San Mateo County Community College District Courses Remain Mainly Online for Spring 2021 Term

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 Spring 2021 semester. The San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees formally ratified the decision in their meeting on Sept. 23.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt higher education along with every other sector,” said SMCCCD Chancellor Mike Claire. “This decision allows our employees to plan ahead for a successful spring semester, and it lets students know what to expect. Staying online is the best way to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe.”

The Board’s decision was based on the recommendation of the Chancellor and supported by a recommendation from the District Academic Senate. Faculty, staff and students have expressed a need to have as much time as possible to plan for the spring term.

Most employees will also continue to work remotely through May 2021.

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.

During summer 2020, Colleges provided a massive professional development program to train instructors in online education. Approximately 600 college faculty participated, as well as dual enrollment faculty, faculty instructors, and other support staff. The training program was supported by more than $1.4 million in Federal CARES Act funding as well as District funds.

The District has launched a number of programs to help students cope with the ongoing crisis. Drive-Up WiFi service is available six days a week to help students attend online classes and complete their schoolwork. In a partnership with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, the District now offers free food distribution on Wednesdays at Skyline College, and Fridays at College of San Mateo. The District is distributing more than $4.2 million in federal CARES Act funding to students to assist with financial challenges. The three Colleges have been distributing loaner Chromebooks, WiFi hotspots and other supplies to students. Healthcare services are available via telemedicine free of charge to students.

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.  

San Mateo County Community College District Food Insecurity Program Expands to Skyline College

More than 19,000 Families Have Received Food To Date

The San Mateo County Community College District Emergency Food Distribution has added a second location at Skyline College to its weekly services. The program launched on Wednesday, September 2.

The CSM food distribution has served more than 19,000 families since it began on April 3. With Second Harvest locations in the Bay Area running at full capacity, there was a need for additional locations. Skyline College’s SparkPoint Center partnered with Second Harvest to establish the new program.

The weekly Emergency Food Distribution Schedule is now:

Skyline College
Wednesdays, 11am – 1pm
Enter campus via Skyline Drive

College of San Mateo
Fridays, 11am – 1pm
Enter campus via West Hillsdale Blvd

The SMCCCD District Emergency Food Distribution continues to provide a critical basic need for the community during the COVID-19 crisis, helping to offset the effects of unemployment and school closures. The program has made a significant impact since starting in April:  

  • 19,100 families served
  • 754,540 pounds of food distributed
  • $1.13 million in groceries costs offset for families

Food boxes are supplied through a partnership with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. Each family receives a 39-pound box of food worth about $60. The food distribution is open to the public and serves a large number of college students as well as community members.

Prior to the pandemic, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley was already providing food to about 260,000 people per month in the Bay Area. By June, that number skyrocketed to more than 500,000 people per month. The demand has remained at that level and is expected to continue for another 12-18 months. 

Other SMCCCD Food Distribution Programs
In addition, the District purchases and mails Safeway food cards, each worth $75-150, to about 800 food-insecure students each month. Since March, the district has sent more than 4,800 Safeway cards worth $467,000 to students who need food.

The San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation has set up an emergency fund to support these efforts as well as emergency scholarships and other student needs. Please visit foundation.smccd.edu to support our local students.

View our story on YouTube

Visit Second Harvest of Silicon Valley

Summer request Form for Student Technology Needs

Do you know of a student who will need to borrow a Chromebook or other technology for summer term? Please share this Summer Technology Request form with colleagues or students so that we can get students what they need for summer classes.  Students may fill out the form directly, or faculty/staff may make a request for them. Thank you for helping to get the word out! 

Graduates Will Receive Congratulatory Email Messages, Celebration Materials

Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College will be emailing the Class of 2020 a virtual congratulations package. Having postponed commencement exercises until it is safe for mass gatherings, we will want to congratulate all the District’s graduates. Each graduate will receive:

  • Congratulations video from the college president in full regalia
  • Downloadable/printable lawn sign and social media filters 
  • Grads will be encouraged to post a photo on social media, which we will feed into a commencement photo grid “live feed” on college commencement pages 
  • Reminder that they will be invited to participate in a ceremony in the future, once gatherings are safe 

The District will also run a two-page congratulations ad in the San Mateo Daily Journal, listing the name of each graduate. Congratulations messages will go out soon!

Zoom Updates – May 22, 2020

Zoom has added even more security features and ability for meeting organizers to maintain control, in software client 5.0.  Please be sure to update to Zoom’s latest release to take advantage of these new features, and be prepared for transition to higher end encryption starting May 30. The 5.0 update includes:

Consent for unmute: When a meeting host has muted a participant, they can no longer unmute that person without their consent. That participant will now receive a prompt asking for consent to be unmuted. Note: With this feature, the option for hosts to Unmute All participants at once has been removed, but will return in a later release.

New audio for Waiting Rooms: We’ve created a specific audio chime for when someone hits the Waiting Room, so hosts are aware that they’re there. You can also enable the “Play sound when participants join or leave” feature to hear alerts when participants are coming and going.

Meeting information during screen share: Participants can now access meeting information, such as meeting ID, when sharing their screen. Find it under “More” in the meeting controls.

Multiple login restrictions: For meetings that require registration, hosts can choose whether to allow participants to join from multiple devices. This is available under Registration Options of the meeting details section in the web portal.

How To Request an Excused Withdrawal

Due to the crisis caused by the pandemic, California community college students are allowed to request an Excused Withdrawal (EW) for up to a year after the end of their courses for Spring 2020. Simply download this Extenuating Circumstances Form and send it to your college’s admissions office.

Cañada Admissions
CSM Admissions
Skyline Admissions

On the form, please indicate the reason “Covid-19.” You do not need a teacher signature or other information.

San Mateo County Community College District Courses Go Mainly Online for Summer and Fall Terms

Colleges Will Prioritize Training for Healthcare and Emergency Services

San Mateo, CA – 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 student services remotely, through December 31, 2020. The San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees is expected to formally ratify the decision on June 10.

“In taking these actions, we join other education partners, including the CSU, in maintaining educational continuity and prioritizing safety,” said SMCCCD Chancellor Mike Claire.  “Our goal is, and will continue to be, making sure that students, faculty, staff, administrators and campus visitors are safe.  We do not want to unnecessarily put students and employees at risk.  My expectation would be that we keep as many people away from our campuses as possible until conditions have significantly improved.”

In-person instruction will continue for certain essential infrastructure sectors – healthcare and emergency services fields – in order to train first responders and healthcare workers to address urgent community needs. Due to requirements for social distancing, classroom/lab sanitization procedures, and other health precautions, the number of people at SMCCCD campuses must be kept at a minimum.

College commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 have also been postponed, pending long-term guidance for mass gatherings

Federal CARES Act Emergency Funding for Students

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $5.6 million to the San Mateo County Community College District. The District will be using 75% of these funds to provide direct emergency cash grants to our students to assist with expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare.The District will be investing the remaining 25% of the funding in faculty and staff professional development and technology needs related to the transition to remote teaching and learning. See funding breakdown below:

What are the student eligibility requirements for the grant?
Students who have Pell grant funding have already been notified that they will receive a CARES Act grant. The college financial aid offices are currently identifying other students to receive these grants. Those students will be notified as they are identified.

The CARES Act allows funding according to these criteria:

  • Students who are enrolled in 6-12+ units
  • U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens
  • Students with valid Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Male students registered with the Selective Service
  • Students with a high school diploma or GED
  • Students in programs leading to a degree or certificate

How much in emergency funds can students expect?

  • Pell Grant Students
    • 6-11 Units: $800/student
    • 12 + Units: $1,100/student
  • Non Pell Grant Students
    • 6-11 Units: $500/student
    • 12 + Units: $650/student

What can the money be used for?

  • Students can use the CARES grant to pay for food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, transportation, and childcare.

How do students apply?

  • Pell Grant students do not need to apply. Students will receive a notification from the college financial aid offices.
  • Non-Pell Grant students will be emailed a notification from their college if they are eligible to receive CARES Act funds. This email will instruct them to complete an application form that the financial aid offices will use to confirm their eligibility. After financial aid reviews the form, the student’s eligibility status will update under the student’s financial aid status in WebSmart. 

When will the funds be dispersed?

  • Funds are being disbursed via the District’s financial aid partner, BankMobile, beginning May 20. In light of college funding timeline and prioritization of funds, not all students will receive awarding at the same time.
  • 67% of the available student allocation will be disbursed to students in the spring; 33% will be disbursed in the fall semester.

What should I tell students about this?

  • There is no need to identify or communicate with students who may be receiving this funding. The college financial aid offices are identifying and directly notifying students who qualify.

What about students who were left out of the CARES Act?
Unfortunately, the CARES Act left out some of our most vulnerable student groups such as undocumented students. In an effort to address the shortfall in the CARES Act, the District and the San Mateo County Community College Foundation (SMCCCF) have created an Undocumented Student Fund in support of these critical members of our campus communities. The fund makes more than $160,000 available for emergency scholarships to over 500 undocumented students in the District. All undocumented students, regardless of unit load, GPA, or other criteria, will be awarded $322.

To support the Undocumented Student Fund, please give online.

More information will be forthcoming about plans for the professional development and technology funding. Please watch your District communications for updates.