditation, yoga and fitness area for student and faculty "wellness."
Students are set to begin interacting with patients during their third week of school and to learn from Kaiser Permanente physicians and care teams at six of its medical center campuses, including Los Angeles, West L.A. and Downey.
City News Service contributed to this report.