Emergency Status

Chancellor’s Update: Fall Semester Will Be Online

Click to view the announcement going to SMCCCD Students

Dear SMCCCD Colleagues:

It is hard to believe that we are in our last week of instruction for this academic year. The challenges and opportunities we have encountered have been many and vast.  And at each turn, we have worked as a team to serve our students and our community.  Thank you for your outstanding work and your continued efforts to get through this challenging time together.

Over the last several weeks the question that I have fielded most often is: “what are we doing for the fall semester?”  Several of you, as well as our Academic Senate, Classified Senate, and student leaders, have also requested that whatever the decision is, that we need to make it now so that people have time to prepare.

After conferring with the Board of Trustees, the District Academic Senate and a host of leaders and groups across the District, we have made the following decisions relating to the fall semester:

  • Our Colleges will continue to hold courses in online and distance education modalities through December 31, 2020. There will be some exceptions for courses/labs in the Healthcare and Emergency Services fields, as well as in STEM, Career Education, activity courses, and other select areas. We will only offer courses in this mode if we can maintain student and employee safety and also meet the health protocols established by the San Mateo County Health Department. Specific courses will be determined through collaboration of faculty and administration.
  • All student services will also continue in online or distance modalities through December 31, 2020. There may be select areas that are absolutely necessary to provide limited in-person services, but these will be determined as we move closer to the fall semester.
  • All College and District employees will continue to work from home until further notice, except for those who support certain face to face courses, Facilities, Public Safety, ITS, and other employees who have been identified as essential for working onsite. The District will continue to monitor local and state health orders and revisit operations if necessary.
  • More information will be shared by managers in the near future to enable sustained remote work for the coming months.

The Board of Trustees will vote to formally ratify this decision at the June 10 Board meeting.

As we have previously announced, the summer term will continue in online and distance modalities. This includes classes, student services and general College and District operations.  There may be a very limited number of academic and operational functions on campuses this summer, but these will be few and essential.

In taking these actions, we join other districts and systems (including the CSU) in hoping for the best but planning for the worst.  Our goal is, and will continue to be, making sure that students, faculty, staff, administrators and campus visitors are safe. We do not want to unnecessarily put students, employees, and their families at risk. According to a recent quote from Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County Health Officer: “the risk of exposure to COVID-19 looms large for all of us.” This is true despite the recent easing of some restrictions. Simply put, we need to keep the number of people that we have on our physical sites at a manageable level so that we can comply with health and safety protocols. 

We are a community of people dedicated to helping others and this requires human interaction. I love seeing everybody’s face in a Zoom meeting, but it is not the same. I have stopped saying “this is the new normal” because this “normal” is not the normal that any of us want. I am finding it very difficult to accept this “normal” and I know that you are too. This “new normal” has created anxiety, stress, and additional work for us and our students. 

I have asked so much of you this year but I have one more ask: please make sure that you are taking care of yourself. I have a theory that those of us in education tend to be perfectionists. It’s a quality that I admire. However, this is a time to give ourselves permission to be slightly less than perfect. Yes, our work is important because so many depend on us. However, take it from someone who occasionally bumps into students who took classes from me over 20 years ago: it is not the end of the world if you do not quite cover all of the material that you had planned to. Somehow my students have done well in life despite the fact that I rarely got through everything that I wanted to cover, or that I could have covered better. The same applies to classified staff and administrators. Your working environment has changed and you have been asked to do so much. Our physical and mental health is more important than anything else.

It is inspiring to hear so many stories of faculty, classified staff, and administrators finding a way or making a way to serve students and it reinforces my pride in the work that we all do.  I can’t thank you enough for your flexibility, diligence, tenacity and general awesomeness in keeping our Colleges and our District a great place to learn and work.

Be well!

Mike

Michael Claire
Chancellor
San Mateo County Community College District

Face Coverings Now Required in San Mateo County

To All SMCCCD Faculty, Staff, and Administrators:

The San Mateo County Health Officer has issued a legal order requiring face coverings for all members of the public, with certain exceptions noted in the order, when outside their place of residence. Note that this legal requirement applies to any District employee who is working on-site at any District location.

Read the San Mateo County announcement
Read the full text of the legal order

All people in San Mateo County are required to follow this order outside of the home.  There are many options for making or getting masks that fulfill the legal order.

When/Where Do I Have to Wear a Mask?
The order requires members of the public to wear face coverings when they are inside or in line to enter grocery stores, laundromats, hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, veterinary clinics, and when they are waiting for or riding on public transportation, including ride shares, Caltrain, and BART. You are not required to wear a mask while jogging, biking, or exercising, but you should still carry a mask in case you come within six feet of another person.

The order also requires workers, contractors, and volunteers to wear a face covering in the workplace when they are interacting with the public or working in any public spaces, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time. Face coverings are also required when working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities, and in any room or enclosed area when other people, including co-workers, are present (except for members of the person’s own household or residence).

What Type of Face Covering Is Required?
Face coverings can be any type of cloth, fabric, or other soft material that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. They can be factory-made or homemade. You can use many things as a face covering:

  • Scarves
  • Bandanas
  • Neck gaiters
  • Homemade coverings made from t-shirt material or other fabric and held with rubber bands 

You can use purchased masks, but do not purchase medical grade masks like N95 respirators, since those are in short supply and should only be used by healthcare workers.

How Can I Make a Mask?
Read these guides from the Centers for Disease Control for making, wearing, washing, and caring for face coverings:

English
Spanish
Simplified Chinese

Watch these videos for easy ways to make your own mask:
U.S. Surgeon General How-to Video
ASL How-to Video

A similar message is being sent to all District students.

This is a legal order of the County Health Officer. Please comply with this order anytime you are outside of your home or at the workplace.

Thank you.

Employee Update – April 15

New Student Guidelines for Excused Withdrawal, Pass/No Pass, and Incomplete Grading Options
In accordance with guidelines announced by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the District has issued instructions to students about how to go about dropping courses or changing grading options. Students are strongly encouraged to talk to a counselor before making changes. See the full announcement.

COVID-19 Leaves of Absence
Do you need to take an emergency or family leave due to the COVID-19 crisis? The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides new leave programs to assist employees through this time. Download this FFCRA Leaves Information and the necessary forms:

Employee Assistance Program
The District’s employee assistance provider Claremont EAP has established a COVID19 Resource Center with links to global news sources as well as materials from Claremont EAP.

If you are a full-time benefitted employee in need of mental health resources, download this EAP Summary of Benefits.

Need Access to Food, Unemployment, or Housing? Help Resources for Students and Employees
The District has a new web page full of resources for students and community members who have lost a job, need food or shelter, need access to mental health services, and more. Please refer students or others to this page who need assistance:

Local COVID-19 Data
San Mateo County Health keeps an updated website showing current COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospital data on its website. ealth Heal;th

CCC Chancellor’s Office Updates
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office has created an extensive COVID-19 Resources website with guidance for students, faculty, staff, and other helpful information.

Community Resources
San Mateo County has an extensive list of emergency assistance services for food, shelter, finance, mental health and other needs. Please share this site with anyone who needs help.

Get the Latest District Information
District COVID-19 Page
Telephone Hotline: 650-574-6650

Employee Update from Interim Chancellor Mike Claire

Dear Colleagues,

I want to start by thanking all of you. This last month has been the challenge of a career for all of us.  There is not one person in our District who has escaped the impact of COVID-19.  As always, my first concern is for you, those closest to you, and for our students.  I hope that you and your families are well.

I am writing to let you know that in consultation with the District Academic Senate I am recommending to the Board of Trustees that we suspend  face to face instruction for the summer session. We will discuss the details of how we will conduct summer session in a distance mode at the April 22 Board meeting. Based on current information and circumstances, this is the most prudent and responsible action at this time.  I wanted to let you know this now so that those scheduled to teach or work during the summer session have the opportunity to fully prepare.  For classified staff and administrators, we will continue to monitor the shelter in place order and we will re-open our campuses and offices during the summer only if it is safe to do so.

For the fall semester we are taking a “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” approach. What this means is that we are preparing schedules assuming a return to face to face instruction.  However, all of us need to be prepared to start the semester in a distance mode, or be prepared to switch to a distance mode at some point during the semester should a new shelter in place order be imposed.

We want everyone back on campus for the fall semester. However, I recognize that some of you are in at-risk groups or must care for others who are in an at-risk group. We will work with you as the shelter in place order is lifted.  For faculty, I would encourage you to work with your dean now if you are interested in teaching in an all- distance mode for the fall semester. For classified staff, if you have a job that can be done remotely and are interested in doing that work from home in the fall, you, too should start having conversations with your supervisor about those possibilities.  Not all jobs and not all offices will have the ability to continue to be conducted remotely but we are committed to providing as much flexibility when and where possible.

I am amazed and appreciative of your work as you respond to this massive disruption in your professional and personal lives. We are all working under impossible circumstances. Yet, the work that we must do does not change: maintaining excellent teaching and doing everything that we can to support our students, while always striving to do better. This is our calling and our work no matter the circumstances. That is what makes us all professionals regardless of our specific roles—I know that every one of you contributes in some way to this goal. However, I recognize that we cannot ask you for more without giving you the support that you need to be at your best. To that end, we will be working with our stakeholder groups to identify and fund professional development for employees, and also to identify the other resources necessary to help adjust to this new world we find ourselves in. We need to use our time now and over the summer so that everyone is fully prepared for whatever the fall semester brings.

I want to stress that the  Board of Trustees has made it clear that we must do everything that we can to sustain all employees during this difficult time. We are finalizing MOUs with our collective bargaining groups and I want to respect that process.  At the same time, I can say that we are committed to keeping everyone busy and maintaining pay for all employee groups, including student workers and temporary employees, as if the spring semester had continued in its normal mode. I am sure that some will “what if?” questions, and in special cases there are details that need to be worked out. However, this is the simplest way that I can convey our intent. Finally, I have asked our Human Resources Department to team up with our Communications team to aggregate resources available to employees and students.  You can find this information on the COVID-19 site (see the Help for You and Your Family Section). You can expect many updates in the coming weeks as we gather more information. 

As I look forward, I am mindful that we while we have different roles, we have all answered the same call:  to serve others.  In order to serve others we must take care of ourselves. Self-care manifests itself in different ways.  For me, it is doing my best to live in the moment and take the gift that each moment provides.

Earlier this year, my wife and I went from an empty nest to a full house in the span of a few days.  We love it but it has been an adjustment. Like many of you, my “office” is on one corner of our dining room table.  The other day I was on an important call when my two-year-old grandson made the decision to start running laps around the house while yelling at the top of his lungs.  My daughter tried to quiet him down without much luck. The funny part was that every time he came into the dining room he looked up at me and tip-toed through the room while still yelling.  Yes, it was a pain to be on that call, but all I could do was laugh. I knew that this little “moment” was his gift to me. 

I know that things are difficult, that the work never seems to end, that you are worried about the future, and that you have family and others to look after. As difficult as things are I hope that you are able to find the little moments that make life sweet no matter how tough the circumstances.

We have a lot of work ahead of us.  I have absolute confidence in you, and in all of us, as we work together in serving our students and our community.

With gratitude and respect,

Michael Claire
Interim Chancellor
San Mateo County Community College District

Spring Semester Will Be Online-Only; Commencements Postponed

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After consultation with the Board of Trustees and College Presidents, and in light of the continuing guidance coming from local, state, and federal health officials, SMCCCD Interim Chancellor Mike Claire announced the following decisions regarding District operations for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester:

Spring 2020 Semester

  • Classes for all three Colleges will continue through the spring semester in an online or distance learning modality.
  • Face-to-face instruction is suspended for the remainder of the semester.
  • We are monitoring policies from the State Chancellor’s Office regarding disciplines that have labs which require in-person or face to face contact. We work with the Academic Senate and faculty in those disciplines as State policies are finalized.

Commencement and Other Related Events
With regret, we must postpone commencement ceremonies as well as all other related end-of-year celebrations. We must do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus and it is simply not realistic to expect that mass gatherings will be possible in two months. We are committed to celebrating the incredible accomplishments of our graduates and will reschedule these events as soon as possible.

Campus Access is Prohibited for the Duration of Local and State Shelter-in-Place Orders
Access to our campuses and District Office remains prohibited as long as state and local shelter-in-place orders are in effect.

Vice Presidents and deans will continue to coordinate arrangements for access to campus offices, classrooms, or labs that is absolutely essential to the continuation of online/distance instruction through spring 2020. Any special access will be on a limited basis and must be pre-approved.

Summer 2020
We will make a decision in April regarding instructional modalities for the Summer 2020 term.

Spring Break Hours
Next week is our scheduled Spring Break. Should students need to contact College or District staff, they have modified work hours of 8:00 am – 2:00pm. 

Tuesday, March 31 is the César Chávez holiday, so “offices” are closed.

Flex Day Information for Faculty and Staff
See announcements at https://covid-19.smccd.edu/daily-updates/

District Information
COVID-19 Website
Phone Hotline: 650-574-6650

District Employee Update for March 25

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Here is your daily update for March 25.

Flex Day Clarification: Message from the Vice Chancellor 
The following message went from Vice Chancellor Aaron McVean to faculty and staff today:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,  

We have received some questions regarding the March 27th Flex Day that was identified in the academic calendar and wanted to provide some additional clarification. As was previously communicated, March 27th is to be used as a real flex-ible day for whatever it is you need to do to continue to maintain instructional continuity for students. With that in mind, I want to provide the following information:   

For adjunct faculty who are schedule for instructional and non-instructional work on Friday, you can perform the work that was scheduled, including teaching, or you can engage in professional development, or a combination of both, and submit hours to be compensated. As usual this is available for adjuncts who were already scheduled to work on Friday, and for the number of hours and rate they were scheduled (e.g., if someone was scheduled for four hours, they could engage in four hours of professional development and be compensated). Folks will need to submit a timesheet specifying the time and type of activity, as well as a flex report if engaging in professional development as a flex activity. If adjunct faculty dedicate the time for personal matters, that option has been made available, but would not qualify for compensation.   

If any faculty choose to engage in professional development as a flex activity this Friday, these activities do not need to be preapproved for March 27th. They can still be included in your flex activity report at the end of the semester.  

I hope this clarifies questions that folks had. If more arise, please communicate with your respective Dean, VP, or supervisor, and we will get answers to you in as timely a manner as possible. I appreciate the willingness and flexibility of everyone in doing what is needed during this unprecedented time. Thank you all, again, for the work you are doing to ensure teaching and learning continues. Be safe, be well, and support one another.

Respectfully,

Aaron McVean, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor
Educational Services and Planning

How to Make a Safe and Healthy Home Workplace
Many employees have never worked from home. Even if you have, you probably haven’t done so for extended periods of time while balancing work requirements with family duties. But a few small changes to your home work environment can help create a more comfortable, safe, and productive telecommuting experience. Here are some best practices:

  1. Ergonomically friendly work area: Use a sturdy chair that can be adjusted. Refrain from sitting on very soft couches and chairs as they do not support the body evenly during extended sitting.
  2. Adjust seating height, so your forearms are parallel to the floor when typing.
  3. Place a small pillow behind your lower back while sitting to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
  4. Use an external mouse and place objects — such as your phone, mouse, and printed materials — close to your body to minimize reaching.
  5. Place your feet entirely on the floor.
  6. Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day (about every hour) to reduce excessive stress on the lower back and legs while sitting.
  7. Take short micro-breaks (approximately two minutes in length) every hour to stretch and move your body.
  8. Be careful not to overload electrical outlets to avoid fire risk.
  9. Be aware of your extension/power cords to minimize tripping hazards.
  10. Keep your laptop and equipment in a secure place after hours that can be protected from damage or theft.
  11. If possible, find a dedicated workspace where you can focus on your work with minimal distractions.
  12. Inspect your home work area: A home workspace should be free from any hazards, including fire and ventilation issues, slipping and falling dangers, and other daily risk factors.

Also see these 5-minute stretches from San Mateo Athletic Club.

Call the District Hotline with Your Questions
The District has opened a telephone hotline for employees, students, and community members. We’ve assembled answers to the most common questions about operating during the COVID-19 crisis. The hotline will be open Monday-Friday, 8am – 5pm. To suggest questions or answers for the call center, please submit our online form. The hotline is: 650-574-6650

Zoom Meeting: What To Do About the Coronavirus
Skyline College’s Dr. Walter Cheng will be giving a talk this Friday, March 27 at 11am on the latest updates, news, and medical concerns about the Coronavirus. This is a follow-up to Dr. Cheng’s first talk, which is viewable at Skyline College Health & Wellness’ Overview page. This viewing is open to students and faculty/staff alike, so please spread the word and join! 

Here is the zoom invite info:
Topic: What to do about the Coronavirus Part 2
Time: Mar 27, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/502147101
Meeting ID: 502 147 101

Get the Latest District Information
District COVID-19 Page
Telephone Hotline: 650-574-6650

Employee Update – March 23

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District Hotline to Launch Tomorrow
The District is opening a telephone hotline for employees, students, and community members. Common questions have been assembled. The hotline will be open Monday-Friday, 8am – 5pm.

The hotline is: 650-574-6650

To suggest questions or answers for the call center, please submit our online form.

Flex Day Update
Per Vice Chancellor McVean’s email last week, the March 27 Flex Day has been made truly flexible for faculty to use as they see fit. You may teach, do your own professional development, or use it as personal time. Read more.

Department of Education Suspends Federal Student Loan Payments, Waives Interest for 60 Days
Students with federally held student loans will have a 60-day reprieve from interest and payments. See the announcement from the Department of Education.

Student Mental Health Webinar Tomorrow
Active Minds will host a webinar tomorrow, March 24, 4pm Pacific Time, for students concerned about getting by during the pandemic. Entitled “Sleep, Self-Care, and Sharing a Productive, Healthy Indoor Environment: Everything Students Need to Know about Mental Health during COVID-19,” this webinar features an interactive discussion with up to 500 student participants. Information/registration is online.

Remind Students to Request Technology
Do you know of students who need technology for their online classes? Please direct them to this survey to request a loaner Chromebook or calculator.

Links/Resources

Be well.

Employee Update for March 20

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Reminder: New COVID-19 Information Hub
Please use the new covid-19.smccd.edu website to access resources you need for teaching and working from home. There are links to web resources for faculty, for staff, and for students. Check this site daily for all the latest information.

Help us Identify Students Who Need Technology
Do you know of students who need technology for their online classes? Please direct them to this survey to request a loaner Chromebook or calculator.

Covered California/Medi-Cal Enrollment Has Reopened
Covered California has opened a special enrollment to any eligible uninsured residents who need health coverage. Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements, which are similar to those in place during the annual open enrollment period, can sign up for coverage through June 30.

Residents can also find out if they are eligible for no-cost or low-cost health coverage via Medi-Cal if they sign up through CoveredCA.com.

If International students have questions related to their health coverage, please call Aetna at 877-246-6997.

Exercise at Home
It’s important to stay fit during the shelter-in-place order. San Mateo Athletic Club has offered some tips for staying limber while working from home. Download their flyer.

Feed Your Soul This Weekend
During the shelter-in-place order and general stress of the health crisis, here are some things that might help keep you feel like a human being:

If you have more suggestions, we’ll be glad to share them next week.

Be well.

All District COVID-19 Information Now in One Location

We have consolidated all COVID-19 related websites in one place. You can now use https://covid-19.smccd.edu/ to access comprehensive websites for students, faculty, and employees working from home.

March 19 Student Update