Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith and other faculty members held a virtual forum via Zoom on Feb. 26, 2021 to discuss the decrease of COVID-19 cases in Fresno County, fall 2021 semester plans and the upcoming sports season.
Status on COVID-19 Throughout Fresno County
During the forum, Darren Cousineau, State Center Community College District Director of Environmental Health and Risk Management, informed viewers that COVID-19 vaccinations and improvements on following safety protocols have led to a decrease in cases in Fresno County.
Fresno County is still in the purple tier, which is the most restrictive tier, but Cousineau anticipates the county will fall into the red tier soon if the decrease continues.
For institutions like FCC, being in the purple tier means in-person lectures are not permitted while some labs such as nursing are permitted but limited.
Fresno County moving into the red tier would allow in-person instruction at 25% capacity at a maximum of 100 in a room with the SCCCD’s permission, according to Cousineau.
As the county moves through less restrictive tiers, the capacity percentage would increase.
In addition, Cousineau reminded viewers that COVID-19 vaccines will be available for those working in education, food or agriculture beginning March 1, 2021.
At the moment, FCC’s OptumServe location has not been selected as a vaccination site but is still offering COVID-19 tests at FCC’s gymnasium.
For more information on vaccinations and eligibility, visit Fresno County’s webpage on COVID-19 vaccine information.
FCC’s “Spring two” Sports Category Allowed to Compete
Derrick Johnson, FCC’s athletic director, announced nine out of 10 sports in “Spring 2” category have opted to potentially compete during the upcoming spring season if COVID-19 cases continue to decrease.
The “Spring 2” sports category includes softball, baseball, women’s beach volleyball, women’s swim & dive, men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s track & field.
Badminton is the only sport that could not not opt in due to it being indoors and FCC’s gymnasium being used for COVID-19 testing.
Under California Community College Athletic Association guidance, student athletes will be required to receive COVID-19 tests weekly depending on the risk level of the sport.
For example, the entire baseball team will have to get tested more often compared to golf, who will only need to test 25% of their team, according to Johnson.
In preparation for the announcement, FCC’s teams have been training in a safe manner.
Student athletes go through a screening process as they come on campus and each team operates in a designated area, which Johnson believes has helped keep student athletes and faculty members safe.
“We have some amazing faculty and staff, our equipment managers, our athletic trainers and our faculty. Just some amazing people that it’s not just a job to them. It is very dear to their heart in keeping these students safe,” he said.
FCC’s Return to Campus Task Force
Omar Gutierrez, vice president of administrative services and co-chair of FCC’s “Return to Campus” task force, also spoke at the forum.
He said that when it comes to creating a plan for fall 2021, the task force looks at many things including space size compared to the number of students that will be in that space, social distancing requirements, paths students might take and more.
In addition, the task force tries to keep up with any information that comes down from the California Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure they are up to date in their planning.
“The task force members along with every single staff member here at FCC, we really want to be part of the solution. So whatever it is to get us back to whatever we call the new normal, we want to be part of that,” Gutierrez said.
For Gutierrez and administration, this means focusing on vaccinations, testing and making sure students and faculty have what they need to feel and be safe.
Tentative Plans for Fall 2021 Semester
In regards to the fall 2021 semester, FCC’s Vice President of Instruction, Don Lopez, says administration is planning for a phased-in approach which is dependent upon Fresno County’s status with COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.
Administration is currently scheduling courses in a synchronous environment, meaning courses will be offered at specified times which will give FCC flexibility to offer courses in-person and remotely.
Approximately 25% of every section would be allowed to potentially return to in-person instruction, according to Lopez.
“We are trying to do the best that we can to provide flexibility, provide what we need for our students to be successful and give our faculty the time that they need to make the associated adjustments in the way they deliver their courses,” he said.
In case the fall 2021 semester remains primarily online, 100 more faculty members have been going through distance education training with hopes they will finish by the end of the spring semester.
Spring 2021 Graduation Ceremony
No decision regarding the spring graduation ceremony has been made.
Administration and faculty will begin it’s planning in the next few weeks, according to Goldsmith.