San Diego Community College District offices. Courtesy of the district

The San Diego Community College District is preparing to continue its classes online and through distance education through the fall semester, a district statement announced Friday.

District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll sent an email to the district’s more-than-5,000 employees at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges and at San Diego Continuing Education, and the district’s more-than-100,000 students will receive additional information this weekend.

Carroll said the district will make an effort to allow some exceptions for classes such as science, clinical and career-technical labs, classes for first responders and others which are difficult to offer completely online. In those cases, however, social distancing and other health protocols would need to be closely followed.

She said it was important to make the decision about plans for the fall semester early enough to allow the faculty and campuses to prepare. She also announced that the district and campuses would provide additional professional development to ensure the quality of instruction and student support during this online phase.

The district has also begun discussions regarding a phased-in approach that would determine when employees might return to work.  However, as with classes, the work environment would need to be safe for employees.

“Never in my years in higher education have I seen a crisis of this magnitude, certainly never in my 28 years in the San Diego Community College District,” Carroll said. “And the board of trustees and I have never been prouder of how faculty, staff, students and alumni have responded. Their efforts have been extraordinary and have enabled the district to continue to meet the educational needs of students and the community.”

The district converted more than 5,000 classes to all-online instruction on March 23. Since then, it has announced that summer classes will be held online due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and commencement ceremonies will be conducted virtually in mid-July.

Thousands of district students have been provided with laptops, Wi-Fi hubs and other equipment to ensure they can continue their studies. In addition, hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and emergency grants have been secured to assist students, many of whom have lost jobs.

The district estimates it has incurred approximately $4 million in unanticipated costs thus far due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–City News Service

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