Message from the Chancellor on California Reopening Plans

April 6, 2021

Dear SMCCCD Students, Colleagues, and Community Members,

Earlier today, Governor Newsom announced a conditional plan to open all segments of California and eliminate the color tiers by June 15, including the education sector.  We do not yet know the full details of his plan and we are working to understand the requirements so that we can make informed decisions.  The District’s Emergency Operations Center has been planning the recovery of operations for many weeks but our timeline had a longer recovery period than that announced by the Governor. We are working quickly to gather information and adjust plans as necessary.  As soon as we have information for you, we will share it. 

I remember when we first evacuated our campuses in March 2020.  There were many unknowns at the time and we made the best decisions possible based on the limited information available.  I asked for your patience then and I cannot tell you how much I appreciated your support.  I ask for your patience again so that we can take the time to gather and prepare accurate information and plans to share with you about next steps.

I wish you all my best,

Mike

Michael Claire
Chancellor
San Mateo County Community College District

Student/Employee Travel Advisory for Spring Break 2021

Spring Break 2021 is coming next week, and we want to remind all employees and students that the Bay Area is still under Orange shelter-in-place restrictions. These rules apply for domestic and international travel, and are consistent with guidance from the CDC, California Department of Public Health, and San Mateo County Health.

Students and employees who are returning from travel should follow the guidance below:

If you travel within 120 miles of the Bay Area (which includes the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma) for less than 24 hours, you do not need to quarantine, but you must answer the below three questions and forward your response to your supervisor or instructor prior to return to the physical campus.

If you travel more than 120 miles outside of the Bay Area for more than 24 hours, you may pose a risk to others. 

  1. Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  2. Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  3. If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.  Report to your supervisor or instructor for further directives following the District’s COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan.
  4. If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  5. Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Prior to return, you must answer the below three questions and forward your response to your supervisor or instruction prior to return. While quarantining, you must remain indoors and only go outside for critical needs like medical care, including getting tested for COVID-19.

  1. Do you have a cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, headache, new fatigue, nausea or vomiting, or congestion or runny nose? 
  2. Have you had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus? (Close contact means having been within 6 feet of that person for an extended time or being exposed to their cough or sneeze.).
  3. Have you been notified by a public health official that you have potentially been exposed to COVID-19?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please do not come to work and follow the guidance in the C-19 Health and Safety Plan.

Note: Individuals who are 2 weeks post their completed COVID-19 vaccination series (2 doses for Pfizer and Moderna OR single dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen) are exempt from these quarantine guidelines.

See CDC guideline for Spring Break travel
See CDC guidelines for Travel During COVID-19

San Mateo County Community College District Distributes more than $8 Million Directly to Students from Federal Pandemic Relief Funding

District Receives total of $13.3 million in Federal Pandemic Relief Funding to support students and respond to COVID-19

March 4, 2021 – The San Mateo County Community College District has received $13.3 million in federal relief funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II). Of that funding, approximately two-thirds will go directly to students as cash payments to offset hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining third of the funds will be used to offset costs incurred by the District and its three colleges for COVID-related expenses such as technology, health and safety equipment, and training.

“Our community college students were already struggling to make ends meet, and COVID has made it tougher than ever,” said SMCCCD Chancellor Michael Claire. “The majority of the federal funds we’ve received are going directly to support students, and this will make a difference in students being able to stay in school.”

The most recent federal funding, combined with $5.6 million received as part of the CARES Act from spring 2020, brings total federal pandemic relief funding for the San Mateo County Community College District to almost $19 million. Of that total funding, two-thirds ($16.8 million) is directly supporting students at Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College.

Federal guidelines allow for HEERF funding to be used for direct student aid and institutional expenses related to COVID-19 to ensure learning continues for students during the pandemic. The federal programs require at least half of the funding to go as direct aid to students to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and child care.  The District allocated more of the funds it received to directly support students than the federal programs required.

In spring and fall 2020, almost 5,000 students from Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College received CARES funds payments ranging from $500 to $1,100. In spring 2021 and fall 2021, students will receive direct payments ranging from $750 to $1,650. 

The District’s colleges have remained mostly online since March 2020. Classes will continue online through December 2021, though more programs may be converted to in-person classes if circumstances allow in the fall semester.

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

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

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 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.