Chancellor's Message - Coronavirus Update - 10/7/2021

October 7, 2021 | San Diego Community College District

SDCCD Colleagues and Friends:

I hope this message finds you safe and healthy. As we approach the midpoint of the fall semester, there are encouraging signs in San Diego County and throughout California regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s message will address the improving public health situation in our communities, the District’s phased-in reopening timeline in the fall, and planning for a full reopening in the spring.

Our goal continues to be a safe reopening of our colleges in the spring 2022 semester. The rise in COVID-19 cases in San Diego County throughout July and August caused us to pause our phased-in reopening process early in the fall semester. Fortunately, since mid-August, we have observed a steady decline in cases. According to data provided by the California Department of Public Health, the rate of COVID-19 cases in our county is down to 13.4 cases per 100,000 residents as of September 28. This is similar to the case rate on July 15, as infections were rising. The peak case rate was 39.3 cases per 100,000 residents on August 18. While there was concern for another rise in cases following the Labor Day holiday, fortunately, that has not happened. If you are interested in the COVID-19 data we are tracking, the Human Resources Department is posting weekly updates on our employee COVID resources page.

With public health conditions improving quickly, we can resume progress towards a full and safe spring reopening.

PHASING-IN THE RETURN TO ON-SITE ACTIVITIES

On September 2, we paused the timeline for increasing onsite work assignments for many employees throughout the District due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities. At this time, we are announcing a revised return to on-site activities and work assignments timeline.

Effective November 1, 2021, most employees will be required to return to onsite work assignments three days per week. Faculty teaching completely online will continue to work remotely. Employees who have been required to work onsite throughout the pandemic or increase their onsite work schedules beyond three days per week due to the nature of their duties will continue to work onsite as scheduled and are not impacted by this announcement.

The urgency to resume in-person services and work assignments during the fall semester is to ensure we can reengage students who have been unable to participate in online instruction and services throughout the pandemic and underserved by remote operations. November and December are critical times for enrollment and financial aid services for students planning to enroll in spring courses. A phased-in return will give everyone time to plan a smooth transition to a full reopening.

With this announcement, all managers and supervisors are expected to provide onsite work schedules to begin November 1 to impacted employees no later than October 18 to provide employees time to make necessary arrangements. Managers and supervisor are also expected to consider schedule arrangements that will limit the number of people present in shared workspaces and maximize physical distance among employees while working onsite.

All employees should be prepared for a full return to onsite and regular work assignments beginning January 1, 2022.

SPRING SEMESTER PLANNING

We continue to plan a full reopening of the District and Colleges in spring 2022. Spring instructional planning will be focused on meeting students’ needs and expectations for in-person and remote course and student service options. As we announced previously, the District will not establish an expected minimum percentage of in-person and online instruction for the spring semester. Non-instructional services, and work assignments will return to pre-pandemic operations in many areas. The District continues to work through the collective bargaining and participatory governance processes on a flexible workplace policy that will increase options for remote work for many positions.

PUBLIC SAFETY UDPATE

With the full reopening of our Colleges in the spring, we will be increasing security and safety staffing for campuses in the College of Continuing Education. At the October 21 Board meeting, we will request the Board of Trustees approve a reorganization plan to eliminate eight part-time College Service Officer positions and establish four full-time positions. The part-time positions are currently vacant and have been difficult to fill due to the limited work hours. Establishing full-time positions will allow the District to attract more qualified applicants and increase the availability of security staff to serve students and employees at campuses in the College of Continuing Education. The Campus Service Officer positions are part of the District’s Parking Services program. The positions are funded by parking fees and are not part of the District’s general fund.

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY ANNOUNCEMENT

In recognition of the extraordinary efforts everyone has made to continue to serve our students and communities during a difficult and stressful year, I will be requesting the Board of Trustees to authorize a districtwide closure on Wednesday, November 24. This will provide much deserved additional rest over the Thanksgiving holiday break for employees who are scheduled to work during the week of Thanksgiving. In addition, the College Presidents and Vice Chancellors may increase remote work options for employees, where appropriate, on Monday and Tuesday during the Thanksgiving week.

IN CONCLUSION

As we enter the final months of a tumultuous 2021, we have many reasons to be grateful, excited, and optimistic. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have been guided by our Board of Trustees’ compassionate leadership. Our remarkable faculty, confidential, and classified professionals have adapted to every challenge to meet the needs of our students and employees. Our supervisors and managers have led us in delivering online and distance education programs and services and are leading us in planning a safe and healthy reopening. Our police and security staff have been onsite every day to provide us with safe education and work environments. We are grateful for our resilient and committed students, a diverse and talented group of individuals who inspire and motivate us all.

We have persevered through the collective trauma of COVID-19 as a community committed to providing equitable educational opportunities for our diverse student body. In January, we will come back from these long months of isolation with renewed passion and enthusiasm. We will be flexible to meet the needs of the moment and resolute in our determination to give every member of our community the opportunity to rejoin us, refocus, and achieve their educational goals.

In this moment, we are called upon to come together, engage with compassion and respect, and support each other. We are members of a shared community founded on acceptance, inclusion, belonging, and collaboration. Individually, we bring our unique perspectives, experiences, struggles, and successes; together, we form a community bound by the powerful connection of a shared mission and vision for a more just and equitable society. 

Sincerely,

Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D.
Chancellor
San Diego Community College District

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