Chancellor's Message: COVID-19 update 9/16/2020

September 16, 2020 | Constance M. Carroll - Chancellor, San Diego Community College District

SDCCD Colleagues and Friends:

It seems incredible that we are now in our sixth month of dealing with the coronavirus COVID-19.  I do not believe anyone could have predicted the longevity of this crisis. All of our faculty members, administrators, and classified professionals are continuing their excellent work teaching online, with a few on-campus demonstration components, and conducting operations remotely.  The Board of Trustees and I thank you all for your dedication above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty.

As always in my communications on this topic, let me remind us of the two imperatives that govern all of our decisions and plans affecting the District, City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education:  1) ensuring the health and safety of our students and employees; and 2) ensuring the continuity of our operations. 


Nationally, the virus has decreased somewhat in some areas while spreading to others, especially to rural communities. It is very clear that while there is some reason to celebrate decreasing numbers, COVID-19 is not abating and future surges may be seen. I am sure that by now you have read about the surges that have occurred as a number of universities and colleges reopened in the fall and saw surges in the rate of COVID infection within the student body.  The University of Alabama alone saw over 1,200 cases.  Even San Diego State University has reported cases in the hundreds. Clearly, more needs to be done in enforcing health protocols that prevent the spread of the virus, e.g., masks, social distancing, temperature checks, and thorough disinfecting efforts.


Today, Governor Gavin Newsom stated his belief that California is making progress in combating the coronavirus pandemic but acknowledged that the State could see a spike in new cases from the Labor Day weekend.  California now has 760,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 14,451 deaths. The number of COVID-related deaths increased by 0.5% from Sunday's total of 14,385. The state has performed 12.9 million tests; and the rate of positive tests has decreased to 3.6% over both the past seven and 14-days. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across California, and the number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU, both dropped 22% in the last 14 days.

Three counties – Marin, Inyo and Tehama – were able to move out of the highest, most restrictive Purple monitoring tier and into the Red tier. California Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly said that more counties are expected to drop into lower tiers in the next few weeks, which could mean reopening indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and religious services.


As you know, San Diego County was recently removed from the Purple monitoring tier, which enabled some businesses and public facilities to reopen.  However, this situation is being closely monitored, especially in view of the crowds that emerged at beaches and other venues during the Labor Day weekend.  Many people were not observing the health protocols, and the fear is that a new surge could be seen.


As planned, this fall 2020, classes are being offered primarily online, but some components are being offered on campus in areas where the conversion to the online format has been difficult and/or inappropriate, such as science labs, clinical labs, and hands-on career/technical sessions.  The chart below indicates the distribution of fall classes by modality.

Distribution of fall classes

While there are still challenges, especially regarding Nursing and a few other programs, the semester is off to a solid beginning.  Another 10% to 14% of fall classes will be offered in an 8-week format later in the semester, followed by the intersession.


As you may recall, going into the 2020-21 year, over 900 classes were cut as part of the budget-reduction process. City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education chose to spread the remaining class sections across the year so that students who needed to complete classes in the summer could do so and so that students who need to complete or prepare for transfer could do so in a small intersession. The intersession will be 100% online and class sections have been allocated, as follows:

intersession classes


Since my last COVID Update, we have made a final decision about the spring semester.

- The vast majority of classes will be scheduled and offered in the online format.

- Hybrid classes will be increased in number, especially in science laboratory, clinical, and career/technical areas.

- A few student support services will be made available on campus.

- Strict public health protocols will be followed for any class sections that are offered on campus.

- Remote operations will continue during the spring semester, and we hope to phase-in a return to work sites later in the semester.

- Events will continue to be offered in a virtual format.

We are hopeful that by the end of the semester, there may be more flexibility.  We definitely are hoping to hold our commencements in-person.


The District, the Colleges, and Continuing Education have been working on the distribution of both remaining federal COVID-19 emergency funding and State COVID-19 funding.  I have included this information for your review and I encourage you to contact your campus if you want additional information regarding how to apply for funding.


As I mentioned at the recent Convocations, I will be holding Chancellor’s Forums for each of the institutions of our District.  Information will be provided on a variety of topics, including the state of COVID-19 planning and related issues, and there will be an opportunity for input and suggestions.  Please attend one of these sessions, which have been scheduled as follows (links will be provided a few days before the sessions):

Chancellor’s Forums (via Zoom)

- September 14, 2020: 2:30 - 4 p.m., Continuing Education (already conducted)

- September 17, 2020: 2:30 - 4 p.m., City College       

- September 21, 2020: 2:30 - 4 p.m., Mesa College

- September 23, 2020: 2:30 - 4 p.m., Miramar College

- September 29, 2020: 2:30 - 4 p.m., District Office

The Board of Trustees and I, the Presidents, and the governance leaders are all working together on our COVID-19 responses. However, your work is the key to our success in serving students in this enduring crisis. Thank you again for your dedication and optimism. We can do this!

Thank you and stay well!

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
Chancellor, San Diego Community College District

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