Chancellor Judy C. Miner sent the following message via email to Foothill-De Anza district employees.
Nov. 12, 2020
On September 16, I wrote to you saying we needed to plan on continuing to offer instruction and services remotely through Winter Quarter 21. We are proceeding accordingly and there will be extremely few exceptions to the work-from-home rule during this period, primarily involving allied health programs, child care, police, grounds, custodial, technology, business services, bookstore, library reserves, and facilities staff coming to campus as needed. Students and staff will work onsite on a very limited basis with all safety precautions in place, including utilization of a contact tracing app that we continue to modify as we gain more experience.
I also indicated that our plans for Spring Quarter 2021 would likely be decided in January, but you and our students need certainty sooner than January. Our colleagues with responsibilities for scheduling spring classes need direction now as to the possibility and feasibility of expanding on campus instruction. Given the current surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and stays in intensive care, we must stay the course through the end of Spring Quarter 21 and limit programs and services as indicated above. Santa Clara County is expected to announce increased restrictions next week and I will update you with any changes that would affect our district.
The Coast Conference met today to poll its 17 colleges as to their plans to opt in or out of competition for Spring 1 and Spring 2 sports as designated by the California Community College Athletic Association. I attended along with Thuy Nguyen, Lloyd Holmes, Kulwant Singh, and Eric Mendoza. Colleges that opted in indicated they were doing so if testing costs were affordable. They still have the choice to opt out at any time they determine they can’t afford testing.
Foothill-De Anza and others opted out on the basis of health and safety and that there is no assurance that testing will become affordable for our colleges. Waiting to decide would postpone the inevitable. It is our belief that students are better served by knowing now rather than later. We are concerned for their safety and that of their families if they are exposed to surges in COVID-19 that are considered likely given cold and flu season and large gatherings over the holidays. We know this is a source of great disappointment but we find the health risk to be even greater. By the time you read this, California may have already reported its one millionth case of COVID-19.
The current estimate to test Foothill-De Anza student athletes and employees for Spring 1 and Spring 2 is more than $1.5 million. This does not include the testing that would be required of game officials and visiting teams whose home counties would not have as strict a set of requirements as Santa Clara County. In addition, this cost does not include other expenses such as proper cleaning after each event, housing, transportation, etc.
In light of the current expectations for a mostly virtual Spring 21, we are developing a return-to-campus plan that would provide clear guidance as conditions change and we see opportunities to offer more programs and services on campus. Because of the enormity and complexity of meeting changing requirements, we have hired Pat James, who currently serves as an OEI professional development instructor, to monitor, update, and document regulations and our compliance. She will also assist us in communicating processes and decision points so that there is general understanding of who makes what decisions when. We will also convene a districtwide Return-to-Campus Task Force in January to coordinate work already accomplished at the colleges and Central Services regarding guiding principles, prioritizations, and logistics. Return-to-campus is still a work in progress, but we are committed to investing the time necessary to ensure that when we can return, it will be done with both safety and clarity.
You may not fully appreciate that you have made us a model district thanks to your dedication, resilience, and empathy. I was interviewed by La Voz this week and the reporter told me that he had talked with an international student about her experience this fall. She said: “I didn’t feel welcome by America but I felt welcome by De Anza.” I have no doubt this response is emblematic of Foothill-De Anza. We have our flaws but continually strive to make all our students welcome and successful!
With deep appreciation,