Update 7/1/2020 for Faculty

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Update for Faculty

Good morning, Cerro Coso Faculty,

I am sending this email this morning for a couple of reasons. The first is rumor control to address the email that went out last night citing yesterday's Chancellor's Office memo about faculty preparedness in the online environment.

Since the pandemic started, the Chancellor's Office has been sending periodic guidance to the field. Yesterday's was another in that string, reminding us in this case that there are several sections of Title 5 regulations that speak to best practices in preparing faculty for online teaching and informing us that these sections have not been temporarily suspended or waived. It would have been unusual in the extreme if the Chancellor's Office had taken this opportunity, in a memo as mundane as this, to announce that all instruction at all community colleges would be going completely online for the fall 2020 semester.

And this is, in fact, the case. The first sentence sets the context of the memo, not announces a massive operational and policy change that would affect 2 million students. I'm not even sure the Chancellor can legally do that—he can temporarily suspend or waive sections of Title 5 but not Ed Code. Anyway, if you want to see my short exchange with the Chancellor's staff, I have pasted it at the bottom of this communication.

But, secondly, I also want to address the upcoming decision about fall semester classes. Nothing has changed about planning for the fall since my email of April 28th went out to all faculty:

  • We identified July 15 as the date to communicate any changes to the plan for onground classes in the fall according to the long-term schedule at each campus location. This provided enough time to see any changes in stay-at-home orders, group gathering guidelines, etc., but is still far enough out from the start of the semester if we need to communicate to students that a change to Plan B is necessary.
  • One change we were looking to make even in April was bringing the classroom seat capacity for onground classes down to levels consistent with safe social distancing numbers. If the outlook on July 15 is more of the same social distancing, we will not have overfilled classes; if the outlook is rosier, we can increase caps; if the outlook is still stay-at-home, we can move to the Plan B's.
  • About the Plan B's: please continue to work with your faculty chair and dean to determine what will happen to your onground class if we are again forced into a remote delivery mode. Online is not the only option! Even this semester, one technique being used is the instructor still meeting students during class time to deliver lectures—just over Zoom instead of face-to-face. Please discuss your Plan B with your chair and dean now so we can support you if the time comes. Also, we can get you some training if you want it, just in case.

Is there a committee or task force making the decision and planning protocols? Since much of the planning has been taking place after the end of the spring semester, the college's primary working group has been President's Cabinet plus the Safety and Security Manager (Kevin King) and the M&O Director (Cody Pauxtis), continuing to meet as an emergency response team since last July's earthquakes, actually. In addition, information and dialog have been taking place between faculty chairs, CCA, Dean Houck, and myself. A protocol document is in draft form and will soon be ready for prime time. It will reflect the same information that other state and county agencies are reflecting, down to the local areas of implementation. Chancellor Burke is providing guidance from KCCD human resources and risk management departments to integrate into our local protocols district wide.

Who is part of that decision making group?  There are multiple groups weighing in on this decision, whose input the president will consider in the final decision. Faculty have a big part in that recommendation between our chair structure and CCA. Many of the concerns surround working conditions, and while your administrators are monitoring directions from the CDC, state agencies, and county variances to inform our protocols, Matt Crow is representing CC at the bargaining table. Students and classified staff will be heard as well. IF all groups are indicating we can do face to face with specific protocols in place, a bigger question the president has to address is do we even have the 'human resources' to manage the protocols as required. This all boils down to safety. Considerations for informing the decision on July 15 include but are not limited to:

  • Results of negotiations with CCA and CSEA
  • Results of the student survey that went out Tuesday and already has over 500 responses
  • The faculty's “Questions for Fall Semester Planning” GoogleDoc
  • Guidance documents from the CDC, the CDPH (which still has in-person higher education on the not to reopen list), and the Chancellor's Office Safe Campus Reopening document that is in final vetting and has not been released yet to the field

What is the time line for a decision? July 15th

Who should faculty contact with their questions or concerns? At this time, Matt Crow, faculty chairs, Dean Houck, Director Christine Small, VP Ostash, and myself would be good sources to provide questions or concerns depending on what they are. In addition, if a faculty member feels there is a 10 +1 issue involved, please contact Ben Beshwate of the academic senate.

Finally, I want to thank you all. I know it is a very trying and fearful time, with vast amounts of uncertainty, especially with cases on the rise. Thank you for your continued efforts to use the processes we have in place to maintain productive dialogue in the spirit of collegiality. Below is the full text of my exchange with the Chancellor's Office.