March 13, 2020
Thank you to the 140+ folks who joined the Zoom briefing yesterday! To provide you with the latest update on our response to the Coronavirus and answer your questions,I will have a20-minute Zoom-briefing every dayat 9:30 am (starting today). The briefing may also behelpful for all employees who will soon be working virtually.
Now that we know we will be moving to a ‘virtual campus’ on Monday, I wanted to reach out again and thank everyone for their can-do attitude and commitment to our students. This is an unprecedented situation, but we are adapting. Our students deserve nothing less.
The key is flexibility.
The Instructional Continuity plan will be in place to guide us from Monday onward. The goal is to mitigate the impact of going virtual and enablingall students to both finish their classes successfully and still have access to the support services they rely on. Thank you to all the instructors who have already reached out to their students to make arrangements for next week. We will need to be flexible and responsive to our students’ needs.
Faculty: you can go to ourwebsite to find the emails we have been sending to students. Thank you to the faculty who are also reaching out to students with information!
Regarding our college’s suspension of travel and mass gatherings from now to April 30, we will assess in April whether such suspensions need to be extended. We will resume travel and gatherings in the spring as soon as it is deemed advisable by public health officials.
It is impossible to predict exactly how long we will need to be a virtual campus, but we are planning under the assumption that this outbreak may last well into April and possibly May. Thus, we need to plan for the worse and hope for the best, with our plan providing for as much “flexibility” as possible to easily convert back.
As Chancellor Minor wrote, “We will continue with alternate methods for the last two weeks of the current quarter, March 16-27, and into the start of the spring quarter, which begins April 6.” The start of the spring quarter will be one of those check-points on whether we need to continue being a virtual one. We will also resume face-to-face instruction in the spring as soon as we can. I had mentioned in my last communiqué that we will go virtual for the rest of the academic year; please know that we are planning for that possibility as we set up the schedule (with as much flexibility as possible to convert back, if so desired) while assessing the situation daily, weekly to make changes. The use of the term “virtual” campus (versus “online”) is also to provide for that flexibility on methods of instruction.
The Student Services team is preparing to offer many essential services virtually including counseling, psychological services, financial aid, and tutoring, among others. Many serviceswill all be available by Zoom or phone. For accommodated testing, the expectation is for instructors to build extra time into their virtual exams but will make exceptions on a case by case basis. Please contact the testing office for more information. Admissions and Records will be staffed, as will the library, limited computer labs, and the food pantry. Our students rely on these servicesand we plan to continually monitor usage and offerings.
Starting Monday, some staff will work from home. Managers will be coordinating this effort and the goal is to maintain services, but also promote social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is no known case on our campus, so the campus is not deemed an area of risk. However, our efforts with the virtual campus for students and employees is to help the public health system slow down transmissions. This chart in the New York Times makes the case for our college’s contribution to help slow down the spread.
We will be contacting everyone on a regular basis with updates, revised opening hours for the various campus services, and links to new information posted on the college website.
Check out this new sticker that you could put on all the hand-sanitizers on campus. Stickers will be made available at the President’s Corner if you would like to place them on your sanitizers. Remember though that hand-washing is still better than sanitizers.
Thank you all again for your fortitude in the face of the significant challenges we are facing. Please be safe and look after your own health and take sensible precautions; gel in and gel out of all public spaces and practice social distancing (six feet between you and a colleague).
Have a good weekend!