The advent of the COVID-19 virus has presented us with the obligation to address an enemy to our educational system. It has required us to embrace new ways of communicating and teaching our students longterm so that their educational journeys are not interrupted.
In this age of earthquakes, school shootings, and pandemics, it is clear how essential a school safety plan is not just in K-12 but at colleges and universities. Unfortunately, it seems preparedness comes in waves with each event as it occurs. But as a public institution that cares about our entire college community, it is imperative that our college be prepared for all possible events by planning ahead, practicing, modifying as we learn more, and updating plans regularly.
What needs to be done for prevention
* Our campus needs to be vigilant in regard to the maintenance of cleanliness and safety of our physical facilities for the wellness of all students, staff, and visitors.
* The Disability Transition Plan at the Valencia campus needs to be completed as soon as possible to ensure that the entire campus is accessible to the disabled. We must also look to ensuring the same level of accessibility at the Canyon Country Campus.
* A decision on the scope of practice of our campus safety personnel and our relationship with community law enforcement personnel needs to be made as soon as possible, this decision has lingered for too long!
What needs to be done for continuity of instruction
* Emphasis needs to be placed on assuring that courses are maintained on file in the state Chancellor's Office with current Distant Learning Addendums so that in case of an emergency, we can quickly transition the delivery of instruction.
* It's imperative that technology be updated regularly and that access to up-to-date technology with curriculum specific software be in sufficient supply for distribution to faculty and students alike.
* All support services including educational counseling, tutoring, and mental health need to be able to provide online access to students. This is a feat that requires the technological amalgamation of various platforms.
* All career technical education instructors need to convene to explore ways to continue instruction in their fields in the case of another physical plant closure. Professional development needs to be provided in search of perhaps even virtual training and other methodologies so career tech students can continue their studies.
What needs to be done for emergency preparedness
* The emergency plan needs to be updated annually as we learn from new emergency situations and the update must be achieved in collaboration with representative faculty and staff groups as well as with the Associated Student Government and campus safety personnel in recognition of their varying needs and experiences and expertise.
* The emergency plan needs to incorporate training that includes table-top scenarios and drills with participation of all factions of the college including students and staff.
* The emergency plan needs to include step-by-step levels of response and procedures and which persons are responsible for emergency actions.
* An annual review of the emergency plan needs to take place with all employee groups and the Associated Student Government as a means to engage the entire campus in preparedness.
If we have learned one thing, it is that good preparedness affects how more fluidly the college can respond and pivot to other teaching and service delivery modes.