March 10, 2020
As outlined in yesterday’s update, El Camino College’s COVID-19 task force has created a proactive plan developed and implemented using specific direction from the California Department of Public Health and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. The plan guides our response to the possible scenarios that may occur as the COVID-19 situation progresses. Below are some updates on key elements of the plan and its implementation.
Transition to Online Instruction
We’ve received several questions from members of the campus community about whether El Camino College will move from in-person to online academic instruction, and if so, when. Our plan is based on levels of impact to the campus. As you might imagine, providing instructional continuity via online delivery presents a number of logistical and technical challenges.
Work is underway now on providing faculty with training resources for using the Canvas course delivery software as well as video conferencing tools. We’re working towards making classes available online—per our plan, as conditions change. Additionally, if social distancing and self-quarantining at home become necessary, students can rest assured they will not be dropped from their courses.
A number of universities, in California and elsewhere, have already shifted to online instruction. However, it’s important to note many of these institutions have on-campus housing, which increases the risk of transmission, and are located in areas where the COVID-19 outbreak is especially severe. To date, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at El Camino College or the immediate community.
Feelings of apprehension about this situation are understandable. El Camino College must make decisions and implement changes based on conditions as they currently exist, while preparing for the future. We’re doing everything possible to be ready, if and when we need to take action based on changing conditions.
Cancellation of Non-Essential Travel
Concerns have also been expressed about another measure implemented by the Pandemic Outbreak Plan: the cancellation of some non-essential college-related travel, such as trips to conferences and study abroad programs. We recognize that students and faculty may be frustrated or disappointed by such cancellations.
However, these are unique circumstances and El Camino College’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety and well-being of the campus community. That includes making difficult choices about avoiding known risks of exposure to coronavirus, including large gatherings, airports, and highly impacted cities. Days ago, students from Cal State Long Beach were placed in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus during a conference in Washington, D.C. This is the type of situation the non-essential travel cancellation seeks to prevent.
On-Campus Cleaning and Hygiene
Knowing that good hygiene practices are critical to tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, El Camino College has taken a number of steps to ensure students and employees can better practice those habits on campus.
Additional quantities of hand sanitizer have been ordered, as well as more supplies of hand soap and paper towels, and cleaning and disinfecting products. Informational posters will be distributed around campus. Custodial staff are conducting twice-daily cleanings of all campus restrooms, ensuring they’re fully stocked with soap and towels. Each restroom’s status is documented. Additional temporary custodial workers are being hired to maintain high-usage areas of campus.
We continue to urge every member of the campus community to diligently follow best hygiene practices, including washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and avoiding close contact such as shaking hands.
The COVID-19 task force will hold its next meeting on Friday, March 13 to discuss the move to online instruction as conditions in this rapidly evolving situation change.