Chancellor's Message: COVID-19 update 3/17/2020

March 17, 2020 | Dr. Constance M. Carroll - Chancellor, San Diego Community College District

SDCCD Colleagues and Friends:

Once again, let me begin my message with heartfelt appreciation to everyone for their responsiveness, agility, and patience as we move deeper into the COVID-19 crisis that is gripping the entire world. This is truly uncharted territory for all of us and meeting the many challenges of this crisis requires both flexibility and a very fast pace. There are global precedents, federal guidelines, science and health guidelines, gubernatorial directives, and an overwhelming amount of media coverage to absorb. However, in the end, common sense, good will, and communication will help us reach wise decisions. 


Thus far, the following actions have been taken:

- All classes in the District at City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education have been suspended for this week, beginning Monday, March 16.  Students were notified of the suspension and directed not to come to campus.  Signs and College Service Officers have been stationed at all campus entrances to ensure that this is enforced.  Thus far, things seem to be moving smoothly.  Many students are expressing gratitude for the steps we have taken in consideration of their health and safety.

- Faculty members are on campus this week to receive assistance in finalizing their class conversions to the online modality or to other formats that will not require on-campus, group interaction.

- All classes will reopen on Monday, March 23, in their new off-site format.

- Student support services, such as counseling and tutoring, are being transitioned to remote formats.

- Supplies have been ordered and other measures have been taken to ensure the sanitary condition of facilities.

- Most events have been canceled and many meetings are now being conducted via Zoom and other internet-based means.

- We are beginning the planning process for instruction and support services in the event that the COVID-19 crisis continues into the next academic year.


My message today is primarily about the impending closure of our operations and the impact this will have on staffing.  It is clear that we must do whatever we can to reduce group interactions in order to reduce exposure to this virus.  Thus, we will be closing all but the most essential operations of the San Diego Community College District, including the closure of facilities. 

The College/CE Presidents and District Vice Chancellors, in consultation with their staff, are in the process of identifying “essential” employees who will continue to function temporarily onsite and later be required to work from home. All other employees will be sent home for an indefinite period of time, until further notice.  All District sites will be physically closed, although a facility or two may periodically open for occasional emergency meetings and critical functions.  These instructions will be conveyed, along with a notice of how this relates to their access to leaves, shortly.


It is anticipated that during the course of the current week, effective Wednesday, March 18, the District Offices and campuses will continue to be open for non-instructional business, with designated essential employees present. All other employees will be sent home. It is also anticipated that effective Monday, March 23, the District and campus facilities will be physically closed, except for employees who have been assigned to support the facilities, e.g., College Police and designated maintenance and custodial staff.  The closure will continue for an indefinite period of time, until further notice. By Monday, March 30, the entire San Diego Community College District should be fully closed and continuing necessary operations in a remote manner. However, on a scheduled basis, and with the permission of the Chancellor, a building or office may occasionally need to reopen and staff may be directed to return on a temporary basis in order to conduct a critical function, e.g., payroll or other specified functions.  More information will shortly be provided regarding electronic and other support for those employees who are required to work from home.


The College and Continuing Education Presidents and Vice Chancellors will convey to all managers, supervisors, and classified professionals their designations regarding which categories will continue working as essential employees and which categories will be sent home, beginning today. For those employees who are sent home, it is also expected that they will be available to work on an as-needed basis. We ask that all of these employees regularly check their email on a daily basis to see if there are work requests or important information pertaining to their jobs. All employees are expected to respond to calls and requests from their supervisors.


We are aware that many employees are understandably concerned about the effects on their leave balances if they are required to be out of work due to increased precautions and steps that need to be taken to reduce exposure and potential illness through closure, through quarantine, through abiding by the Governor’s guidance regarding highly-affected populations, or due to childcare considerations stemming from the closure of many San Diego schools and childcare facilities.  While it is expected and required that employees who need to be off work for any of these reasons communicate their absence to their supervisor in a timely fashion, we wish to clarify that they are NOT expected or required to use their leave balances for these purposes or to enter this time into the PeopleSoft system.  Any employee who has already used leave time for this purpose and has entered this leave time  in the PeopleSoft system, should delete the entries.  These deletions will go to the employee’s supervisor for approval and, if approved, the leave time will be restored to the employee’s leave time balance.  The District emphatically encourages any employee who needs to be physically absent from work, for reasons related to the COVID-19 crisis, to do so. 

Today, everyone will hear from their President or Vice Chancellor regarding specific plans and their work status during this crisis. The Human Resources Department will also be sending out an FAQ document to address anticipated questions and concerns. 

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the districtwide leadership, let me close this Update by once again thanking you all for your support and patience during this difficult time. We are collectively doing our best to reach our two priorities:  1) the health and safety of our students and employees; and 2) the continuity of instruction and operations. We do not know how long this crisis will last, but I believe we have done our very best work in preparing for it.

Stay well.

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
San Diego Community College District

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