March 5, 2021
Dear Colleagues –
We’ve seen hopeful developments related to COVID-19 in the past week as infection rates continue to fall, vaccinations increase, and restrictions begin to loosen. These developments give rise to questions about possible changes for us at College of the Canyons, so I’m writing with an update on where things stand today.
As we know all too well with this pandemic, things can change again, and quickly, so keep in mind that this information is based on what we know right now. Here are answers to the most recent commonly asked questions:
Many of the Santa Clarita Valley’s elementary schools are beginning to reopen, and high schools could resume in-person classes later this month. Does that mean more COC classes can meet on campus this semester?
No. The current regulations from Los Angeles County still limit on-campus classes to only essential infrastructure disciplines, so we are not able to expand in-person instruction beyond what is currently offered this semester. During the spring semester, labs in welding, EMT, land surveying, nursing, MLT, culinary, automotive, and construction technology are meeting on our campuses on a limited basis.
High school sports are resuming both conditioning and games. Will COC start its spring sports seasons?
No. L.A. County regulations for community colleges differ from K-12 schools and currently limit our ability to have students return to campus. Additionally, a return to play in the current COVID-19 environment would require the college to implement a number of potentially cost prohibitive measures including: weekly testing for student-athletes, coaches, support staff and officials; the ability to carry out contact tracing in response to positive tests; enhanced cleaning protocols for equipment and athletic facilities; and alternative transportation measures for away games.
Colleges could still be permitted to participate in modified on-campus conditioning, organized team practices and scrimmages against other schools at some point during the spring semester. With that in mind, Athletics has developed a preliminary plan to do so, and we are in the process of evaluating the feasibility of implementation. When more specific details are available, they will be shared with the campus and our student-athletes.
Will high school football games be played in COC’s Cougar Stadium as in normal seasons?
That remains to be seen. While high schools have been cleared to begin practicing and competing with proper safety guidelines, our campus is still essentially closed to the public. We have asked for clarification from Los Angeles County about whether our stadium can be used for high school football games and we expect to have more information next week.
Will COC offer more in-person classes for the Fall 2021 semester?
While Los Angeles County has not announced any changes to regulations for classes to be held in Fall 2021, we are hopeful that we can expand in-person learning for the fall semester. Administrators, faculty, and classified leaders are meeting to discuss different options in anticipation that we will have the flexibility to hold more classes on campus in the fall.
Are vaccinations available for those who work in education?
Yes, Los Angeles County is currently vaccinating those educators who live in the county and/or work in K-12 schools and community colleges. For more information about eligibility, and how to schedule a vaccine appointment, please visit the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/hcwsignup. Another helpful source of information is the state’s vaccination information page https://myturn.ca.gov.
Can we make study spaces available on campus for students?
This is something our students have specifically requested. We are finalizing our plans to create open study spaces while adhering to county parameters, and provide quiet places where they can individually study. As soon as plans are confirmed, we will provide details to the campus and our students.
Is our Center for Early Childhood Education open?
Yes! We have our youngest Cougars on the Valencia campus. As always, enrollment is full, so add your family to the waitlist if you would like your child to attend. More information is available on the center’s website at https://www.canyons.edu/academics/ececenter/information/tuition.php.
Will our students receive assistance grants from the federal stimulus funding approved in December?
Yes! COC received funding from the recently approved Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Over $3 million has been allocated to go directly to students in the form of CRRSAA Emergency Grants. These grants are intended to assist students with expenses related to a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare. Students enrolled for the spring 2021 semester, and who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, already received grants from this funding. Students currently enrolled for the spring 2021 semester who are NOT eligible for a Federal Pell Grant will be able to submit applications soon for CRRSAA Emergency Relief Grant assistance. We will notify students through email and text as soon as the application goes live next week.
Is other financial assistance – like scholarships – available to our students?
Yes! Thanks to the generosity of college and community donors, our Foundation annually awards approximately $250,000 in scholarships to students. The application window for this year’s awards is currently open, and has been extended to March 12. Students can apply at https://www.canyons.edu/scholarships.
This information will be added to the existing FAQs on our website at https://www.canyons.edu/news. If you know of people looking for more information about the college’s plans, please direct them to the website.
Thank you for your continued patience as we continue to navigate the twists and turns of these unpredictable times. As more information comes available, we will be sure to share it with you and keep you updated.
Dr. Dianne Van Hook