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.
San Mateo County Community College District