Chancellor discusses impact of COVID-19 on community colleges

Jun Starkey, Editor-in-Chief

California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley discussed the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the future of community colleges across the state at a Zoom press conference Tuesday. 

The Chancellor’s Office recently received $300 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package created to alleviate some of the economic distress brought on by COVID-19.

“Those resources obviously won’t go far enough,” Oakley said. “But each college will be determining the greatest need necessary to provide resources.”

The money is allocated to each college based on the number of full-time equivalent students, or students enrolled in 15 or more units. Each college has been advised to use the funds to provide support to low-income students first, but Oakley said it is up to each college to determine how the funds are spent beyond that parameter. 

Another issue touched on was the possibility of community college students being underrepresented in the upcoming census. 

“The resources we need to give you the representation you deserve will be impacted by how many people are counted in this census,” Oakley said. 

Oakley implored all students to count themselves, which can be done online, to ensure that community colleges will be properly represented in congress. 

Representation in the census has a profound effect on how community colleges are funded, including pell grants, department of labor funds and event funds from bills such as the CARES Act. 

The Chancellor’s Office will be partnering with the California Complete Count Committee, a committee created to increase the representation of all Californians in the census, to help alleviate this issue. 

“If we are not getting an accurate count, we will see less resources over the next 10 years,” Oakley said.