Chancellor's message: Coronavirus update 3-10-2020

March 10, 2020 | San Diego Community College District

SDCCD Colleagues and Friends:

Since the previous Update, the Presidents, the Chancellor’s Cabinet, and I have continued to focus on planning and decisions related to the spreading coronavirus/COVID-19 epidemic. We have kept in regular touch with health agencies and we have been closely following the actions of other institutions of higher education, both universities and community colleges. Let me share with you some of the new activities and decisions that have been undertaken and made.


City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education are working with District Instructional Services/Online & Distributed Learning to plan for and begin the conversion of classes from onsite to online. It is understood that this is a complex undertaking and that some classes with laboratory or other hands-on components will have difficulty with this conversion. Efforts have been made to work with accreditors and others to see how this problem can best be surmounted. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges, has already indicated that they have the permission of the U.S. Department of Education to relax their requirements for online instruction in order to support institutions that will be converting classes to the online distance education modality during the present crisis:

Related story - Inside Higher Ed: Campuses close due to virus

The Department of Education is providing broad approval to institutions to use online technologies to accommodate students on a temporary basis, without going through the regular approval process of the Department in the event that an institution is otherwise required to seek departmental approval for the use or expansion of distance learning programs. ...  We are also permitting accreditors to waive their distance education review requirements for institutions working to accommodate students whose enrollment is otherwise interrupted as a result of COVID-19.

In addition, we are reaching out to other licensure organizations to see if hands-on or simulation adjustments can be modified, such as in Nursing programs.  Since some hospitals have also cancelled their clinical placements, we will need to find alternatives.

We are proceeding to file the “Emergency Blanket Distance Education Addendum,” issued by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office:

In the event of an emergency, a college may request approval for a temporary “Blanket Distance Education Addendum” from the State Chancellor’s Office to satisfy the requirements included in Title 5, Section 55206.  Such a request will be considered valid only for the designated time period and does not replace the standard local approval process. 

This week, the SDCCD Colleges and Continuing Education are seeking approval for an Emergency Blanket Distance Education Addendum from the State Chancellor’s Office, for the estimated effective dates of March 16 through June 1, 2020. However, the actual conversions will be incrementally implemented between March 16 and March 31. Also, this week, as I noted earlier, communication will be emailed to students and faculty regarding the transition to temporary online classes, including the support services that are available to students who will take temporary online classes (e.g., online student success tutorials, copyright guidelines, and access to tutoring, library, Canvas Help Desk, and bookstore).

Meanwhile, the College/CE Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Deans are already working with department chairs and faculty members to begin the process of converting classes to an online format, via Zoom or Canvas, along with professional development training to assist instructors who are not familiar with the online modality.  The Vice Chancellor of Instruction and the Dean of Online & Distributed Learning will be coordinating the campus plans once these have been developed.  We must do this expeditiously since we do not know when a closure may occur. We believe that this is just a matter of time. 

All students are being notified to make plans for this conversion, by ensuring that they have access to computers or smartphones to prepare for this inevitable change. You will see in the attachment that many institutions across the nation have already made this conversion. We hope to have our plan in place by the end of this week.


All Study Abroad programs that have been scheduled for this coming summer are canceled. This will affect the two City College trips: Havana, Cuba, and San Jose, Costa Rica; and the Mesa College trip: Madrid, Spain.


Nonessential travel is strongly discouraged.  Many national and state professional organizations have already canceled their annual conferences.  For example, the largest community college conference, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) just canceled its 100th anniversary national conference yesterday morning. Unless someone is actually required to travel, we strongly advise against attending conferences  where exposure to COVID-19 may be likely.  Both professional and vacation travel to areas where there are numerous COVID-19 cases and which have warning levels, should be avoided.


Because some type of future closure seems to be inevitable, we will be working on ways to accommodate more people who may need to work from home.  Human Resources and Information Technology are presently looking into options to assist.  Information will be shared about this in a future Update.


The maintenance staff districtwide has shifted priorities to cleaning high-touch common areas, especially doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces. Individuals are responsible for providing sanitizers for their own use.


We are taking a hard look at all scheduled public events.One event, the annual Take Our Children to Work Day, is canceled. Other events are being assessed and my next update will address which will continue and which will be canceled.

You will continue to receive updates as we move ahead with our plans. Please also see the District’s website on this situation,

Dr. Constance M. Carroll

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