Facing the Challenges of COVID-19
The corona virus has exacerbated already existing challenges individuals in our schools have faced, and has created large uncertainty for the future of public education. There has arguably never been such a substantial disruption to education in modern history; but that means fresh voices committed to asking thoughtful questions and providing an inspiring vision for the future is needed. In times like these, transparent government matters.
A recent federal stimulus packet, the CARES Act (S. 3548/ H.R. 748), establishes the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. It includes funding that is flexible and directly goes to support higher education and the California budget to aid in urgent needs correlating to COVID-19.
$13.953 billion are assigned towards higher education costs in regards to lost revenue, technological development and adaptation to Distance Learning iniatitives, and various grants; with 90% of such going to the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IV distribution system for federal financial aid programs. $6.977 billion has been allocated to direct emergency aid to students from academic needs to expenses like housing and food, among others.
Nearly $300 million in aid has been allocated to the California Community College system, with each college having discretion over distribution. It is of the upmost importance that the distribution of such funds is done so clearly and prioritizes our students needs, while also ensuring that our institution finds ways to support the students excluded from the legislation.
This is also a time where we need to make sure that training for tools like Zoom is fully implemented to all instructors, as well as developing fully integrated Canvas shells with modules, grade updates, and clear communication to students. Updates regarding social distancing, cleaning, future plans to adapt to the pandemic, public health, as well as changes to policies regarding withdrawals, Pass/No Pass policies, and new transfer expectations should continue in a well-communicated manner.
The grave economic impacts of COVID-19 have far-reaching impacts that threatens the future of so many hard-working families, students, and employees at the college. Yet it shows how important it is to have accountable leaders that ensure that COC is preforming to the best of its ability. During times of economic downfall and unprecedented disruptions to both public and private post-secondary schools, community colleges are expected to see an increase in enrollment. Our school will be essential to the economic recovery of Santa Clarita and the greater area.
Some estimates claim that 70% of California’s first responders are trained through the community college system, and we must ensure we support these programs that are essential to the well-being of our society. We must fight for staff, teachers, and students in such programs that are worried for the future of their instruction.
While there is much panic and uncertainty, I believe that College of the Canyons will lead the way forward and ensure a bright, prosperous future.