Dear Southwestern College,
It has been a truly unprecedented time for our college, our students, our employees and our world. We believe this is only going to get worse before it gets better. It is so inspiring to witness Southwestern College’s resilience, creativity, and patience as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
News and regulations for this public health crisis evolve almost daily, and our incredible college rises to each challenge in ways that both protect the health of our students and keep their educational goals continuing. Many of these regulations, like travel advisories and orders to shelter-in-place, have no end date, and I know that causes some uncertainty in our lives.
When we first ordered the move to online and distributed learning, we thought one week away from our campuses plus spring break might be enough of a break to help slow the virus. What we are learning is that COVID-19 is going to be around for a while, and we need to physically distance until further notice. Each decision was tough for our college, and when I look at how rapid the virus has spread in San Diego County since our initial announcement, I am grateful we acted swiftly.
Now, it is clear that this pandemic and its effects on our communities won’t be going away in a couple of weeks or even a couple of months. That’s why we’ve moved the rest of our spring semester and summer 2020 instruction to online and alternative formats. We know this move is tough for faculty and students, and we have heard from students who appreciate the empathetic and inventive ways faculty have been able to keep their classes going.
The logistics involved in moving our college to remote operations always felt challenging, although they never felt impossible. We are unified through the same goal: to continue to serve our students, protect the health and safety of employees, and help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Even as we are forced to put up physical barriers between us, Southwestern College has never felt more united.
As promised, this communication is to update our campus community on the state of Southwestern College as we persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we’ve mentioned, all instruction will be delivered online or through alternative formats through the end of the semester. Some classes are offered online easier than others, and we understand this is challenging for students and faculty. For that, we are deeply sorry. Our choices are limited in this environment.
As a college, we honor academic freedom, and our faculty are stepping up to take on this challenge. We ask that students reach out to your instructor for more information, especially if you are taking Career Education classes, labs, performance-based classes, and studio art classes. Your faculty determine the method of delivering educational material which will not be the same for everyone. We are working to support DEFT training expansion for faculty who will need DEFT training and additional support.
Our summer session will continue with mostly, if not all, online courses. We will update our students over email and social media about our summer schedule and registration.
Please visit our Online Learning website for essential resources, including workshops and training, that will help with this transition.
Commencement is one of the most cherished and exciting ceremonies for our graduating class. Because this is such a cherished event, we decided to survey our graduating Jaguars and ask them for input on the challenge of how to preserve the celebration and recognition for students and loved ones while being safe and responsible at the same time.
We hope to conduct our survey after we return from spring break and ask eligible graduating students if they’d like to proceed with a virtual Commencement or postpone to a later date. We hope to announce the results by April 10, 2020.
All events and ceremonies are canceled throughout the college campuses in Chula Vista, National City, Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, and Crown Cove Aquatic Center through the end of the spring semester.
This includes all our athletic events and our wonderful Student Awards Ceremony, where we award 20 Students of Distinction Awards and more than $100,000 in scholarships. While the celebration may be physically canceled, scholarships will not be interrupted and many students may get their scholarship checks sooner.
We will make every effort to creatively find ways to conduct year-end celebrations and honor our students.
I want to applaud our awesome student services teams across Southwestern College. They have made sure our students receive little to no interruption on the vital support they need. This includes transferring all counseling, including EOPS, Veterans, and DSS, to an online format, working to continue personal wellness and health services, keeping library services active, and supporting our students through eTutoring.
Our tutors, many of them current Southwestern College students, have been incredible. They’ve been using social media, WhatsApp, Zoom, email and many other creative ways to continue to support students academically.
If you still have any questions, please reach out to the student services departments directly through email. Many students are receiving help immediately.
Faculty (full-time and adjunct) who still have outstanding concerns about their classes should work with their chair or dean on how to best proceed. Classified professionals, we expect that you will continue to keep open and creative dialogues with your supervisors and staff as a whole.
The entire district will continue to work remotely the week after spring break, March 30, 2020 through April 3, 2020. During the week of March 30, 2020, administrators and managers will identify which employees will return starting April 6, 2020 to complete what is determined to be essential on-site work and who will continue to work remotely.
Social distancing and guidance will be strictly followed for any employees who return through the end of June. Deep cleaning of the Southwestern College campuses will be complete by the end of spring break.
Student workers will be in paid status through the end of the spring semester. Essential hourly employees will continue in paid status based on critical needs and in alignment with policy and legislative limitations. Adjuncts will continue to be paid per their scheduled hours until the end of the semester.
Our college employees, foundation and community are committed to supporting our students’ needs during this unprecedented time. The Southwestern College Foundation, in partnership with the Governing Board, has launched the SWC Cares Emergency Campaign. Now more than ever it takes a village to get through this crisis. We invite you to join our village with a donation of any amount.
We know that this doesn’t answer every question on people’s minds, which is why we will continue our commitment to deliver ongoing, transparent and timely communication to our community. Leadership will continue to rely on our local health departments for important information about the COVID-19 virus, including confirmed cases and prevention efforts.
Please continue to read critical Southwestern College emails and visit our special health updates website https://www.swccd.edu/healthupdates.
For the rest of the semester and possibly beyond, this will be our new reality, and that’s OK because we are all in this together. Please support our students and each other through this, we can do this. Stay home and stay well. If you develop symptoms that are concerning to you contact your health-care provider.
With great respect,
Kindred Murillo, Ed.D.