Trustees present COVID-19 update, resolution for emergency authority

Trustees+present+COVID-19+update%2C+resolution+for+emergency+authority

Lucy Marx, News Editor

The Board of Trustees held a special meeting March 23 to hear updates on the COVID-19 emergency and delegate additional authority to Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami during this time.

“Questions come up: ‘Are we closed?’ and the answer is we are not closed,” said Goswami. “We have essentially moved to online instruction. We are suspending in-person, on-campus services.”

As of March 23, over 75% of courses had already been moved online, said Goswami. The college plans to have transferred at least 96% of courses online by the end of spring break. 

Goswami estimates that only 2% of classes, an estimated 27 sections, will be unable to continue with online instruction. 

The School of Extended Learning estimates that 11% of its courses will be unable to be made available online, as many classes are hands-on. 

Goswami also highlighted the many resources still available through the school online.

“This is likely to be a four or five week scenario,” said Goswami. “All the classes that have gone online will remain online.”

The college also plans on offering summer classes in an online format, but may be able to offer some lab classes in-person if the situation improves. 

Goswami also addressed concerns about the commencement ceremony, which is currently scheduled for April.

“We haven’t made a formal announcement yet but you can kind of read the tea leaves—we won’t be having commencement in-person,” he said. 

The college is working to put together a “reasonably virtual” online commencement to give students the experience they “deserve,” said Goswami. 

The board also discussed a resolution that would give Superintendent-President Goswami the right to take any necessary action during the state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Goswami presented the resolution dictating that he, as superintendent of the college, be able to to “take any and all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of public education,

and the health and safety of the student and staff.”

The resolution listed actions such as relocating students, canceling courses and relaxing or waiving board provisions. 

Cornelia Alsheimer-Barthel, president of the Faculty Association, gave a comment via speakerphone delivering the association’s disapproval of the resolution as it was written. 

“No resolution whatsoever may give blanket authority to amend our board policies and administrative procedures,” said Alsheimer-Barthel. She brought up the concern that many of these policies have to do with working conditions and should not be subject to a single person’s authority. 

The Faculty Association submitted an additional paragraph to be added to the resolution in order for the organization to support it, and suggested that an expiration date be added. 

Trustee Marsha Croninger also suggested an amendment to the resolution to include text about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order, as well as more updates. She referenced the resolutions of Foothill College and College of the Canyons, and suggested revisions to several more points to provide more information in the document, referencing the fact that it is a health emergency. 

The board worked to revise the resolution proposed by Trustee Croninger, with regard to the amendments proposed by Alsheimer-Barthel.

Trustee Peter Haslund, while in agreement with the resolution, said that writing and revising it on stage is a “lousy idea,” and proposed “wordsmithing” after the fact to clean up the writing. 

With the revisions as well as the intent to revise after the approval, the resolution passed unanimously. 

The Board of Trustees will reconvene for its next regular meeting April 9.