Week 1/Spring Break Message from Dr. Schultz
Dear Students and Colleagues,
As we come to the end of the first full week of campus closures, I think we can all agree that it has been a rollercoaster of a week due to COVID-19.
Before I cover several topics, I want to first extend my utmost gratitude to you, the students and the employees of Mt. San Jacinto College, for your flexibility, your patience, and your willingness and openness to adapt to our new normal.
The news about COVID-19 changed hour-by-hour each day. It capped off last night with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home orders. We have also learned there are at least three new confirmed COVID-19 in Southwest Riverside County. That means it is now in MSJC’s service area. We are working very closely with Riverside County public health officials, who will notify those who may have had direct contact with a confirmed case. The Coachella Valley experienced a fourth death. We are sending our thoughts to those dealing with COVID-19 for a speedy recovery. Our condolences go out to the families who have lost loved ones to this virus. We also want to recognize and thank our emergency responders, health care workers, police, fire, and others that are fighting on the front lines of this pandemic. We continue to send our very best to all of you, your families, and our communities.
Gov. Newsom’s orders are designed to help protect us and we know this situation has created unimaginable hardships and uncertainty for many of you. Although the order continues to keep our campuses closed through April 30, 2020, the orders will not change our commitment to you, our students. We will uphold our mission to provide “quality, accessible, equitable and innovative educational programs and services to students.” We continue to move forward with our plans to launch online instruction and student support services on April 6.
MSJC has been identified as critical infrastructure by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the risk advisor that falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
As employees, we have all taken an Oath of Allegiance and agreed to serve as disaster workers. This district, and its employees, have the duty to maintain its physical campuses, instruction and services for our students. I am grateful for those employees who, without hesitation, upheld their oath this week. Working under new procedures to maintain distance and clean surfaces frequently, they helped keep operations running smoothly and spent hours in planning sessions to maintain safety efforts and prepare for our new online services and instruction. I am proud of those employees who have volunteered to come in, even though we had to decline their offers at this time. It is folks like you who walk the walk and show your commitment through action. I am honored to work beside you.
Each one of us can be deemed an essential employee at any moment and called in for duty. In advance of that potential call, I thank you for your service and commitment to our students.
This is a time when one of the words in our values statement really stands out: Innovation. We have to think outside of the box to serve our students. We have to let go of routine and accept being uncomfortable. We have to count on each other for support, training and encouragement. I have been touched by learning of the offers for training and words of support that Faculty and Classified Professionals are sharing.
MSJC has been a leader in supporting our students. Our MSJC Equity Pledge is a good reminder of why we are here: to remove barriers for our students. We could not have anticipated that a virus could become a barrier, but we must rise to that new challenge and make sure our students are successful in this new environment. We believe in our students, their resiliency, and their strength, and together we vow to ensure your success and achievement of your educational goals.
We are still working to answer many questions. A call with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office this morning highlighted their commitment to helping our students through this time. They are looking for solutions to help with technology, professional development, clinical training and more for our students. I am pleased to report that our UCs and CSUs vowed to uphold agreements that will allow our students to transfer. We will provide more answers and updates as soon as possible.
In the meantime, what can you do to stay healthy and help “flatten the curve,” or reduce the spread of this virus? I cannot stress enough how critical it is for all of us to be socially responsible. I urge everyone to follow the orders by local, state and federal public health officials to take all steps necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Stop gathering in large crowds, make only necessary trips, practice good hygiene, and avoid touching and hugging as much as possible. If we all do this, we can get through this much faster.
We are hearing reports that many of our youth feel invincible and don’t believe this virus will affect them. I am asking all of us, especially our youth, to stand up, take socially responsible action and show the rest of the world that we can work together to protect our children, mothers, fathers, grandparents and other loved ones who may be high risk and not able to fight off COVID-19.
The leaders of the future for this region and our nation will rise out of today’s youth. The actions you take today will build a foundation for your future, as well as the future for all of us. Be a responsible influencer to your friends, families and fellow students right now. Show them you are ready today. You don’t have to wait for the future to become a leader. This moment, right now, is asking you to become one. Step into it.
We are entering Spring Break. This will be especially valuable now, as it will give you time for much-needed self-care. It is going to be different, to be sure. We won’t be able to go to places we normally do during Spring Break. But there are still things you can do: Eat healthy, get fresh air and exercise and talk to loved ones frequently.
We grow through challenges. Eagles are resilient. I am encouraged every day by the actions and words of students and my colleagues. I know we will come out of this stronger than ever before.
Remember to visit www.msjc.edu/coronavirus for updates. If you have further questions, please email COVID19@msjc.edu
We will continue communications next week unless we receive any urgent updates or changes. We hope you all have a restful and uneventful weekend.
Thank you - stay safe and be healthy,
Dr. Roger Schultz, Ph.D.
Mt. San Jacinto College