Update March 14, 8:22 a.m.:
San Diego State University reported on Friday that one student has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now self-isolating. The university added that the student had not attended classes after returning from a trip to Italy.
The student had little interaction with anyone on campus and the risk to other students and faculty is low, according to San Diego Health and Human Services Agency
Update March 13, 5:18 p.m.:
San Diego Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Constance M. Carroll, announced that all classes at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges have been cancelled for the week of March 16. This decision was reached, in consultation with campus presidents, to allow the district time to make instructional changes necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the district’s statement, “alternative modes of instruction, including online classes,” will begin March 23.
The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Board of Trustees have granted Chancellor, Dr. Constance M. Carroll the power to take any action regarding the continuation of education during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Within the resolution, the chancellor now has the authority to decide whether or not classes go online, buildings close, and a variety of other executive orders to keep students, faculty, and staff healthy. The unanimous verdict, which declared an emergency within the district, was voted on by trustee Craig Milgrim, Mary Graham, Sean Elo, Maria Nieto Senour, and Bernie Rhinerson.
Regarding whether or not campuses stay open, Carroll explained, “We cannot answer today.” The chancellor then said those answers will come in just a few weeks and wanted to reassure those in the community that the district is in close touch with health organizations and other universities. During that time, steps will be taken each day as new information develops.
The underlying issue here being that students have become uncertain about how any possible changes will affect their classes, with many planning on transferring this fall. Unlike University of California San Diego and San Diego State University, which have taken actions to move classes fully online, SDCCD students are in limbo.
And while students and faculty are unsure about this semester, it’s important to also protect the hard-working staff that keep these campuses running. If facilities close, what will happen to them? Surely they can’t be expected to go weeks without a paycheck. All of these issues are being taken into consideration within the district as they work closely with staff members.
In a March 10 email, SDCCD informed students that courses were being prepared to go online, but as a precautionary measure. The update shared the California Department of Public Health’s message that the health risk is currently low. It continued to remind students to wash their hands frequently for 20 seconds, avoid touching their face, and stay home when they are feeling ill. And while the district has been supportive in helping students not fall behind, students have voiced their concern about missing lectures and not understanding lessons.
Touching on the confusion among Mesa College students, Associate Student Senator Kilma Lattin shared, “There’s some confusion. Nobody really knows from a leadership standpoint. We are looking for clear direction.”
Adding to this, board member and Grossmont professor Milgrim stated, “This is very difficult on our students.” Milgrim suggested that the district work with UC and Cal State institutions in the event that classes needed for transfer are cancelled. Providing clear and consistent information must be part of the plan going forward.