CPC prepares for unlikely campus shutdown caused by coronavirus

CPC prepares for unlikely campus shutdown caused by coronavirus

Serena Guentz, Features Editor

City College’s College Planning Council considered establishing a plan of action in the case of an emergency related to the coronavirus at its meeting Tuesday, including a potential campus-wide shutdown.

“We must be prepared as an institution to shut down for two or three weeks,” said Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami.

According to City College’s webpage dedicated to communicating information regarding the coronavirus, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in Santa Barbara County as of Feb. 28.

The decision to shut down City College would have to come from the county’s public health department, which would inform the school if these extreme measures were necessary.

Goswami said that the college has approved the purchase of more efficient cleaners for bathrooms on campus, however, it could take three weeks to get other supplies such as disinfectant cleaners.

Academic Senate President Patricia Stark said a plan for continuity of instruction is being developed, as well as a plan to provide tools for faculty to be able to send in final grades in the case of a shut-down.

“We really do need to have a long-term plan for this,” Stark said. “We want all faculty to start creating their own continuity of instruction plan and we want to give them the tools to help that happen.”

The council has identified the concern of equity in a campus-wide shutdown. If all class instruction was moved to Canvas, for example, some students may not be able to work if the library is closed and they do not have access to canvas. 

Goswami said the council should also consider increasing the length of the semester if students were forced to complete work remotely.

“We don’t want to induce a sense of panic here,” Stark said, mentioning that this probably won’t happen. “Just be thinking about this. Let’s plan for this.”

Another area of concern was how employees would get paid. There are about 800 people on campus who receive paper paychecks.

Paychecks can be processed remotely but, for security reasons, they must be printed on campus. Goswami said emails would be sent to these employees to set up direct deposit, or at least set up an account for direct deposits to be sent to in emergencies. Otherwise paper paychecks will be delayed.

“We are in uncharted territories,” Goswami said.

The council also reviewed updates to the budget.

The update, based on P1 numbers from the Chancellor’s Office, showed a projected deficit of $5 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Goswami said that the college will start marketing to out-of-district and international students. With revenue from this, and a decrease of expenditures as a result of the Supplemental Retirement Plan, Goswami said the deficit for the 2020-2021 fiscal year will be $2.3 million and in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, there will be a surplus of $270,822.

The College Planning Council will reconvene at its next meeting on March 17.