Southwestern College to Continue With Distance, Online Education for Spring 2021

Graphic that says "COVID-19 Update: Spring 2021 Semester"

Dear Southwestern College Community,

Today, Sept. 16, marks seven months that we have taught and worked remotely. The time has passed quickly and slowly with incredible challenges and just as many opportunities. We have watched once rigid bureaucracies begin to transform into innovative, flexible and student-centered systems. This could not have been possible without the amazing faculty, staff and administrators’ unwavering commitment to our students and their success.  

The safety of our students, employees and community remains the district’s most important priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 situation, especially in San Diego County, is extremely unpredictable. While the county public health order and state guidance allows the opening of schools, colleges and universities, we have watched as many colleges and universities are forced to pull back after only a week or two because of an outbreak or transmission. 

That is why Southwestern College will complete the 2020-2021 academic year with online and distance education and remain remote for the spring 2021 semester and January intersession. 


Similar to the fall 2020 semester, all spring 2021 semester classes will be offered through remote and online distance education. Our public safety and allied health programs remain the only exception and will be allowed to offer in-person learning. Our campuses and our facilities will remain closed for the entire spring semester. 

A decision on spring 2021 athletics will be made once guidance is provided by the California Community College Athletic Association in the coming weeks. 

Students should receive their spring 2021 semester registration information on Nov. 2, 2020, with priority registration beginning Nov. 10 and open registration beginning Nov. 23, 2020. Southwestern College will still hold a January Intersession from Jan. 4 to 27, 2021.

COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Our decision for how Southwestern College navigates the COVID-19 pandemic has and will be based on data and science. We closely monitor state and county data thresholds, however, we know that South County data looks very different from regional data. That’s why we created the Southwestern College Data Dashboard tracking local COVID data from our service area that will guide us on our safe reopening decisions. 


Employees will continue to work remotely while an Institutional Safe Reopening Plan is being developed. We have heard and recognize the challenges employees could face in their ability to return to onsite work including childcare and caregiving needs, being a member of a high-risk population, and more. Employees will only be allowed to return to work when a safe reopening plan is in place, flexibility in work schedules and remote work options have been negotiated, and a process is in place that provides flexibility to support both employee and college needs.

Safe Reopening Plan

We invite you to join us on Thursday, Sept. 24 at noon for our Fall Semester COVID-19 Town Hall to learn about the local data informing our decisions, receive a presentation on the draft institutional safe reopening plan and have an opportunity to provide feedback during its development, and ask any other COVID-related questions. Register at the Zoom link today.

Budget Implications

We recognize that staying remote in the spring semester can cause additional budget implications in the short-term and in the long-term. Student enrollment is down across the state, especially for classes that are difficult to convert. Employee costs associated with COVID-19 are not sustainable for the long term. We remain committed to our two guiding principles for decision-making:

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

As we plan for next year’s budget, we know the toughest budget environments will be in the following years. In times of uncertainty, transparency in decision-making and communication is critical.

The college will have tough budgetary decisions to make in future years. Everyone’s ideas and voices will be needed to navigate these future challenges.

How can you be involved?

  • The Proposed Adoption Budget will be posted on Board Docs as an information item on September 22, 2020. The Budget Book will be available for public viewing on the VP-BFA website.
  • Attend the Governing Board 2021-2022 Budget Workshop on Sept. 29, 2020 to learn about next year’s budget. Following board action at the October meeting, budget workshops will be held with the College Management Team, Academic Senate and Shared Consultation Committee for input. 
  • A district-wide budget forum is being planned in October. Also, if your school, department or constituency group would like a budget session with Vice President for Business & Financial Affairs Dr. Kelly Hall, please contact Andrea Cletus.
  • In addition, a task force will be created that includes constituency representatives to begin developing long-term budget reduction strategies—stay tuned for more information.

COVID’s impact will be felt globally, nationally and locally for years to come. Our students, faculty, staff and administrators continue to go above and beyond to keep giving our students access to education and a pathway to success. We will continue to move forward together and meet this extraordinary moment.

Southwestern College is resilient. Our community is resilient, and most importantly our students are resilient.  We will weather this storm together and emerge transformed and stronger.

With great respect,
Kindred Murillo
Southwestern College