SMCCCD Board of Trustees Declares Monday, June 28, 2021 as Holiday in Observance of Juneteenth

At its meeting on June 23, 2021, the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees adopted Juneteenth National Independence Day as a District-recognized holiday.  Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in the United States. 

Due to the timing of the federal action late last week creating the holiday the District was not able to observe the holiday on its actual date of June 19.  In observance of Juneteenth National Independence Day, the Board has set Monday, June 28, 2021 for the District to recognize the holiday this year.  In future years, the holiday will be recognized on June 19. 

As such, the District, including Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, will be closed and there will be no classes on Monday, June 28, 2021.  

Employee Update on Masks Outside and In the Workplace

New CDC Mask Guidelines
The CDC has updated its guidance on wearing masks. You do NOT need to wear a facial covering when:

  • In personal offices and individually occupied District vehicles
  • In shared smaller offices, District vehicles, and work spaces where ALL employees have been vaccinated
  • Working or recreating outdoors
  • Attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated occupants
  • Participating in defined athletic engagements

Facial coverings are still required at all times while indoors, including all District buildings and the SMAC Gym, as well as crowded outdoor events like farmers markets. Facial coverings are also required for Public Safety employees on emergency medical responses.

Vaccination Clinics in San Mateo County
The COVID-19 vaccine is available at several locations in San Mateo County. These clinics are open to everyone who lives or works in San Mateo County. For clinic times and locations see https://www.smchealth.org/vaccine-clinic-calendar .

Sign up for an appointment (not required) at MyTurn.gov

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza Named Next President of College of San Mateo

Begins new role on July 1, 2021

San Mateo, CA – San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor Michael Claire announced that he will recommend  Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza to the District’s Board of Trustees as the next president of College of San Mateo. The Board of Trustees will take formal action on Dr. Taylor-Mendoza’s appointment at their meeting on April 28.

“Dr. Taylor-Mendoza is positioned to lead College of San Mateo through its centennial year and beyond,” said Claire. “Her passion for educational equity, and her skill as an innovator and collaborator, make her the ideal person to lead College of San Mateo into its second century.”

Dr. Taylor-Mendoza will be the third woman president and the first person of color to lead the 99-year-old College of San Mateo. Her selection comes after a national search that began in November 2020.

Dr. Taylor-Mendoza brings over 20 years of educational experience in both instruction and student services. A longtime leader in the San Mateo County Community College District, she has been vice president of instruction at Skyline College in San Bruno since 2017. Prior to this, she served as founding dean of Academic Support and Learning Technologies (2014-2017) and the founding director of the Learning Center (2011-2014) at College of San Mateo.

“I am honored to work alongside CSM’s talented students, faculty, classified professionals, and administrators to continue the college’s rich history of educational excellence,” said Dr. Taylor-Mendoza. “CSM has been the vehicle for upward economic mobility for generations of San Mateo County residents. I pay tribute to the great work of my predecessors by continuing to build on this important mission, ensuring equitable access and outcomes for all students.”

Prior to joining SMCCCD, Dr. Taylor-Mendoza served as a tenured counseling faculty member and part-time psychology instructor at San Bernardino Valley College. She began her career as a part-time counselor at Pasadena City College.

A first-generation California Community College student, Dr. Taylor-Mendoza earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts from El Camino College, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CSU Los Angeles, a master’s degree in counseling from CSU Northridge, and a doctor of philosophy in education from Claremont Graduate University.

In 2021, Dr. Taylor-Mendoza was named a winner of the Carter Doran Leadership Award, given to recognize leadership among statewide community college vice presidents of instruction. She is an Aspen Institute Presidential Fellow for Community College Excellence (2019 – 2020). Dr. Taylor-Mendoza serves locally on the Board of Directors of HIP Housing, and she is actively engaged with the NOVA Workforce Board.

Dr. Taylor-Mendoza will start her new position on July 1, 2021. Her selection is subject to approval of a written contract, the terms of which will be available for public review prior to the April 28 board meeting.

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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 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.

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.

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).