Chancellor's message: Coronavirus update - 5/18/2021

May 18, 2021 | Constance M. Carroll - Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District

SDCCD Colleagues and Friends:

The Board of Trustees and I hope that everyone is well.  As we move toward the end of the semester, we want to be sure to make and to communicate all decisions and plans pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take a moment to become familiar with the information that is provided in this message.


Plans for the fall include more sections of on-campus classes and class components than is currently the case.  The chart below is a draft that outlines the components of fall semester scheduling, although this information will change as we get closer to the final May 28 deadline for scheduling decisions.

Modality plans for fall


One of the biggest issues regarding reopening our campuses and administrative and support work sites is whether there will be a vaccination requirement for in-person instruction and/or operations. Over the past two months, many colleges and universities have announced planning guidelines for the fall 2021 semester, with most announcing that they will mandate vaccination for employees and students as a requirement for returning to in-person instruction and work, but with others opting for “strong encouragement” instead of a requirement. Because these decisions affect many, many people, the San Diego Community College District has been deliberate and methodical in its approach. We have been conducting surveys of employees and students in order to understand how our internal communities view this important decision and providing participatory governance groups opportunities to make recommendations. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we try to “get this right.”

The Chancellor’s Cabinet has received input from its advisory taskforces, which include representatives from the Academic Senates, Classified Senates, AFT Guild, Management and Supervisory groups, Facilities, Educational Services, and Human Resources. It is important to me, and it is important to the Board and the Chancellor’s Cabinet to ensure that our decisions are well-informed by data, as well as by input from the stakeholder groups in our District. Employees and students were also surveyed for their input. The results of the employee survey and the student survey are attached for your information. 

The surveys show similar results, with approximately 53% of employees and students strongly favoring a vaccination requirement for the fall semester and nearly 70% of respondents expressing a preference for all or most people on-site being vaccinated. The students also indicated their preferences for instructional modalities and the challenges they have been facing.  In consideration of the decisions among higher education institutions in San Diego County, the concerns and preferences stated by employees and students, and the rate of COVID-19 infections in our communities, the San Diego Community College District will require employees and students to be vaccinated in order to work, take classes, and receive services in-person during the fall 2021 semester.

This decision is contingent on the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) fully authorizing one or more COVID-19 vaccines. It is widely anticipated that the FDA will fully authorize the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines prior to the start of the fall semester. The Human Resources Division will establish a process for employees to verify vaccination status, as well as a process for employees with medical or religious concerns related to vaccination to request an exemption and reasonable accommodation consideration; details on these processes will be sent out by Human Resources Vice Chancellor Greg Smith in the near future. Educational Services Vice Chancellor Susan Topham will work with the colleges to establish procedures for students to verify vaccination status as part of the enrollment process.

In view of this decision, and in view of the recommendations and protocols of public health officials, we strongly urge everyone who has not yet done so to get vaccinated as soon as possible.


The District continues to track all COVID-19 positive cases, both those occurring on-site and those occurring offsite. We are grateful that the number is still quite low. The chart below provides an overview of all cases to date.

Number of covid cases in the district


The overall SDCCD plan going forward is this.  At present, things will stay much as they are, with most instruction offered online and most operations conducted remotely.  By fall, the goal is to have many more classes and operations provided in-person and, by spring, to have the entire District reopened for in-person instruction and operations.  In the meantime, the Chancellor’s Cabinet members and the managers will determine the identification and incremental timeline for classes and employees to gradually return to on-site work.  This effort will officially begin on July 1, when specific areas of the campuses and District Offices will partially reopen.  We anticipate that more information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.  Every effort will be made to ensure that this is a secure and comfortable transition for everyone, with the understanding that the required work of City, Mesa, Miramar, and Continuing Education colleges, as well as the work of the District Offices will determine how the in-person plan will actually roll out.


In response to a number of requests, the Return to On-site Activities Workgroup membership has been updated. They meet regularly, review issues, and provide recommendations pertinent to the COVID-19 situation as it pertains to opening the campuses and departments.  Please contact your representative on the workgroup with any concerns or recommendations you may have.

Gregory Smith, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, Chair

Chris Manis, Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management

Masahiro Omae, Academic Senate President, City College

Manuel Velez, Academic Senate President, Mesa College

Laura Murphy, Academic Senate President, Miramar College

John Bromma, Academic Senate President, College of Continuing Education

Neill Kovrig, Classified Senate President, College of Continuing Education (representing the Classified Senates)

Jim Mahler, AFT Guild President

Danielle Short, AFT Guild Classified Vice President

Andy MacNeill, Management Association, Mesa College

Brett Bell, Management Association, Miramar College


As always, thank you for being such a resilient group of professionals.  The climate regarding health issues is steadily becoming more positive, as the numbers of people vaccinated increases and as the trajectory of the pandemic flattens, especially in the United States and particularly in California.  This is good news for all of us. 

Stay well!

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
San Diego Community College District

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