COVID-19: Fall Semester Operations Update

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Dear Southwestern College Community,

We are ending our academic year during one of the most challenging periods Southwestern College and our community has ever faced. Even so, I am feeling incredibly inspired. I am inspired by the resilience and tenacity of our students who continue to overcome life’s obstacles in their pursuit of higher education.

The passion and tireless work of our faculty, classified professionals, and administrators inspire me as a college president. These dedicated professionals have worked beyond their usual duties to continue to educate our students, provide them essential services, keep our facilities running, and serve our community. Throughout the entire COVID-19 public health crisis, these dedicated professionals have kept our students and community at the center of our efforts.

College leadership has planned for the fall semester with our students, employees, and community needs at the forefront of our minds. These past few weeks we have seen relaxation of regulations at the state-level, and we also see the disparate impact COVID-19 has had on South County. We understand the conflicting data and messages in the media and at different levels of government are causing confusion and frustration.  As a leadership team, we are guided by state, county, local municipal guidelines, orders, and data.  Most importantly, our decisions are based on our commitment to the well-being of our employees and students.

We continue to use two principles for decision making for the COVID-19 public health crisis:

  • Student health, well-being and educational success.
  • Employee physical and financial health and well-being.

Fall Semester Operations

Students, faculty, staff, and administrators should expect to begin fall semester instruction through distance learning and remote instruction. On April 16, 2020 we announced to our college professionals we were planning distance learning and remote instruction for Fall 2020.

We are working to allow limited courses, such as allied health and public safety, the ability to have in-person classes with the required physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety protocols in place. Fall registration will open in July and faculty will work with students on how their specific classes or labs will operate in the fall semester.

The fall semester will offer unique challenges, and it is our job to ensure these challenges serve as opportunities to provide our community with excellent learning opportunities. We will offer more online classes in the history of this college and reach students who may have not been reached before. Some of these students will be looking for second, third or fourth chances as our unemployment rates continue to climb. We will be ready to welcome them and help them achieve their educational goals and a livable wage.

It’s impossible to guess what the status of the COVID-19 pandemic will be in August. Many of us are hopeful that things are improving given that local and state health departments are giving guidelines to re-open businesses and parks in our neighborhoods.

South County is unique, and our college is a reflection of our binational culture. Our college community is made of more than 28,000 people, in a very diverse community of almost half a million people, and campuses spread throughout multiple municipalities. Our recovery plan to safely reopen will be unique, too.

That is why we continue to plan as if some version of stay-at-home or social distancing orders will exist come August. Much like our local guidelines and the COVID-19 pandemic, this plan will change and evolve. While the fall semester will start through distance learning and remote instruction, students and instructors may be able to return in a tiered and limited capacity if things improve. Conversely, if the COVID-19 virus sees another spike in the fall, we may have to stop or reconfigure the few in-person labs and classes we may offer.

In these challenging times, our commitment to our students and our community has never been so crucially needed. This public health crisis has exposed the inequities our community and students face and we, Southwestern College, continue to rise to meet these challenges and double down on delivering equitable learning and services to our students.

With great respect,

Kindred Murillo, Ed.D.
Southwestern College