March 26, 2021
Dear Colleagues –
A continued decline in reported coronavirus deaths and infections means Los Angeles County could reach the Orange Tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy as early as the first week of April.
Achieving that milestone will not only mark significant progress in our efforts to combat COVID-19, but also enable a major shift in how our college can operate. The Orange Tier is the first tier in which offices can transition from primarily limited in-person/remote operations to a broader reopening, with safety modifications in place.
With this in mind, we are discussing how we can begin to bring more staff back to campus and reopen offices to serve students in-person. Because of the complexity of the situation, and the many variables that need to be considered, the process will be an ongoing transition rather than a sudden change. Think of it as turning on lights gradually with a dimmer, rather than clicking a light switch.
In the coming days, managers will begin or continue conversations with employees about what a safe and responsible return to campus will look like for each department. In developing the plans, a variety of factors will be considered, including the physical layout of spaces to facilitate social distancing, needed staffing levels and hours of operation to offer comprehensive in-person services, and the ability to work effectively from home when necessary.
We recognize that some employees may need special consideration given their health status or their duty to care for others at home. Employees should work with Human Resources to evaluate individual circumstances and arrange accommodations as appropriate.
The move to Orange Tier will have little impact on our instructional offerings during the current spring semester. Classes will continue in the formats in which they are now being delivered. As stated previously, we do not plan to shift our current OnlineLive classes back to campus this semester.
Faculty members and administrators in the Office of Instruction have made great progress in developing a Fall 2021 semester schedule that creates more in-person learning opportunities for students. That work will continue, and certainly benefit from, this transition to Orange Tier.
Although this represents a monumental step forward in our COVID-19 recovery, it does not signal the end of the pandemic. Faculty, staff, students, and campus visitors will need to follow mask wearing and physical distancing guidelines and other requirements outlined in our comprehensive Containment, Response and Control Plan while on campus to ensure we are making every effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
I know you have many questions as we begin making this transition. The purpose of this communication is not to provide detailed information about every scenario, but to begin the planning process and encourage you to begin thinking about your role in the transition. Please bring specific questions to your manager so that they can be considered in the ongoing decision-making processes. As plans take shape, know that forthcoming communications will provide more detailed information.
While we have a broad understanding of what will occur in the Orange Tier, we are awaiting specific directions from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH). Any changes to their Institutes of Higher Education protocols will be reflected in our plans.
This year has challenged all of us, but I am encouraged and inspired by our college’s response to adversity. We have proven to be innovative and flexible, yet steadfast in our focus on addressing and meeting the needs of our students. This transition back to campus will certainly present its own challenges, but I am confident in our ability to work together to overcome them and ensure we continue to deliver the highest quality education and learning to those we serve. We will help our continuing and new students to move forward while reaching out to those who stopped out during COVID and help get the barriers out of the way so they can re-engage and resume pursuing their goals and dreams.
Thank you for your ongoing patience, continued care for one another, and always choosing to see the best in every situation. It inspires hope, fuels our resilience, and enables us to move forward with confidence.
Dr. Dianne Van Hook