Amidst the declaration of the COVID-19 virus as a worldwide pandemic and the beginnings of domestic disease outbreak, colleges up and down the state of California are tasked with the challenge of ensuring both student safety and fulfillment of their education.
This is not an easy balance to manage, and we believe that Los Medanos College is doing not only everything that they can do, but making good decisions in ensuring both of these outcomes for its students are completed.
LMC began by issuing instructions for proper hygiene and how to avoid the flu when concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus in California were first being raised. This guidance, based on instruction from the Contra Costa Community College District, was appropriate at the time, and was posted publicly on campus. All students received an email, Monday, March 9, briefing them on the college’s actions, including the decision to return students studying abroad in Italy.
The Academic Senate has passed a contingency plan, during an emergency meeting March 11, for alternate instruction which includes various plans for the switch for lecture-based classes to an online format. During this meeting, the college has decided to push for all lecture-based classes to be moved online, and to limit public nonessential travel and gatherings on campus.
These restrictive actions are in line with what community colleges around the state have been doing and were taken before any students or faculty within the district are infected with the virus.
LMC has adequately kept faculty and employees in the loop regarding its actions by sending out emails and texts and creating an accessible banner on its website.
Of course, the school’s communication on the matter hasn’t been completely perfect. For example, no email was sent out to students regarding the Academic Senate meeting Wednesday, and the only reason students were present was because professors advised them to and through word of mouth. But even then, despite the meeting’s importance to students, it was a meeting that is, by nature of the Academic Senate, of primary relevance to faculty.
Because the event largely has little precedent, we commend the college for what efforts they have taken and the level of transparency they’ve achieved with faculty and students.
We understand that, in this grave situation, the goals of student safety and education are inverse, and that no solution will fit the needs of all students, and we support the administration of LMC in their efforts thus far.