Dear Southwestern College,
Before we get into some important operations updates and answer many questions you might have, I want to start by saying how proud I am of Southwestern College. I want to say thank you for your hard work and passion in everything you’ve done to prepare for the fall semester. We know it hasn’t been easy and we know the challenges of COVID-19 are not over yet. Our students and employees have done extraordinary things to prepare for their classes, to conduct college business and to unite together under a mission of higher education for all.
Our students’ resilience has been put to the test and as usual, they’ve shown their excellence when faced with a challenge. We know it hasn’t been easy to simply register for classes or access college services or access reliable technology or the internet. We are working every day to make this unprecedented semester easier, and our employees are working tenaciously to serve our students better.
That’s why Southwestern College launched it’s Virtual Welcome Center, to create a hub where any student can go with any question or problem. No issue is too big or too small. It’ll be staffed by student services professionals and fellow students with experience navigating the college system and will be able to help.
Southwestern College also expanded our Drive-Up Wifi Zone so students can drive-up, park and access the college’s fast and free Wifi in the safety of their car. The expanded hours are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
I also have to give a special thank you to the Southwestern College Bookstore. These committed professionals have been coming to campus every day to make sure our students were still able to purchase their books for the fall semester. They have processed more than 4,600 orders since Aug. 12, completely revamped their processes, created new online ordering, are offering next-day pickup and free shipping. I hope you’ll join me in giving special thanks to the Bookstore and its employees for their dedication to our students.
Now, we know that while we may only be in the second week of the fall semester, our students are always looking to the future and are wondering what the spring semester may look like at Southwestern College. The short answer is we don’t know yet, but we will announce before the end of this month. We wanted to share with you exactly how we will make that decision.
How We Will Reopen
Southwestern College has created two critical keys to our reopening: our Data Dashboard and our Decision Tree. These important guides were created by our reopening team that includes representatives from the college’s constituency groups, faculty members, classified professionals and administrators.
This team will lead the college in creating our Safe Reopening Plan that will be presented to the Governing Board and the campus community. You can view their work so far, including important metrics, on their upcoming board agenda item.
I thank each and every person who has contributed to this team and for their commitment to create a safe plan to return to our campuses throughout South County.
The college’s Institutional Research and Planning Department has been closely following local and county COVID-19 metrics to track when it may be safe to reopen. That data accumulated since July 1 and additional tracking resources are included in a metrics PDF for public view.
The Decision Tree outlines important metrics we must meet before we consider moving forward. As of now, we don’t pass the second threshold and local South County data does not meet thresholds for reopening. South County has been the hardest hit region in San Diego County. We will continue to closely monitor data that encompasses many communities, several cities and unincorporated areas that are part of our service area.
Reopening Town Hall
We will hold an employee reopening town hall on Sept. 24 from noon to 1:30 p.m. to present a draft of our Safe Reopening Plan and to hear our employee’s concerns and ideas for the spring semester and beyond. We understand that specific classes and programs might have unique needs, and we understand that employees have many concerns about their safety and their students’ safety. This will be a moment to listen, to share, to discuss and I hope employees will take time to join us.
I hope everyone continues to stay safe, and thank you again for all your hard work. Have a great semester.