San Mateo County Community College District Will Remain Mostly Online for Summer and Fall 2021

Healthcare and Emergency Services Training Are Priority for In-Person Classes

February 26, 2021 – The three colleges of the San Mateo County Community College District – Cañada College, College of San Mateo and Skyline College – will continue to hold courses in online and distance education modalities, as well as provide most student services remotely, through the end of the Fall 2021 semester. Most employees will also continue to work remotely through Fall 2021. The San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees formally ratified the decision in their meeting on Feb. 24.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said SMCCCD Chancellor Michael Claire. “Even though we all want to get back to our beautiful college campuses, we will do so in a thoughtful and deliberate way. We are optimistic that as vaccines become more widely distributed in the summer and fall we will be able to restore more in-person classes and services to students next year.”

In-person instruction will continue for certain essential infrastructure sectors–healthcare, emergency services, and transportation fields, as well as critical STEM labs in key transfer areas, and to meet licensing requirements for career education programs–in order to train first responders and healthcare workers to address urgent community needs and to provide direct pathways to employment. Due to criteria set by the State that include requirements for social distancing, classroom/lab sanitization procedures, and other health precautions, the number of people at SMCCCD campuses will be kept at a minimum.

The District is receiving $13.3 million in federal Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEERF II) stimulus funding. Of that, almost two-thirds will be distributed directly to students to assist with financial challenges and the remainder will be used to offset costs incurred by the colleges for COVID-related expenses such as technology, health & safety equipment, and training. 

The District has launched a number of programs to help students cope with the ongoing crisis. Drive-Up WiFi service is available to help students attend online classes and complete their schoolwork. In a partnership with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, the District offers free food distribution on Wednesdays at Skyline College, and Fridays at College of San Mateo. To date, the District has distributed more than 2 million pounds of food worth $3.8 million to 50,000 families. The three Colleges are also loaning Chromebooks, WiFi hotspots and other supplies to students. Healthcare and personal counseling services are available via telemedicine free of charge to students.

District Emergency Food Distribution Has Served 50,000 Families

As we near the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in our region, the San Mateo County Community College District Emergency Food Distribution program has provided free groceries to a total of 50,000 families. The CSM food distribution site has operated on Fridays for 38 weeks, and the Wednesday program at Skyline College has operated for 22 weeks.

Over that time, the District has distributed a combined 2 million pounds of food worth $3.8 million to the public. The program is a partnership with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, which provides food boxes to District sites each week. The distributions rely on a network of District and College staff who volunteer their time, as well as volunteers from local companies and other organizations.

To see the Emergency Food Distribution in action, watch this YouTube video.

For more information see www.shfb.org

Looking Back at 2020

In this extraordinary year, The San Mateo County Community College District has innovated and pivoted to continue serving our students. Faculty and staff set up their home offices, reached out to students, and adapted courses to online format. Students, once again, showed their resolve and resilience in moving to online education.

Our students were already facing significant challenges in terms of housing, transportation, access to food, financial security, and equity in the classroom. The pandemic has only intensified those challenges. In response, the District adapted some student basic needs supports and launched several new ones:

San Mateo County Community College District Emergency Food Distribution
The District partnered with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley to launch a Friday food distribution program at CSM. The program quickly reached its maximum capacity of serving 1,000 families per week. To date the program has distributed 1.2 million pounds of food, worth more than $2 million, to more than 27,000 families.

In September, Skyline College added a food distribution program on Wednesdays. To date the program has distributed 300,000 pounds of food, worth $537,000, to 7,500 families.

Emergency Food Card Program
Before the pandemic struck, the District had begun to distribute monthly vouchers for free groceries to students identified as having food insecurity challenges. With campuses closed, the vouchers are now distributed digitally. About 1,600 students have received more than $1 million in grocery vouchers to date. The District has funded another $1 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Housing
The District allocated and distributed $100,000 in emergency funding to students for housing during the pandemic and set up a case management system to assist students with housing needs. The District SparkPoint Centers have also built a partnership with United Way Bay Area to provide rental assistance to students. About 30 students received housing vouchers this fall worth $1,750 each.

Chromebook and Hotspot Distribution
Without access to campus computers and wifi, many students were left without the technology they needed to continue their studies. The District acquired hundreds of Chromebooks and wifi hotspots to loan to students. This fall, about 400 Chromebooks are on loan to students, as well as 422 hotspots, and 128 calculators.

Drive-Up WiFi
Students can now make reservations online for a parking space in designated wifi parking lots. Students work from their cars, and campus restroom facilities are available.

Telemedicine
Using secure HIPAA-compliant Zoom technology, the College Health Centers now offer free telemedicine appointments to students. The telemedicine clinics offer medical advice, tuberculosis screenings, lab orders, some prescription refills, evaluation and treatment of illnesses and injuries, and referrals to other providers.

Flu Shot Clinics
The Health Centers have partnered with San Mateo County Health to offer free flu shots to employees and students. Each campus hosted a drive-through flu shot clinic in November or December.

Face-to-Face Instruction
With the community in need of healthcare workers, first responders, and job training/retraining programs, the District began piloting face-to-face instructional programs in the summer. While instructors have been able to convert most courses to a fully online format, not all instruction can take place remotely. Thanks to big support efforts from Facilities, ITS, and Public Safety, classes that must meet face-to-face are now doing so.

As of this fall, more than 700 students are participating in some form of on-campus instruction as part of their curriculum. A sampling of these courses includes:

Cañada College:
Medical Assisting
Radiology Technology

College of San Mateo:
Dentistry
EMT
Fire Academy
Nursing

Skyline College:
Automotive Technology
Cosmetology
Surgery Technology
Respiratory Care
STEM labs

District Set to Approve ADA Transition and Self Evaluation

The District’s draft ADA Transition Plan and ADA Self-Evaluation have gone to the SMCCCD Board of Trustees for approval in its Feb. 24 meeting. The draft plans were published last fall for review and comment by our District community and the public, and that input has been included in the final draft. The plans cover all three campuses and the District Office. See smccd.edu/ada2020 for details.

We Salute Our Essential Workers

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, certain categories of professionals have been designated “essential workers” for their role in maintaining the health and safety of the community. While most of our classified staff, faculty, and administrators work from home, these employees still come to work to keep campuses, buildings and technology running smoothly to support the District’s educational mission. With three college campuses and the District Office to support, and with the complexities of intensive sanitization and safety procedures, these teams are more essential than ever.

Facilities
The District Facilities team continues to work full time during the pandemic. Every classroom, lab, hallway, staircase, door handle and elevator associated with a face-to-face class must be sanitized every day in order to keep people safe. Approximately 85 groundskeepers, engineers and custodians are onsite every day.  Three facilities managers and three custodial supervisors, and a project coordinator oversee these operations. 

Prior to the pandemic, the Facilities custodians had already been certified hospital-grade cleaning and disinfecting techniques by the Cleaning Management Institute. They have kept up to speed on Coronavirus sanitization techniques by participating in workshops through the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC). Teams also now use a specialized Clorox 360 electrostatic disinfecting machine.

The team also continues to maintain District physical assets, monitoring central boiler and chiller plants, monitoring critical life safety and building systems, and performing regular grounds keeping. 

Information Technology Services  
With most employees working remotely, and nearly all classes being taught online, technology is more important than ever. A team of 30 information technology professionals is on campus every day to support the District’s networks infrastructure, learning management systems, databases, business and records systems, communications systems, websites, and equipment. The team provides remote technical support for employees working from home, loans laptops and other equipment to employees and students, and has built the infrastructure to offer free Wi-Fi for students in the college parking lots.

Public Safety
The pandemic and its restrictions make safety, security, and controlling campus access of paramount importance. Access to the campuses and their buildings must be protected in order to offer food and technology distributions, face-to-face classes, and other high-priority campus operations. A team of 37 Public Safety employees makes this possible, working round-the-clock onsite at the three campuses.

Public Safety added six temporary employees to assist with staffing the campus access points, where people are screened for entry to the campuses. These employees work outside in summer heat, winter cold, rain and smoke, and have become experts at safely contacting and communicating with hundreds of people at our access points.

A grateful community member brought flowers to Officer Zorie Gomez, in appreciation of Officer Gomez’ cheerful and helpful disposition every week at the entrance of the District Emergency Food Distribution event.
A grateful community member brought flowers to Officer Zorie Gomez, in appreciation of Officer Gomez’ cheerful and helpful disposition every week at the entrance of the District Emergency Food Distribution event.

Public Safety has assigned several employees to assist with the facilitation of every food distribution event at Skyline and CSM since they began. Officers also assist with other campus operations like technology distributions and flu shot clinics.  

The Public Safety emergency manager and emergency management coordinator have taken a lead role in the startup and ongoing work of the District’s Emergency Operations Center.

For Students: How to change your grading options this semester

We are more than halfway through the Fall 2020 semester and would like to remind you that you have the ability to change grading options on courses until the last day of the course. You can use WebSMART to do the following:

  • Withdraw from a course with an “EW-Excused Withdrawal”
  • Change the Grading Option from Letter Grade to Pass/No Pass or Vice Versa

To determine how these options will affect your educational goal, financial aid, and/or transfer status, please meet with a counselor BEFORE making any change.

Keep in mind that we are not giving “F” grades for Fall 2020, due to the extraordinary hardship students are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instread, anyone not passing a class will receive an “NP” grade, which does not have an impact on your GPA.

Please be aware that these options will be available up to the last day of instruction for the class, before the week of final exams. You can find the last date for your specific course on WebSchedule by clicking on the course and scrolling down to “critical dates for this course.”  You can also locate the specific dates for your course on WebSMART by going into the Student Services tab and under Registration. Your schedule will appear with the Important Dates.

You also have up to a year after the course ends to request a withdrawal: just fill out the online request form and send to your college Admissions & Records office.

Thank you,
Admissions and Records

Contact Us:
Cañada College Counseling Center
College of San Mateo Counseling Center
Skyline College Counseling Center

Or visit the Virtual Campus

José Nuñez Receives Leadership Achievement Award from California College Facility Coalition

At its annual conference in November, the California College Facility Coalition (CCFC) presented its Paul Holmes Facilities Leadership Achievement Award to Jose Nuñez, Vice Chancellor of Facilities Planning, Maintenance & Operations. The award is given each year to a state community college facilities leader who demonstrates a commitment and dedication to the organization’s mission and vision of enhancing facilities for the students of California’s community colleges.

In the awards presentation, Nuñez was recognized by his peers for his accomplishments at the District as well as his impact across the state. They cited his mentorship of many successful community college facilities professionals, his support of talent within his own organization, and for creating networks for sharing and problem-solving across districts. According to CCFC, Nuñez was the first to utilize the design-build project delivery method in Northern California and has been a leader in sustainability and the COVID-19 response. 

The District’s Facilities Planning, Maintenance and Operations team operates under a “Facilities Excellence” philosophy, and colleagues across the District are familiar with his “Team Work  =  One Team!” mantra.

Nuñez served 22 years with the U.S. Army, retiring as a major.  During his military career, Major Nuñez served in numerous infantry and foreign assignments around the world.

Daman Grewal Becomes District Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

After a comprehensive search process and final approval from the Board of Trustees, Daman Grewal was named District Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  The Chancellor announced the appointment to District employees on November 2.

Grewal oversees the District’s Information Technology Services (ITS) office, which includes 30 staff working at the three colleges and the District Office. He and his team are responsible for providing students and employees with business technology, learning management systems, databases, communications systems, websites, phone, computers, and many other essential tools for supporting the District’s educational mission. 

“Daman is a well-experienced professional with exceptional knowledge, skills and abilities to lead teams, build consensus, and provide sound guidance and advice and to facilitate processes that engage stakeholders from across the District,” Chancellor Claire said in his announcement. “I am confident that he will continue to serve the District well in his role as our Chief Technology Officer.”

Prior to joining the District as a contract employee with Strata Information Group in 2019, Grewal held many senior IT roles in higher education, including as Chief Information Technology Officer at City College of San Francisco, Chief Information Officer at the Cal State Maritime Academy, Director of Technical Services at Ohlone Community College District, and an IT Services Manager at Stanford University.  He received a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Delhi University (India) and an MBA from the University of Lincoln (England).

Cañada College and Skyline College Vice Presidents Earn Top State Award

The Carter Doran Leadership Award is given annually to honor leaders in community college instruction

California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers (CCCCIO) has bestowed its top award on two vice presidents from the San Mateo County Community College District. Dr. Tammy Robinson, Vice President of Instruction at Cañada College in Redwood City, and Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza, Vice President of Instruction at Skyline College in San Bruno, were honored with the statewide Carter Dolan Chief Instructional Officer Leadership Award at CCCCIO’s virtual conference last week.  The award recognizes an active instructional administrator who exemplifies leadership by showing qualities that Carter Doran embodied in his role as teacher/dean at Mt. San Antonio and Vice President of Instruction at Santa Ana and College of the Canyons.

“Dr. Robinson and Dr. Taylor-Mendoza have exemplified courageous leadership and embody the spirit of the Carter Doran Leadership award,” said CCCCIO President Dr. Jennifer Vega La Serna. “They have led with heart, demonstrated creativity, shown sustained commitment to addressing instructional challenges, and together have made a profound impact on their colleges and the entire California Community College System.”

Also honored with the award was Dr. Stacy Thompson, Vice President of Academic Services at Chabot College in Hayward. The three vice presidents worked together in 2020 to lead an examination of equity gaps and structural racism in the California community college system.

 “Dr. Robinson and Dr. Taylor-Mendoza are truly exceptional leaders, with vision and strength that have not only facilitated transformation at Cañada College and Skyline College but have also sparked action across the state community college system,” said San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor Michael Claire. “I am so proud of them and their  colleagues statewide for their swift action on behalf of our students.”

Dr. Robinson was cited for rallying her statewide chief instructional officer colleagues to action after the murder of George Floyd earlier this year. She helped to organize state instructional leaders’ Call to Action town halls, and she has been a strong voice for institutional change. She has spoken at a number of statewide events on campus climate, equity and workforce development.

Dr. Tammy Robinson, Vice President of Instruction, Cañada College

Dr. Robinson, along with Dr. Thompson, created, planned, facilitated and presented at the inaugural African American Leadership Institute. She is past president of the Western Regional Council on Black American Affairs and currently serves as the organization’s Vice President of Development.


Dr. Taylor-Mendoza serves as the chief instructional officers’ representative to the State Chancellor’s Office Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) implementation workgroup. She is also the chair of the newly created CCCCIO DEI Steering Committee, bringing together seven chief instructional officers to serve as strategy leads.

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza, Vice President of Instruction, Skyline College

Dr. Taylor-Mendoza is also a co-author of the book “Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges: Theory and Practice in Achieving Educational Equity.” The book has been shared nationally and locally and has become a resource for colleges in addressing the equity gaps that have become even more evident during the current pandemic.

Free Drive-Up Wi-Fi Now Available for SMCCCD Students

The San Mateo County Community College District now offers free Wi-Fi access for students at all three campuses. The new “Drive-Up Wi-Fi” service allows students to park in a specially designated parking lot on the campus of their choice, where they can access Wi-Fi to attend online classes or do schoolwork.

The program was made possible by an all-District team of staff and administrators who have been working to design a system that provides convenient student Wi-Fi access while maintaining District health and safety requirements during the pandemic.

Reservations are required. Students can pick the campus most convenient to them, fill out the Eventbrite reservation form, print or download their Eventbrite ticket, and follow the instructions. Restrooms are available. Students have in/out privileges for the Drive-Up Wi-Fi lot between 6am – 8pm.

Drive-Up Wi-Fi Website/Reservations

Student Drive-Up Wi-Fi Hours
Cañada College:
Monday – Friday, 6 am – 8 pm

College of San Mateo:
Monday – Saturday (except Fridays), 6 am – 8 pm

Skyline College:
Monday – Friday (except Wednesdays), 6 am – 8 pm

Student Drive-Up Wi-Fi Rules

  • Review COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if you are sick 
  • Make a reservation on Eventbrite and bring your ticket to campus
  • Check in at the Public Safety Access Point
  • Drive to the Wi-Fi lot and park in any space with a GREEN cone
  • Only members of the same household in each vehicle
  • All vehicle occupants must remain in the vehicle except to use restrooms
  • Read and follow all rules on your Eventbrite ticket
  • Abide by the Student Code of Ethics

For more information, please see the District Drive-Up Wi-Fi website.