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,
San Mateo County Community College District