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Coronavirus Update

Message #2 from the Chancellor

March 10, 2020


More cases of the coronavirus that originated in China are being confirmed in the United States and in California. Currently there are 17 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County (per County of Los Angeles Public Health, 3/10/20) and no reported cases in the Santa Clarita Valley. COC’s leadership team is taking a pragmatic approach to this virus: there is no cause to panic, but ignoring the virus is not an acceptable response either. We are prioritizing smart preparation, prevention, and communication. We are guided by Fact over Fear and Evidence over Emotion approach.

March 6 Task Force meeting

Last Friday (March 6), COC’s Coronavirus Task Force met to discuss communication and planning regarding the encouragement of good hygiene practices and personal responsibility. Both behaviors heavily factor into the virus’ potential spread. This group will continue to meet regularly as the situation develops.

Individuals at the Task Force meeting included:

  • Michael Wilding, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Student Services
  • Diane Fiero, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Human Resources
  • Omar Torres, Interim Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Joe Gerda, Interim Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Ryan Theule, Vice President, Canyon Country Campus and Grants Development
  • Rebecca Eikey, Faculty, Instructor
  • James Temple, Vice President, Technology
  • Eric Harnish, Vice President, Public Information, Advocacy & External Relations
  • Kerry Carlson, Student Services Coordinator, Admissions & Records
  • Sharlene Coleal, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Business Services
  • Nicole Faudree, Faculty, Instructor
  • Mary Corbett, Faculty, Instructor
  • Paul Wickline, Associate Vice President
  • Kathy Bakhit, Interim Dean, Mathematics, Sciences & Engineering
  • Patti Haley, Faculty, Instructor
  • Rachael Houghton, Faculty, Instructor
  • Susan Wills, Administrative Assistant V, Academic Affairs
  • Jason Burgdorfer, Faculty, Instructor
  • Mary Manuel, Academic Director, Student Health & Wellness/Mental Health
  • Jim Schrage, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Facilities Planning, Operations & Construction
  • Julie Lutes, Allied Health & Public Safety Coordinator
  • James Glapa-Grossklag, Dean, Educational Technology, Learning Resources & Distance Education
  • John Green, Managing Director, District Communications
  • Michelle Augustine, Student Services Technician
  • Gayle Freund, Program Specialist III, Student Health & Wellness
  • Sab Matsumoto, Faculty, Instructor
  • Ana Palmer, Faculty, Instructor
  • Sandy Carroll, Faculty, Instructor
  • Anzhela Grigoryan, Faculty, Instructor

Some key points from Friday’s meeting:

  • The Task Force has divided into five areas of emphasis: Instruction and Student Services; Human Resources; Facilities; Liaison with other agencies; and Communication.
  • The next follow-up meeting is Wednesday, March 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. in CHCS-201.
  • Task Force members are sharing resources and reviewing relevant communication via a Canvas shell set up for that purpose. The campus community will receive this information via the Canyons web page.
  • COC is making progress on the creation of online Canvas shells for all appropriate classes. Faculty will receive a separate email with more details on next steps.
  • COC has ordered additional supplies needed to help curb the spread of the virus, including disinfectant, additional hand sanitizer stations, tissues and more. M&O will deliver these items to departments as needed, putting an emphasis on areas where the young and old are concentrated, as they are more vulnerable to viruses in general. Please allow M&O to distribute supplies to you as they are working to share limited supplies across campus.
  • Clorox and Lysol products are recommended per the approved EPA cleaners list. Employees should set aside time on a daily basis to wipe down phones, desks, chair arms, keyboards and mouse, and other heavily touched items.
  • Cleaning crews are increasing disinfectant use and cleaning efforts on campus and have added additional day and night crew.

Other activities related to mitigating the impact of the virus:

In addition to the work of the Task Force, I sent a communication to the State Chancellor with a variety of questions, including:

  • If a college closes due to the virus, how will state reimbursement of apportionment be handled?
  • Will the Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) be cancelling the many conferences scheduled which urge teams from each college to attend?
  • If we have to (for some reason) allow extra time (perhaps into the first part of summer) to compensate for spring instructional time, this will have an impact on those student applications. Can the CCCCO coordinate efforts with both UC and CSU on this front?

I have also been in contact with local SCV school Superintendents to suggest that we, as five districts in the Santa Clarita Valley, communicate and copy each other on any official communications that we are sending out to our constituents and employees. In this way, we can be consistent in our messaging, and work to minimize confusion that is caused by different and conflicting messaging and content.

Instructional update:

The Dean’s Council met last week with faculty leaders to formulate an Instructional Contingency Plan in the event of a necessary campus shutdown.

  • Based on preliminary guidance provided by our State Chancellor's Office, various scenarios were discussed to ensure that minimum contact hours are achieved for all instructional courses while supporting student success.
  • Colleges have now been granted a temporary blanket Distance Learning Addendum, and discussions are underway to provide instructors with necessary training, tools, and resources to provide alternative or remote instructional deliveries, if necessary.
  • Important conversations were addressed:
    • Timely faculty professional development;
    • Access to Canvas shells and Zoom;
    • Student equity, access, and success if classes are converted to alternative remote delivery modes; and
    • Impact of campus closures on laboratory, activity, and performance classes were addressed.
    • A letter with more details will be sent to full-time and part-time faculty later this week.

We are carefully monitoring the impact on the nursing curriculum:

  • We are seeking approval from the BRN to request a one-semester increase from 25 percent to 50 percent of clinical hours to be completed using simulation/simulators for our nursing students. We are spearheading this effort and currently have 47 (and counting) institutions on board along with the State Chancellor. The plan is to submit the request to the BRN by Wednesday, March 11 so it can be addressed at the BRN Board Meeting Thursday morning.
  • We are particularly concerned about the timely completion for the students enrolled in nursing programs. In a nutshell:
  • We can expect to have medical facilities with whom we have clinical agreements to restrict, reduce scope, or eliminate some placements.
    • This could mean that our students will not be able to complete the clinical time required in their coursework.
    • Currently, the BRN allows for 25 percent of clinical hours to be completed using simulations/simulators.
    • Given the lack of predictability of the viability of clinical placements as the COVID-19 situation evolves, it seems prudent that we all come together and plan ahead.

Additional information regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • For more information about the COVID-19 virus including local efforts that are underway to help inform, plan, prevent, and communicate about it, please visit COC's Coronavirus Information webpage, which will be updated regularly as this story develops.
  • COC will also update the campus and community via social media, the Canyons M app, and via direct-to-student emails.
  • Students received communication via email that was delivered on March 3, 2020. The next student update will be sent out shortly.

What can YOU do?

By way of reminder, the best thing we can all do is to know the symptoms, act accordingly when they are present, and act in a way that best prevents the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

  • Symptoms are flu-like, and include:
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing, and
    • Difficulty breathing
    • If you experience these symptoms, stay home.  Even if the symptoms seem mild, do not come to campus or go out in public if you feel unwell.

Simple prevention measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • To ensure you're washing long enough, do it while humming the tune to "Happy Birthday" twice. That will get you to at least 20 seconds. More:
  • If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol as an alternative.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then immediately throw used tissues away.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as phones and light switches.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Proper hygiene techniques will go a long way toward containing the coronavirus. Self-quarantining is also key, and is by far the most effective way of keeping the coronavirus contained. Even if you have a mild fever of 99 degrees, that is enough to warrant quarantining yourself at home. For science-based advice on how to self-quarantine, visit the CDC's Quarantine and Isolation webpage.

Please help to reduce misinformation and faulty thinking on campus when it arises. There are no local confirmed cases of this virus on our campuses as of today (3/10/20), and none in the Santa Clarita Valley that have been reported. People who cough are not necessarily infected with COVID-19 and should not be treated unfairly or made to feel unwelcome. Please combat these issues with good, current information when they happen.

Expect further periodic communications about COVID-19 as needed. And, thank you for remaining calm and helping us to share the kind of information that will help curb this virus’ spread.

Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook

Distributed March 10, 2020