Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith and other faculty members discussed the State Center Community College District vaccination mandate, wellness resources, and construction projects at FCC during an open forum on Aug. 26, 2021.
Goldsmith began the forum by saying there have been a lot of changes in the last week, alluding mostly to the SCCCD vaccination mandate passed Monday Aug. 23, and reminded viewers that despite changes, FCC continues to focus on its goal.
“Our primary mission is to continue to provide educational opportunities for our students and be a place of education for our community,” she said. “Through this time we’ve done that mission with grace and great success and so I know we’re going to continue to stay on that mission as we move forward.”
Goldsmith also took the time to thank students, staff and visitors for following COVID mitigation measures such as wearing masks, getting vaccinated or tested and staying home if they feel sick.
Q&A About SCCCD Vaccination Mandate
Goldsmith addressed part of SCCCD Chancellor Doug Houston’s email to SCCCD students about the vaccination mandate.
Houston said that with the mandate comes many details which the district office and the college’s Incident Response Teams are currently addressing. He asked for patience as they work through the implementation plan.
He added that planning will be done with the broadest consultation, meaning some aspects and some decisions will take time to develop.
In the meantime, college presidents will hold open forums and answer questions that faculty, students and community partners have about how the new vaccination policy will impact them.
Dates and times of those forums were not specified.
In addition, Houston said the district office is currently working on a web page for frequently asked questions about the vaccine mandate, which will allow individuals to post their questions.
Goldsmith then answered a few questions staff and students submitted about the mandate.
One question asked was, “How do I report that I am fully vaccinated?”
Goldsmith said the district is still working on a system for students to submit their statuses.
But faculty and staff can report their vaccination status to the COVID vaccine submission page on the district portal.
According to Goldsmith, out of 1600 active FCC employees, approximately 600 of them have already reported their statuses.
Another question was, “Does the vaccination mandate apply to FCC’s Design Science Middle College High School students?”
Goldsmith said these students are on campus and therefore, must follow COVID safety guidelines including being vaccinated.
In addition, she said many of these students have benefited from FCC’s bookstore voucher program which requires proof of vaccination.
When it comes to dual enrollment programs, Goldsmith said vaccination requirements for those students depends on if they attend classes on FCC’s campus or not.
Another question asked was, “Will FCC see a decline in enrollment, as a result of the vaccination mandate?”
Goldsmith said the answer to that question is unknown since the mandate was just passed and is not in effect until Oct. 15.
She added that medical and religious exemptions will be honored for those who request them.
The final question was, “If there’s a greater proportion of black students who refuse to be vaccinated and therefore cannot be served by the district, how will the mandate impact these students?”
Goldsmith said the Black Wellness and Prosperity Center, which FCC has partnered with before, will continue to be on campus to provide educational information to all students, especially students of color.
In addition, the center will be providing vaccinations. Details were not given during the forum.
COVID Mitigation Measures and Filtration
Darren Cousineau, SCCCD director of environmental health and risk management, also addressed questions about filtration at FCC and other district campuses.
Cousineau said the district has optimized its High Pressure Cooling systems.
Jonathan Kepler, SCCCD director of maintenance & transportation, explained that this will increase the amount of outside air coming in and give fresh air to buildings which will dilute some carbon monoxide and reduce the spread of COVID.
In addition to this, Kepler said the district has increased the frequency of changing filters.
Health and Wellness Programs Available for Students and Staff
Given the pandemic, Goldsmith said FCC is prioritizing students and staff’s mental health and providing resources through FCC’s psychological services.
This semester, FCC’s psychological services will continue to offer group therapy sessions, also known as “Talking Circles,” about various topics including DACA, social justice, stigma against mental health, adjusting to COVID and the crisis in Afghanistan.
These talking circles are for everyone including administration, staff, faculty and students.
For faculty and staff exclusively, FCC will host faculty-lead workshops and campus wide stress reduction sections. The first session on de-escalation of self and others will be held on Aug. 31 from 1 – 2 p.m.
Faculty and staff can register for sessions here.
Goldsmith elaborated more on the topic of de-escalation and said there have not been any incidents of professors calling the police on students who refuse to wear a mask on campus.
She added that in the last four years, there have only been two incidents of faculty calling the police on students because of a situation that escalated and required assistance.
“I think that speaks volumes of who we are, how we work together with our students and how we have received a lot of professional development training,” Goldsmith said.
Update on FCC’s Seven Construction Projects
During the forum, Goldsmith also briefly mentioned some of FCC’s seven construction projects, which includes the new parking structure, science building, child development center, first responder campus and West Fresno Campus.
Preparation for construction of FCC’s parking structure, which will be located on Cambridge Avenue, is currently underway.
It is expected to be completed in the summer or fall of 2022.
Remodeling of FCC’s current science and math building has been approved as a final project proposal and is dependent upon state funding availability, according to Christine Miktarian, SCCCD vice chancellor of operations.
Steel for the West Fresno Campus has gone up and according to Goldsmith, concrete will be poured either this week or next. Completion is expected in 2022 and the plan is to start offering courses in the spring of 2023.