COVID-19 Outbreak Forces Academic Institutions to Move Classes Online Across the Bay Area

By Jennifer Yin

San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency on Feb. 26 in preparation for a possible outbreak of the COVID-19/Coronavirus, a newly emerged form of coronavirus which has not previously been seen in humans. 

According to San Francisco’s news station KRON4, there were 28 positive cases of the new virus in San Francisco as of March 14.

Some confirmed COVID-19 cases include Lowell High School where San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) received wind that a parent of a student was being treated for COVID-19. Academic institutions across the Bay Area such as Lowell High School, City College, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University have been forced to shut down to combat the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases.

On March 12, SFUSD decided to close all of its schools for at least three weeks.

“It was inevitable based on worldwide data that San Francisco would experience an increasing number of cases in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Curtis Chan of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH).

Chan recommended that City College close its buildings, suspend face-to-face classes, and halt events, for at least 14 days.

On March 9, the City College Board of Trustees announced the temporary suspension of all face-to-face classes, student services, meetings, and events. 

A college statement released on March 12 stated, “All centers will be closed. Student services are suspended at CCSF locations during this time. Administrators, faculty, and classified staff will have access to campus buildings as a part of this preparation activity. All centers will be closed March 18 through March 20, librarian faculty shall work from home to prepare for the resumption of instruction and student services on Mar. 30, and student workers will not report to their normal assignments for the period March 13 to March 20.” 

In addition, City College will reassign its spring break vacation to the week of March 23 to enable the college to complete a contingency plan for continuing instruction through online services and modified learning. 

Modified learning is defined as a class that is delivered remotely through online programs such as Canvas, a web-based learning management system. 

To learn more about Canvas the college released the provided link,  

“The core of our contingency plan is not the decision to close the college itself, but how, given a suspension of normal face-to-face classes and activities, we will continue teaching, learning and operations so that students will complete their courses this semester and employees will be paid,” Chancellor Mark Rocha said.

Chief of Staff Leslie Milloy also explained how classes are scheduled to resume on March 30, through modified online learning formats and will remain in these formats until the end of the Spring semester or until the current state of emergency is officially lifted by the Board of Trustees. 

Concerns regarding the implementation of online courses and services were discussed in a March 4 Academic Senate meeting. 

“What does the work look like for us if we are to shut down? There still is an expectation from us to do our jobs and I think there definitely needs to be a plan,” Nixora Ferman, faculty at the New Student Counseling Department said. “You can’t just be on the fly about this and expect us to process petitions, certificates, transfers, and whatnot.” 

Sign in front of the Student Health Center at Ocean Campus urges students with symptoms of COVID-19 to call and set up an appointment. Photo by Matheus Maynard/The Guardsman

A letter written by the college and addressed to the students stated how City College is preparing to continue providing access to computers and supporting students with limited access to technology. The college will also continue accommodations for Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) students. 

However, Dean of Library and Learning Resources Donna Reed said, “We have decided not to make a statement about services post-spring break at this time because of changes that we see happening in the community. Please tell students to refer to the link at the top of the library website. As soon as we know enough to project the scope of in-person services that we can provide we’ll post there.”

Brent Gannetta, 42, a Computer Science major said, “If you go to the library there is a bunch of people sitting with their heads down and there’s food around them. Those are the homeless students and I’ve heard people talking in the library saying, ‘I don’t have anywhere to go, what am I going to do, I don’t know if the library is going to be open next week.’ They don’t have internet access outside of this. It’s a really scary proposition for them.”

Chancellor Mark Rocha stated, “Perhaps most importantly we will be establishing this week a phone hotline/internet chatline so that any member of the college community can talk

to a helpful person with a question, concern or even for practical advice and referrals. We want to know about anyone who is in distress for any reason so that we can help.” 

One thought on “COVID-19 Outbreak Forces Academic Institutions to Move Classes Online Across the Bay Area

  • Diane Carter

    I believe that the best resolution of leadership for City College of San Francisco would be to make the superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District the Administrator. This would facilitate the efficient operation of K-12 San Francisco Schools and provide all San Francisco students access to free City College in their own community facilitating access to higher education for San Francisco students who will be able to pay for completion of a special degree at a University after receiving therir AA or AS degree for free in the San Francisco Community College.
    Conjoined administration of the San Francisco Educational facilities for K-12 and the first two years of Community College will facilitate talented children in the K-12 grades to accelerate the first two years of their college educational requirements for free in their home community and will save parents and emancipated youth cost on the first two years of undergraduate college expenses. Moreover, it will permit the federal government to fund many more student loans to qualified students who achieve their AA or AS degrees from City College. It will also provide certificate programs for students who do not want to pursue a University education after two year college programs.

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