The governor announced this week that students will not be returning to campuses for the rest of the academic year. Does that apply to the two schools in our district?
Yes. What we did this week, we had meetings with our faculty. With faculty, the Senate, and the faculty unions and classified staff. We conducted a survey.
And asked faculty: please tell us about number one, how you feel about completing this semester under remote instruction and just to give you some results, 84% of the faculty that were surveyed said yes let’s continue. 82% of the faculty at Santa Ana College all said yes. The vast majority obviously feel that we want to be able to continue temporary remote instruction. We will make an announcement tomorrow and send an email to students to let them know that we will continue with temporary mode instruction. The other decision that we’re trying to make, Lesly, is what to do about the summer session. Because the summer session’s coming up and what I don’t want us to do as a district is to just plan day to day. We need to plan as much into the future as we can. I have expressed to faculty that I believe we should also offer the summer session through remote instruction. And that decision, at least from my part is based upon what all of us are hearing. So again, if you heard the governor and his last few press conferences that he’s had, he anticipates us having a stay home order definitely into June. It could go definitely to the end of the summer. So again, you know what, I don’t want to do is start a semester or summer session through remote instruction and then in the middle change it. Don’t want to do that. It’ll cause confusion and chaos and definitely don’t want that to happen. So again we will have an announcement out tomorrow about the spring and I’m hoping to have an announcement early next week as it relates to the summer session. The other reason we want to be able to make a decision quickly about the summer session is because we need to begin to market and inform students so they they can make plans. We want to get that information out there as soon as we can so they know how this is going to work.
What are the financial implications of the college and how is the administration handling it right now?
Let me start at the 50,000 foot level with the legislature in Sacramento. As, as all of you know 90 plus percent of our dollars come from Sacramento. We depend a lot on decisions that are made at the legislature as to the dollars that we’re going to receive. The legislature right now is not meeting. They are off until April 13. We anticipate that that date may be extended possibly until mid-May. They’re not going to come together until mid May. We understand that when they do come together in mid-May, their primary discussion will be getting a budget passed, but also really dealing with all the emergencies that we have throughout the state. I’m sure everybody is knocking on their door asking, you know, will you be making additional dollars available to all of us. I’m sure it’s not just the community colleges. I’m sure the University California system is doing the same thing, the California State University system is doing that. K through 12. I’m sure everybody’s knocking on their door so we will. But right now, you know, we don’t know yet exactly what’s going to happen because they’re not meeting.
But we are communication with the number of legislative offices and as well as the governor’s office to let them know of our needs and because there were certain expenditures that we were not planning. For example, we weren’t planning to buy the laptops. We had to purchase to give to the students, to loan them t students We had to purchase a number of licenses, so we can have access to various online learning technologies. There was a lot of a lot of moving of dollars around so that students can have the resources, the technologies, as well as faculty their resources and technologies they needed to be able to convert from face to face to instruction literally overnight. So the money part, great question. I guess, in a nutshell, we still don’t know, which is kind of making all of us antsy but I think the, I believe that the state will come through, I believe that the state… They definitely recognize that you know we are facing some difficult financial challenges.
Construction is considered one of the 16 essential industries. Is construction on campus, like the health center and the Johnson center continuing on schedule or is that being pushed back?
No, it’s continuing on schedule. If you have been to SAC lately, you’ll see that construction is continuing. We do anticipate still having the something open in the fall. So it’s still on track. We anticipate having the Johnson Center opened, I think, it’s supposed to be next summer next fall, but it’s still on track. Luckily the governor stated that the construction is an essential function and it should continue. We were lucky there, because we were concerned that it was not going to be designated as one and that’s prolonging the construction.
We’re about three weeks in into temporary remote instruction. What are the biggest struggles you have seen our district has noticed with remote instruction. What are the faculty struggling with? What are the students telling you about these classes that they’re having online and what have you heard from equity services?
A lot of the information that we have received has been anecdotal. Which basically means that I’ve heard pieces of information. In order to address that, Santa Ana College conducted a survey where nearly 900 students responded and a lot of the questions that were asked of students were what you just asked me. How do they feel about the technologies they have access to them? How’s it going at home in terms of working in a home environment? We want to be able to have those results ready. We want to utilize that research that was done at Santa Ana College to help us make some key decisions. I think this week, SCC has conducted a similar survey because all of us are trying to get as much data as we can from students. We don’t want to make decisions on anecdotal information. We want to make them as scientifically possible as we can and that’s what the purpose of the surveys were. If I could hold off on responding to some of those concerns? Because I haven’t seen the final reports, and I do want to have those reports available and obviously make them available to students so that you could see in a nutshell how our students responding. But again, I’m very much of an advocate of using research to help us respond to questions because otherwise, our biases come into being and our beliefs come into being and I don’t want that to dictate our directions of where we want to go or policies that we want to develop. So, I’ll hold off on that response because I’m eager to also hear how students at SCC have also responded. Hopefully it’ll be similar results. But, you know, they’re always a little bit different. And I’m sure there will be a lot of similar results.
Students have been struggling to keep a disciplined routine and some no longer have the time to keep up with school because of their jobs. Have there been a significant drop in classes and are there any suggestions you would like to say to encourage our students at this time?
It was last week where State Chancellor Oakley provided some direction for all of us as to how we can facilitate the refunds of dollars to students if they wish to drop or withdraw from their classes. We have instituted that at the campuses now. To answer your question, have we seen a significant drop? We have not actually. A good number of our students have decided to stay in their classes. Which I was really happy to see that. Obviously, you know, there were some students that may have decided to drop, but it was not by means a significant number. In our adult education program there was a lot of classes they were not able to convert. And so it did affect a good number of the adult students. We want to be able to change that, we want to be able to fix that as much as we can so we can provide education to the adult education populations out there. But again, with the regular credit program where the majority of our students are enrolled we have not noticed at all a significant drop. In fact, most of them have continued. In fact, a good number of them want to know, just like the question you asked me earlier: Are we going to continue with remote instruction? Are we going to continue that even beyond the spring? Right now, I think that you know I’m sure some students are having a hard time transitioning from face to face to online education because I’m sure it’s not for everybody. I get that and understand that at the same time, you know, we’re not looking to have face to face instruction, because if we even if we did that, I don’t see a student coming to class and being there until a lot of this is over. We can’t do that anyway because we have an executive order that’s been issued by the governor that does not allow for us to do that. We continue to a survey students so we can offer that more as to what they’re doing. Again, I think the future challenges for us if we continue in this mode of instruction will continue to be for those students that can’t afford to pay for internet service. How do we help students pay for the cost of internet service? For those students who need a laptop, maybe they could not get a laptop now, we definitely want to be able to purchase personal laptops so they can have access to a modern laptop.
Not a five year old laptop that they haven’t used in a while that the no longer is adaptable to today’s technologies. That will continue to be a support that we want to give students. Obviously, the other issue that we’re facing now is as it relates to commencement ceremonies. Obviously, the executive order continues. I don’t see the executive order being done by early June. So we’re looking to postpone commencement ceremonies.
The colleges are looking at virtual remote technologies that they somehow can conduct a graduation. They’re looking into it. I’m not really sure what’s out there and and whether students will want to participate in some type of remote ceremony. But what we’re not going to have is, we’re not going to have obviously three to five-thousand people in an area because we just can’t do that. We’ll be in violation of the order of the governor’s executive order. That was one of the other announcements that I did want to make today. And unfortunately, students will not have an opportunity to participate in a commencement ceremony and I’m saddened by that because it is one of the highlights, one of the main activities that we do as an institution. But obviously we can’t do that right now.
What is the process for students need to drop? How do they apply for the emergency withdraw through SAC?
Good question. So I would say to this to make contact with the admissions offices, so definitely go to the website. And in the website it should have information for you as to what steps you can take in case you need to withdraw from a class. It should, at minimum, have a phone number for the admissions office so you can talk to someone. But definitely go to your websites on your campuses and if the information there, hopefully it’s there. It better be there! But if it’s not there, there should be an email address or phone number to connect to the admissions offices.
Also students, I’m sure many of them are connecting with our counselors. Connect with your counselors. I’m sure they will know what directions to give to students in case they need to withdraw from a class.
Can you explain a little bit about the Digital Dons program and how it’s expanding during this time? Is the district going to be investing in additional tech resources?
We certainly want to make that available. We are beginning to be in connection with the private sector with companies like AT&T to see how AT&T can work with us to provide the bundle where students can have access to the Internet. And we can raise the dollars here to make that available to students through AT&T. We want to be able to dedicate more dollars to helping students with laptops. You know what I would recommend to students is to definitely begin to let their faculty members know during the classes to connect with the campuses themselves. Once we know there’s a need, we will purchase more laptops. To be honest with you, the biggest challenge we have as it relates to purchasing more laptops is just the demand out there. The demand as you could imagine from everybody throughout the country is for more. Now everybody needs to buy laptops. And the reason for that is because everybody’s working online. Everybody staying home and working online, so that’s the biggest challenge that we have is because when we purchase laptops, we’re not just buying one, we’re asking to buy 200, 300. And they are going fast. They’re going fast because everything is moving online. Again, I would recommend to students to let us know now, right away, so we can begin to put in our orders to purchase laptops, because we’re in competition with everybody who needs laptops. I think, again, that’s just another example how as a country we’re not prepared. No one thought that the demand for laptops would be what it is today, which is it’s increased by 1,000% throughout the country. Again, I recommend to students to inform their faculty members, to inform their counselors, to inform the college of their needs. And then we could continue to make more laptops available.
There’s a big group of our students that are food insecure and part of that group is also students who happen to be homeless. What measures are our district taking in order to ensure that the students don’t drop out and ensure that they’re getting their needs met?
So just to let you know you know we have a number of student workers that are paid by the campuses and I have asked the campuses to continue paying those students until the end of the semester. Definitely don’t want to stop that many students depend upon that check. They depend upon that money to pay for their basic needs. And it’s not like there’s a lot of jobs out there. They can go out there and look for a job, but a restaurant or the like, those jobs are not there. So we are making a commitment to help the students with those costs. The foundations are out there raising money so we can continue to provide students with scholarships and with emergency loans to give them so that they have those dollars that they may need to pay for the cost of going to school. So, you know, again, this is happening so fast, as you know. It was a month ago, what today is April 2…March 2 we were all still in classrooms, face to face, and so forth, and a month later, it’s a whole different world. All of us are trying to work as fast as we can to help students. But again, I think what I would recommend students is to communicate with us in any way that they can via emails. They can send emails to me, they can send emails to their faculty members, because we need to know how we can help them and we don’t want to make any assumptions. We want to know, we can help. But again, I wanted to let all the students out there who are student workers, to let them know don’t worry about you’ve been laid off by the colleges. Know the colleges will continue to support you and we definitely are committed to doing that at least to the end of the semester. Whether we can continue at the end of the semester doing that, don’t know yet, but we definitely want to be able to continue supporting students
It’s great that the college is doing that because many students have lost their jobs and work at places that are not essential. It’s good to hear that our college is doing whatever they can in order to support students.
Lesly, last week the that federal stimulus bill was passed and signed off by President Trump. So that stimulus bill does provide assistance to those individuals. So the way that works, here’s the way I understand it. You could get, if you’re if you made up to $75,000 or less, you are eligible to receive a check of up to 1200 dollars. In order for you to qualify for that, you would have to have submitted your taxes in 2018 and they’re not looking at 2019 because you know…I’m sorry. Did I say 2018 or 2019? It’s 2019. So you would have to submit your taxes in order to be eligible. Unfortunately, the only the only individuals that don’t qualify are those individuals that are undocumented. So, you need to have a social security number, you need to have to submit it your taxes to be eligible. So if you’re married, you can be eligible for up to 42400 and you could get additional dollars depending on whether you have dependent children that are 17 years and younger. So again, you know, hopefully our students are aware of that or they should check with their tax accountants, if they submit taxes, to make sure that the tax accountants have that information. Because if you’re going to be eligible, that will help you tremendously. The other thing that has happened is they’ll have provided additional dollars for those students who have submitted for unemployment. So, you know, again, if you lost your job, you should go to the Employment Development Department, EDD. Go to the website to see how you could apply for unemployment. The federal stimulus bill provided additional dollars. Usually if you are unemployed and are eligible for unemployment, I think you get $450. With the federal stimulus bill, they added another $500 on top of that, so you’re able to get $900 or more per week. If you’ve been, you know, if you were unemployed, so definitely I would recommend to students who fall under those categories to go to the Employment Development, or the EDD website to see if you’re eligible and see if you can get access to those resources that are going to be out there relatively soon. Just coming back to the checks. My understanding is checks will begin to be issued in two to three weeks. Again, you know, check with your… whatever paid your taxes. I’m sure they would have information. The other thing I would advise do this is be careful who you talk to. A lot of people out there trying to rip people off and don’t give them any information, any of your personal information. So yeah, you know, because you have predators out there. Who are trying to take advantage of individuals who are in desperate need. And so again, just be careful about that.
Will the administration plan to do something in order to help those students who do not get stimulus checks?
I think that the first thing we want to be able to do is to help students with again just clarity and information as to how they can be eligible. So again, the way that this law reads, is that the if you’re 17 years older, you’re not eligible to get additional dollars. But if you are a couple and you made less than $150,000 last year, you are eligible for up to $2400. You could get more if you have dependent children for 17 years and younger. So for those individuals who are 17 years and older, obviously, you know, that couple can’t get reimbursed or can’t get additional dollars for them. But for those individuals who are 17 years and older if they were working and they obviously got laid off, they can go and apply for unemployment and again you know the
amount that everyone was getting prior to the stimulus for unemployment, I think I heard today from the governor mentioned the number of $446. But that amount, because of the stimulus bill, will be increased to think I heard a number of $936 per week, so that should help people tremendously with their costs paying rent or whatever else, whatever other payments that they have to make. What we can do to help, obviously, we can’t give students $936 a week. We’re not that type of agency. We can help students in other ways. Definitely with emergency loans, with scholarships, with access to laptops and as I mentioned to you earlier, we want to make sure that we can make the internet accessible to them. And we’re going to try to do that at no cost to them. No cost to students. These other costs, that’s not who we are as an agency, but we can definitely direct them to Employment Development Department and other agencies that can help them and they should take advantage of it because you know those dollars, you know that bill was passed, it was like 2.2 or 2.3 trillion. And those dollars come from taxes that all of us pay. So, you know, you should take advantage of that because you probably paid a lot of taxes. That’s what happened to this bill. My understanding at the federal side that they are talking about another stimulus bill. Because even though 2.2 trillion, it is a lot of money, no doubt, it’s not enough obviously for because they were trying to basically spread the wealth around to support as many groups or agencies or businesses as possible. And now they’re talking about another bill. It could be of the same size or more to begin to help again Americans and the public as much as possible because you know the prediction is that this will go for a long time. We could be well into the summer, if not longer. One thing that I wanted to let all of you know, if this continues, we’re beginning to have discussions about what to do about the fall. And whether the fall will continue with the stay at home order. So we want to continue to begin to prepare for a situation where we could also be in this environment in the fall.
And if that’s the case, we obviously want to let students know as soon as possible about what the schedule looks like so they know they can begin to identify the classes that they need to enroll in for the Fall. You know, where I would also love to hear from students is about our students services, our library services. tutoring services, if they are taking advantage of them. Or if they’re not taking advantage of them. And why not? How do we make the maybe easier to access or for better use. We need to hear from students about those areas too. No doubt we want to continue to hear about the instructional programs, the classes that they enrolled in. But also, we want to hear about the library. Are they using the virtual library services? We want to hear about tutoring, because I’m sure students still need tutoring. Are they taking tutoring services, and if not, why not? I’m sure students who are about to graduate are trying to find out, ‘Am I on path to graduate?’ How can I double check whether I’m going in that direction so I can begin to send my transcripts to the universities that I would like to transfer to. For those students who are going to be transferring, definitely check with both universities to see about the how they’re going to conduct enrollment there. My understanding is that the UCS are relaxing a lot of their admissions requirements. And they should try to make contact with all schools to get as much information that they can. So again, you know, the best way to deal with this crisis is to check the information that’s out there and if that information does not exist, let us know. I don’t take it personal if you want if you need to let me know that it doesn’t exist just, you know, again, this is all new to us. We just, I keep saying, you know, March 2, which is a month ago, it was a whole different world. And now, a month later, we’ve had to make some major adjustments. I would definitely continue to encourage students to communicate with us.
A lot of universities are switching other classes to pass or fail. Will Santa Ana College do that as well?
Good question. We haven’t got into a lot of detail with that discussion, but I’m sure that we will.
You know, that’s usually a decision that I leave to our faculty and our faculty Senates.
I’m sure we’ll hear from them. But at this point I really have nothing to report because there’s no decisions that have been made about this.