Academic Senate discusses possibility of returning to campus

By Erica Cortes

California’s Color-Coded County tier system dictates the average of COVID-19 cases in over a week.

Ideas on ensuring a focused learning environment on campus during risk of COVID-19 Infections was the main topic of the Academic Senate meeting. 

The Academic Senate meeting was held on Feb. 23 via zoom.

While there was no notion to this discussion, members were opinionated on the subject. 

 California has a four-color tier system. Based on being affected by COVID-19, each county has a color representing them. 

The California Color-Coded County tier system depends on the average of COVID-19 cases in over a week. Purple being the worst in widespread, meaning more than 7 people per week to yellow as the best with just less than 1 per week. 

 Currently Los Angeles County is still purple. 

 Jeffrey Hernandez, President of the Academic Senate said that it may be possible to go from purple to red,  meaning they can change the protocol to have some in-person access to courses in the upcoming semesters. 

Red is the below Purple as Substantial between four to seven cases a week. 

The concern for the Academic Senate was whether transitioning to a partial in-person course would affect students focus from learning. 

 “Students are converting in person in context in which it might be hard to focus on what they need to learn if they are worried about either becoming infected or becoming a carrier and bringing that home “ Hernadez said.

 New protocols into transitioning in-person would mean making classes hybrid, reducing in 50% capacity and 50% maximum hours. 

Another question arises on whether or not the Working Environment Committee will make recommendations for all employees.

They discussed ideas such as keeping hand sanitizer in the classroom, individual checkpoints where they take students’ temperatures and health surveys of whether students have symptoms.

This would give the faculty the liberty to have their own agendas when it comes to dealing with their students when the time comes for in-person courses. 

The question was asked if the faculty would have the hands on every individual class or giving all trust to the professors to do it. 

Nohelia Canales, a member of the Academic Senate, said, “It is absolutely essential for the senate to take position to support our chairs as they are navigating uncharted waters”

 It has been almost a year since East Los Angeles College went completely online due to the pandemic. 

Going forward into transitioning to in-person also brought up concerns in the meeting 

Sherrie Davey, Chairs Council of the Academic Senate, “As a chair, I don’t feel ready to have this conversation. I don’t know what parameters we will be recommending, under what circumstances my faculty will be comfortable coming back. I don’t know how the department or the college is best served by saying ‘let’s have class caps or a limit on the number of hours that can be scheduled in person just for the sake of ensuring we are in-person.” 

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