January 21, 2021, Santa Rosa - As we begin this spring semester once again in a remote work and learning environment, I’d like to express my great appreciation for the incredible faculty, staff, and administrators who have shown unparalleled resiliency and determination to provide educational opportunities for students during this uniquely challenging year. When 2020 continued to put up roadblocks, you persevered and helped our students continue to pursue their dreams of higher education. I am proud to be a part of such a compassionate and generous community.
While this new year brings us hope and the promise of better days ahead, we continue to move forward cautiously as we consider when SRJC may reopen the classroom doors. After consulting with the board of trustees, my vice presidents, faculty, classified and management leadership, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley and Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase, I have made the decision to maintain remote instruction and student services at SRJC through summer 2021.
While I do not make this decision lightly, it is clear to me that the current infection and mortality rates in Sonoma County are far too high to consider a full return to face-to-face instruction. Other colleges and universities across the U.S. reopened for in-person classes too early and saw a dramatic increase in COVID infections. The safety of our students, employees and community members remains the top priority at SRJC and while we look forward to the day when we can come together again, we will not risk the health and wellness of our community to do so.
In order to make sure that our SRJC community has the most up-to-date information possible, I have been meeting with Sonoma County health officials and the Sonoma County Office of Education regarding their plans for vaccine rollout. Information is limited and changing at this time, and I will provide additional updates as we learn more.
I do hope that this decision provides a small bit of certainty during this uncertain time and provides our faculty, staff and administrators the time to plan for a remote summer semester. I’d also like the thank all of you who provided me your ideas and advice throughout this process, which was extremely beneficial in helping guide my decision. I will provide more information in March regarding the format for instruction for fall 2021.
At this time, we are planning to move forward in the following manner, through the end of summer 2021:
- SRJC will continue to operate most instructional programs and student services remotely through the end of the summer semester.
- It is the district’s intent to utilize the contingency planning process and criteria AFA and the district negotiated for fall 2020 to develop a prioritized list of courses for summer 2021 requiring in-person instruction to be presented to the County Department of Health. This process applies to all courses requiring any form of in-person instruction or activity, including those in Health Sciences programs and at the Public Safety Training Center. Once these courses are approved, we will continue to work alongside faculty and staff in these areas utilizing SRJC’s negotiated social distancing and in-person instruction protocols to protect the health and safety of our college community.
- During this time, we will continue to follow the current guidelines regarding essential workers on campus, which you can review in the Employee FAQs and Faculty FAQs. While we anticipate remaining in a remote format for a while, we will be constantly assessing the latest protocols from the state and the county to determine when the non-instructional operations of the district could resume in a limited or modified face-to-face format.
- We will not hold any mass gatherings on campus during this time, in accordance with health department recommendations. This includes the 2021 Commencement, Celebrate CE, the President’s Address and the SRJC Foundation Friends of Petaluma Campus Trust Building Community Breakfast, all of which will be provided in an online format. More details will follow.
- Please feel free to continue to utilize the following webpages for additional information, as these are being updated regularly, including the FAQs for students and employees.
Please know that I am endlessly appreciative of the dedication you have all shown to our students, while continuing to adapt to this new and ever changing environment. Thank you for everything you are doing right now, and all that you do every day.
Frank Chong, Ed.D.