March 19, 2021
Dear Students and Colleagues –
As you have likely heard, on Monday Los Angeles County moved from the purple tier to the less-restrictive red tier in California’s coronavirus recovery roadmap. This comes as welcome news and follows the continued decline of reported coronavirus cases and deaths.
The change allows restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to again serve customers indoors while following social distancing guidelines, requiring masks and limiting capacity.
As well, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) revised its Protocols for Institutes of Higher Education. The county provides the frameworks and allowability for colleges/districts to establish the specific plans for return to their campuses. The new DPH protocols give colleges and universities more flexibility to provide on-campus classes and services to students while ensuring that appropriate physical distancing between students and staff is maintained at all times. Higher education institutions can:
- Offer in-person lectures on-campus up to 25 percent occupancy of the lecture hall or classroom or 100 individuals (whichever is less) while maintaining current guidelines for face coverings and physical distancing.
- Open specialized classrooms, including laboratories, art, design and theater art studios and music practice rooms, at full capacity for activities that fulfill academic requirements, while maintaining current guidelines for face coverings and physical distancing.
- Open libraries for in-person services to registered students, faculty and staff, limited to 50 percent capacity and adhering to current guidelines for face coverings and physical distancing.
- Utilize outdoor spaces for instruction, with gatherings limited to 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is smaller, and following current guidelines for face coverings and physical distancing.
The protocol revisions naturally lead to questions about changes in our operations at College of the Canyons. Here is an update on what we have planned:
College of the Canyons WILL NOT convert existing and in-progress online classes to in-person during the spring 2021 semester.
The county recommends that academic instruction should continue to be offered via distance-learning. Further, to move classes from virtual to in-person at this point in the semester would be too disruptive for our students, who have planned their work schedules and family obligations based on attending class online. Moreover, given the current limitations on classroom occupancy required by social distancing, as of this time, we can only accommodate nine students in an average-sized classroom. In a class with 30 students enrolled, this would mean that more than two-thirds of the students would not be allowed to attend and would need to watch online.
The college will continue to offer essential infrastructure classes currently meeting in-person at the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses as scheduled. In addition, the new protocols give us the opportunity to add short-term classes to our spring schedule so we are looking at possible options, including those for international students and non-credit students. In large lecture halls and rooms, 25 to 30 students could be accommodated if there is six feet of space and all safety protocols are being observed.
In addition, the TLC will offer a study hall.
Starting Monday, March 22, The Learning Center (TLC) at the Valencia campus will be open for students to use computers and study spaces by appointment only. Tutoring will continue to be offered only online. Based on the county’s protocols, we can accommodate up to 59 students per time slot. Students will be required to fill out a health log, have their temperatures taken, wear appropriate face coverings and maintain physical distancing. They can register for the following two-hour time blocks:
- Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to noon, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Friday: 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
And, we are planning for Athletics to commence training on campus.
Conversations are currently underway to bring student-athletes back to campus this spring to resume conditioning through summer. To make that happen, we are reviewing and updating the COVID Athletics Return to Campus Procedures and creating a memorandum of understanding with COCFA. If all goes according to plan, the projected date student-athletes would return to campus is April 12. This date is flexible, as we need to finalize the procedures and ensure that everyone can return safely.
We are excited about these changes, as they represent the first steps in being able to welcome students back to campus after a year away. We remain hopeful that the county will continue to update its protocols and further expand access to the campuses for our students. As always, things change, and we will continue to provide regular updates as we get new information.
Dr. Dianne Van Hook