Chancellor's message: Coronavirus update 3-16-2021
March 16, 2021 |
SDCCD Colleagues and Friends,
It seems as though things are beginning to improve on the COVID-19 front, now that multiple vaccines have been developed and made available, and many people have been vaccinated already. I have had both shots now and I am eager to see everyone have the same benefit. In the meantime, here are some items I would like to share.
PLANNING FOR THE FALL SEMESTER
As the fall semester draws near, it is important to have plans in place that both ensure the safety of our students and employees and advance our return to “normal” teaching formats and operations. Our current plan is to expand the number of hybrid/on-campus sections, so that students will be able to complete their courses and programs in a manner that allows them the laboratory and hands-on experience that many science, allied health, and career/technical programs require. It will probably be the case that many lecture-format classes will remain online until it is safe to have larger numbers on campus. In every case, public health protocols will be followed.
Student athletes will be returning to the campuses for conditioning in just a few weeks. This is an important aspect of their training and we are happy to be able to accommodate this. Student-athletes will return to Miramar College on April 5, while student-athletes will return to City College and Mesa College on April 12. More details will be provided by Presidents Ricky Shabazz, Pam Luster, and Wes Lundberg.
COVID-19 FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDING
As you know, under the federal stimulus funding, the first Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I) allocation has been fully distributed. We are currently in the process of completing the distribution of the second round of funding in the amount of $35 million for HEERF II – the distribution summary is attached. We are now awaiting HEERF III, of which 50% must go directly to students as grants. I suspect that the allocation breakdown will be similar to the HEERF II list. We are also negotiating with the labor unions and meet-and-confer groups to provide a stipend for all employees to offset the personal costs they have had in order to teach online and work remotely. As soon as this has been resolved, we will send out an announcement.
We are not as fortunate when it comes to commencements. Because of the fact that there have been many surges with this pandemic, we are not able to have large gatherings and the venues we would normally use for our graduation ceremonies will not be available for the same reason. Therefore, this spring’s commencement ceremonies will once again be virtual. However, the colleges will provide drive-through options for students who want to receive their diplomas in person. This is disappointing for our students, but it is the only way to keep them and their families safe. Working with the company Marching Order once again, the virtual commencements have been scheduled as follows.
As in the past, the links will be provided closer to the events in order to prevent Zoom-bombing and other unwanted intrusions.
TRACKING COVID-19 CASES IN THE SDCCD
We are continuing to track COVID-19 cases in our District on a weekly basis. I am very pleased that the number is low. The chart below provides a summary.
I am pleased to share with you the weekly update on COVID-19 that is provided by a hospital consortium to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, of which I am a member.
National/International, State, County/City HealthCare Highlights
The Biden administration, under pressure to donate excess coronavirus vaccines to needy nations, is moving to address the global shortage by partnering with Japan, India and Australia to finance a dramatic expansion of the vaccine manufacturing capacity.
- President Joe Biden signed the massive COVID-19 stimulus bill into law Thursday, touting provisions that will put money into the pockets of millions of Americans. But the bill is more than stimulus payments and jobless benefits. It also includes a litany of programs, including health insurance subsidies, a cash-for-kids allowance to slash child poverty, state and local aid (which can't be used to cut taxes), and money for schools, restaurants, pensions, homeowners, renters, farmers and funerals.
- In President Biden’s first prime-time address Thursday night, he announced that he will direct all states, tribes and territories to make all American adults eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines no later than May 1.
- At least 1,522 new COVID-19 deaths and 62,689 new cases were reported in the U.S. March 11. Over the past week, there has been an average of 56,613 cases per day, a decrease of 18% from the average 2 weeks earlier. As of Friday afternoon, more than 29,344,800 people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database.
- On Monday, March 15, an estimated 4.4 million Californians with disabilities or underlying health conditions become eligible for the vaccine. The California Public Health Department (CDPH) released guidance on the verification process. Notably, the state is not requiring that eligible disabled or sick individuals present documentation of their condition. Instead, all will be required to self-attest that they meet the criteria. Other groups becoming eligible Monday include individuals who live or work in a congregate residential setting, and public transit workers, including airport workers for commercial airlines (but not private airplanes).
- On Friday, California hit a benchmark of delivering 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to underserved communities, triggering a big change that will transform the state’s reopening map from purple to mostly red. Reaching the milestone sets into motion less stringent statewide standards for when counties can allow indoor activities, such as dining in restaurants and working out in gyms. In some counties, that means those activities, with limitations, will be allowed for the first time since August.
- The CDPH announced the following COVID-19 statistics Wednesday, March 10: There were 6,412 newly recorded confirmed cases in the state Tuesday. The 7-day positivity rate is 2.4% and the 14-day positivity rate is 2.3%. More statistics are available here.
- The County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported yesterday that more than 1.27 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the region, and over 1.16 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County. Of those vaccinated to date, nearly 386,000 county residents, or 14.4% of San Diegans 16 and older, are fully immunized. There has been some discussion as to the efficacy of one vaccine versus another. The best vaccine to take is the one you can get the quickest. All 3 vaccines currently available in the U.S. have undergone rigorous testing and are phenomenally effective in preventing moderate to severe illness and providing immunity.
- On Thursday, March 11, the HHSA reported the testing positivity percentage is 3.3%, placing the county in tier 3, or the orange tier. While the testing positivity rate for the county qualifies it for tier 3, the state uses the most restrictive metric – in this case, the adjusted case rate – and assigns counties to that tier. Therefore, the county remains in the purple tier, or tier 1. Other updated county metrics about outbreaks, testing, hospitalizations and deaths are available here.
- Countywide data shows the number of patients with COVID-19 in San Diego County hospitals decreased to 291 Friday, March 12, an improvement over the prior week’s number of 363. The distribution of patients with confirmed COVID-19 is as follows:
o 105 at Sharp HealthCare
o 71 at Scripps Health
o 33 at UC San Diego Health
o 21 at Palomar Health
o 21 at Tri-City Healthcare District
o 15 at Kaiser Permanente
o 8 at Paradise Valley Hospital
o 7 at VA San Diego Healthcare System
o 4 at Rady Children’s Hospital
o 3 at Alvarado Medical Center
o 2 at Naval Medical Center San Diego
o 1 at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton
RETURN TO IN-PERSON ACTIVITIES TASK FORCE
As we move closer to resuming normal operations, the planning group has been reactivated. Members are:
Greg Smith, Vice Chancellor, Human Resources, District Office
Chris Manis, Vice Chancellor, Facilities Management, District Office
Brett Bell, Vice President Administrative Services, Miramar College
Andy MacNeill, Dean, Learning Resources & Instructional Support, Mesa College
John Bromma, Counselor, Continuing Education
Laura Murphy, Biology Professor, Miramar College
Neill Kovrig, Student Services Technician, Continuing Education
Jim Mahler, AFT Guild Representative
Danielle Short, AFT Guild Representative
The Board of Trustees and I continue to admire and appreciate the wonderful work our faculty, classified professionals, and administrators are doing through this extended pandemic. As you know, I am preparing to retire from the District on June 30 and I have accepted the fact that I will never actually work physically here again. As I have been clearing out my office, I have been finding notes and memorabilia from many people within our District, and these remembrances, among others, I will always cherish. Continue to do the excellent job you are doing.
Dr. Constance M. Carroll
Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District