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President's Communiqué

A Message from President Nguyen

March 4, 2020

Greetings Foothill,

Despite the increase in recorded cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Santa Clara County, the risk to the general population is still low and the FHDA District is following CDC and Santa Clara Health Authority protocols.

Our college will send out a fourth message to students this week, noting that the college will remain open and if there are any changes, they (like employees) will receive alerts via text message and email with information posted on our website Coronavirus Updates page. We are working under the assumption that we will be open as normal for the foreseeable future.

Vice President Bret Watson is reviewing the Emergency Operations Center chart to update it with the current situation is mind. Please respond to him in a timely manner should he reach out to you. We hope that we will not need to use the EOC protocols, but we are preparing should the need arise.

Thank you to the Curriculum Committee: at its regular meeting yesterday, the committee discussed how to maintain instructional continuity in the unlikely event the college should be closed. They discussed contingency plans including using Zoom as an instructional tool. Dean of Online Learning Lené Whitley-Putz will be organizing quick tutorials in Zoom and Canvas to support any interested faculty. We will provide more information on these sessions, so stay tuned.

The college is procuring more hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and masks. We encourage employees to wipe down their work spaces and heavily-used communal spaces on a regular basis. It is also important to note that thoroughly washing one’s hands is actually more effective than hand sanitizer!

We are not mass-distributing masks around campus like we did during the fire/smoke situation since there are simply not enough masks available and, more importantly, the CDC and Santa Clara Health Agency note that masks should only be given to people who are actually exhibiting symptoms. Our Health Center has a supply of masks for this purpose. Please send students to our Health Center if they come to class exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Questions From Students

Our college solicited comments/questions from Foothill students and the following are some of those student questions:

Why are professors not talking about it [Covid-19] in class?

Instructors should definitely reinforce protocols for cleanliness and virus protection (and share the poster created for this purpose). Recognize that this is a concern for students, but note that the risk factor is still low and that the college is adhering to recommended protocols.

Are classes going to be canceled at Foothill?

We are not planning to cancel classes, but will reassess as the Covid-19 situation develops, in coordination with the District. The current risk levels are low, and there is no direction from public health officials to close campus.

Will there be a campus shutdown? Who's supposed to be telling us this?

There are no current plans to close the campus. If this does become necessary, the college will message directly to faculty, students, and staff – similar to past notifications during power outages and the like. The notice would also be posted on this website page.

If a student is sick with symptoms of the virus, their presence on campus will compromise the health of other students?

If a student comes to class with a fever/cough/sore throat, they should be directed to the Health Center immediately. We are advising them via the poster to go home until their symptoms have abated for at least 24 hours. Faculty should be prepared to make reasonable accommodations in cases of tests, missed lectures, etc. Kindness and empathy should be the rule of thumb.

How can other students protect themselves but still attend classes?

Follow the basic protocol (hand washing, etc.)

If students get the coronavirus, will they still have to take their final exams? Will that be handled on a case by case basis depending on the instructor?

Any student who becomes ill with the virus will be supported by the college. Our focus will be to make sure the student has appropriate medical care and follow public health officials' protocols. We anticipate working with the student’s instructors to agree on a sensible way for the student to successfully complete the class when they have recovered.

In the event of a campus shut down during class time/finals, would instructors be open to preparing online accessible content?

We are working to prepare for this scenario (should it occur) so that students are able to complete their course work successfully.

One of my friends witnessed a group of students in the cafeteria not wanting to sit next to an Asian student because they were scared.

There's a strong misconception among students that it's coming from China and that Chinese students are the problem.

The college will double its efforts to message directly to students on this topic. Any acts of discrimination should be reported. Please emphasize to students that no one is responsible for this virus and that we should not stigmatize students based on race, ethnicity, or nationality.

I want to know if we need to get our own masks or if the school will provide them. I haven't shopped for masks yet, but I heard they were sold out a couple of weeks ago.

Masks should only be used by students who are actually ill (have a fever, bad cough, shortness of breath, etc.). We do have masks at the Health Center for students who present these or any other flu-like symptoms.

Can we put flyers and information in the bathrooms?

There are flyers all over campus and we will put up more.

Coordination with the District Office:

Yesterday, Chancellor Miner convened a District meeting which included representatives (FA, ACE, administrators, etc.) from both colleges. (A subsequent meeting is being scheduled tomorrow - Thursday - at noon.)

A district communique is being developed to address some of the topics from Tuesday's meeting:

  • How do we maintain instructional continuity if we have to close the colleges for 14 days?
  • How do we support students who might not have access to computers (and, thus, cannot continue their classes online)?
  • How do we continue classes that are not using Canvas (PE, etc.)?
  • How will people be paid if District Offices are closed (should the campuses be closed)?
  • Do we need to provide deep cleansing of potentially contaminated rooms?
  • How do students in clinical placements continue their studies?
  • What happens to PDL plans that are disrupted? Conferences cancelled that have already been paid for?

The District meeting led by the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors yesterday was very productive. Questions related to working conditions will be answered by the District since these questions have labor union implications, along with a need for consistent messaging Districtwide.

The District is meeting with campus leaders to formulate responses to many of your questions. Please stay tuned.

The college will continue to follow CDC and Santa Clara County Health Agency recommended procedures. I greatly appreciate colleagues emailing me with questions and suggestions. Your care and concern for students and colleagues are greatly appreciated!

We will try to update you with the latest information on a regular basis. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Remember: wash your hands, don't touch your face with unclean hands, and sanitize your work area.

Of Service,

Thuy Thi Nguyen