Chancellor's Message: Coronavirus update - 9/2/2021
September 2, 2021 |
SDCCD Colleagues and Friends:
With the new semester underway at the credit colleges and classes starting September 7 at the College of Continuing Education, I thought it was a good time to update you on our COVID-19 plans and decision-making.
PHASING-IN THE RETURN TO ON-SITE ACTIVITIES
On July 1, we announced a timeline for the phased-in return to onsite activities during the fall semester, which allowed employees to be required to return to onsite work up to two days beginning August 16, up to four days starting September 7, and up to full-time beginning September 20. Since that announcement, COVID-19 cases in San Diego County have increased rapidly, due primarily to the Delta variant and lack of safety measures in many public environments. To reduce the likelihood of any spread of COVID-19 in our educational and work activities, the District has continued to require face coverings for everyone while onsite and recently added a weekly testing requirement for employees and students who are not fully vaccinated. While the recent COVID-19 case data in the county suggests the rapid increase in cases may have leveled off, we are implementing an additional safety precaution by delaying the increase in onsite work assignments for many positions.
RELATED: MORE INFORMATION ON COVID-19
Until further notice, the District will maintain the current status of our phased-in return to onsite activities. Employees in many positions that have been working primarily remotely during the pandemic, can be required to work up to two (2) days per week onsite. This will not increase to four days per week on September 7 or full-time on September 20 as initially planned in many positions. Employees in positions necessary to support ongoing in-person instruction, perform essential onsite functions, and that have been required to work onsite throughout the pandemic due to the nature of the work performed will continue to work onsite as scheduled and are not impacted by this announcement.
With this announcement, all managers and supervisors are expected to arrange onsite work schedules to limit the number of people present in shared workspaces and maximize physical distance among onsite employees. All employees must wear face coverings while indoors and outdoors and unable to be physically distanced from others, as stated in prior communications on the District’s health and safety protocols. All employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19. Employees who are fully vaccinated may also choose to be tested at the District’s testing sites.
The College Presidents and Vice Chancellors, or their appropriate designees, will provide more specific direction for in-person work assignments and flexibilities to support the health and safety of our communities and phased-in return to onsite services for our students and prospective students. Thank you for your flexibility as we navigate this dynamic situation.
VACCINATION AND TESTING REQUIREMENT PLANNING
We continue to encourage all who are eligible to be vaccinated. As of August 30, 2,742 SDCCD employees have submitted their vaccination status with 89.9% (2,463) being fully vaccinated. If you have not submitted your vaccination confirmation or exemption form, please do so promptly. This information is critical to the District’s ongoing health and safety protocol planning. As a reminder, all unvaccinated employees are now required to be tested for COVID-19 each week regardless if they are working remotely or in-person.
On August 27, Vice Chancellor Greg Smith shared an email with the following information for how District employees and students can access free testing sites at the four colleges and the District Office.
If you have not provided documentation you are fully vaccinated, you are required to be tested for COVID-19 each week while you have an active work assignment. This applies to all employees regardless of their work location, including those working 100% remotely. All employees may be required to report to campus at some point this fall, so we need all employees to be prepared if directed to do so.
If you are fully vaccinated and have not provided your documentation, you may do by following these links: Submit your vaccination confirmation or vaccination exemption form. Directions on completing the forms are available here.
Fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days after the final dose in a COVID-19 vaccination series. Any vaccine approved for emergency use by the Centers for Disease Control or World Health Organization will be accepted by the District.
If you are not fully vaccinated, you may get tested at any available District-provided testing location or any other place offering COVID-19 testing using tests approved by the Centers for Disease Control. Testing is available free of charge to you whether you have insurance or not. There are places advertising COVID-19 testing for a fee, we recommend you do not use these sites. If an employee chooses to use a fee-based COVID-19 testing option, they will not be reimbursed.
District-Provided COVID-19 Testing Schedule
The District has contracted with Biocept to provide onsite testing at City College, Mesa College, Miramar College, and the District Office. Additional testing sites at one or more College of Continuing Education campuses may be added if we have sufficient student and employee need for testing to meet the minimum testing requirements from Biocept.
Any employee, student, or visitor may register and get tested at any testing site.
On-site testing schedule
As a reminder, all students attending in-person courses and individual appointments for services are required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Combined with the face-covering requirement, improvements to air filtration systems, and use physical distancing where appropriate, the testing requirement is allowing us to resume limited in-person instruction and services in the fall safely.
SPRING SEMESTER PLANNING
Throughout the pandemic, many employees throughout our District and Colleges have continued to work onsite and in-person to provide essential instruction and services that could not be performed remotely. With health and safety protocols in place, and a commitment to protecting each other, we have been highly effective at preventing transmission of COVID-19 in our onsite activities, even while the case rates were at their highest.
For the current fall semester, the District is offering about 25% of its classes either in-person or hybrid with the rest being fully online. Distancing, masking, and other health protocols continue to be an effective means of minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
At this point, it is too early to make decisions on what the Spring Semester schedule will look like. We are encouraged by reports that cases may have leveled off but we will continue to follow the public health situation closely and we will always prioritize health and safety. I hope to share an update on the Spring Semester before the end of the month. However, we remain committed to our goal of returning to normal, in-person operations in early 2022.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and Chancellor’s Cabinet, I want to thank you for your commitment, and persistence through the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your efforts have allowed the District to reengage and serve thousands of students including many who have been forced to put their educational pursuits on hold. Returning to in-person instruction, student services, and work is a commitment to serving the individuals being left behind and mitigating the inequitable impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our most vulnerable communities.
Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D.
San Diego Community College District