Stay updated on the latest health & other COVID-19 related news.

April 8: Update on COVID-19 Cases Related to SMC | Where to Look for Information

The following email was sent college-wide to Santa Monica College students & employees from SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery.

Dear SMC Colleagues:

Today we received confirmed medical reports that a Santa Monica College student—whose last presence on campus (March 18) is past the 14-day incubation period for the virus—has tested positive for COVID-19. In keeping with the protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified within the SMC community as being at risk of exposure from these individuals would be notified if they need to be isolated or tested; no notifications and no special precautions are required related to this latest case.

Future Reporting of Cases Related to SMC

As testing for COVID-19 becomes increasingly available, more cases concerning SMC employees and students who have not been physically present on any college campus or in a college facility may be reported. If a reported case is identified by SMC’s Health Office as having direct impact on the health of essential personnel who are still reporting to work, or if new cases put any SMC community member at risk of exposure, requiring them to be isolated or tested, we will communicate with you. Any reported COVID-19 cases that do not fall into these categories will be posted on the smc.edu/coronavirus webpage (please check the “STATUS” sentence at the very top for the most current update)

Past Cases Reported to SMC

March 23: Two students. One was off-campus at East Los Angeles College as part of a partnership academic program, and has not been on any SMC campus since Spring 2019. The other was last at SMC March 4

March 19The student was last on campus March 12. All faculty, staff, and students who may have had contact with the student were notified and directed to self-quarantine until March 26.

For more information and resources, please go to the dedicated COVID-19 SMC webpage. Be sure to review the resources. The most reliable source of COVID-19 information related to Los Angeles is the LA County Department of Public Health.
Please continue to stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President

Dr. Susan Fila, SMC Director of Health and Wellbeing

March 27: Watch Video: Tips on Taking Classes Remotely, Plus New Counseling Webpage & Remote Socializing!

Summary:

  • Watch a short video of three SMC Online students sharing tips on what helped them succeed and stay on track when taking classes from home.
  • SMC’s counselors are now just one click away: find the counselor you need. Plus, almost all the student success & transfer workshops scheduled for Spring 2020 are now on remotely!
  • It can be isolating and difficult to be stuck at home, and having to keep distance from those you care about. Read on for tips on how to socialize and stay connected (and most importantly, call the free 24/7 emotional support line 1-800-691-6003 if you are lonely/anxious).

“SMC is ultimately here to help you, so if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.”
--Daniel Cha, SMC Student/Associated Students President

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear SMC Student:

It’s almost the weekend. Now that we are all mostly stuck at home (and physical/social distancing)—for a little while—that might not get you as excited. We at Santa Monica College know this is a difficult, probably lonely, time. This is why SMC is doing everything possible to be there for you, even from a distance. This weekend’s digest gives you a short video featuring three SMC Online students who have great tips for you. Plus, there’s information on connecting with your SMC counselors, a full schedule of workshops, and tips on how to stay connected/socialize remotely.

Watch and read on!

Tips from SMC Online Students

SMC classes and student support services are available remotely through June 16, 2020, to keep you safe during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. Watch as Jaime Kalenik, Ivan Borzenko, and Daniel Cha talk about what helped them succeed and stay on track when they took classes remotely.


SMC Counselors *Now* Just One Click Away + Tons of Student Success & Transfer Workshops

A brand-new SMC Counseling webpage has been launched to make things easy for you. SMC counselors are now just one click away, and the site has been designed so that you can easily get to the counselor you need! Your counselor is waiting to answer your questions and to help you get through this time: How to Connect with a Counselor

Here’s one more piece of good news: SMC counselors have been super busy making sure the Spring 2020 student success and transfer workshops you’d typically attend on campus, are still available to you from home. Now almost all of them are available remotely! Check out the list of workshops and events (the workshops cover topics such as transferring to universities, career planning, doing research remotely, choosing a major, and so much more!

Stay Social. . .Even if You’re Stuck at Home

We miss seeing you on campus!

You are also probably missing your SMC instructors, counselors, friends & classmates. But just because you’re stuck at home—and keeping your distance from others—doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Here are a few tips:

  • First, and most importantly: if you’re feeling lonely and anxious, call the free 24/7 emotional support line for SMC students: 1-800-691-6003.

  • Keep hanging out with friends! Schedule a video-chat or a catchup time via Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, whatever. Maybe even schedule a lunch or dinner “video date” with a friend/classmate/loved one. You can eat and chat together—while it is no substitute for the real thing, it’s better than nothing.

  • Reach out to friends—and SMC. Texting is generally great and useful, but phone calls and video chatting are known to promote deeper connections. It’s easier to open up when you can see someone or hear their voice. If you have friends/loved ones you haven’t talked to in a while, reach out—this is a good time. And if you can’t video chat or FaceTime, send frequent, short text messages. Use all kinds of media—including social media—to stay in touch.

And finally, remember this: if you don’t have people in your life you can reach out to, SMC is here for you. Use the 24/7 emotional support line, reach out to your SMC instructor or counselor. We will help you get through this!

Take care of yourself—

From all of us at Santa Monica College.

March 25, 2020 - An Urgent Recommendation from Public Health on Mild COVID-19 Symptoms

Dear SMC Students:

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued this urgent guidance during this time of increased spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus):

  • If you are mildly sick, stay home for at least 7 days or until 72 hours after being fever free, whichever is longer. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen. Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant should consider contacting their healthcare providers earlier when they are sick.

For persons with mild respiratory illness that can be safely managed at home, doctors may not require them to get tested (see “When is testing for COVID-19 not recommended?”).

People who are presumed to be positive by their doctor but have not been tested should also do the following:

  • Stay home until at least 7 days after your symptoms started AND at least 3 days after you have recovered. “Recovered” means your fever is gone (for 72 hours without medications) and your cough, shortness of breath, and other symptoms have significantly improved. Clean your hands well and often, preferably with soap and water

  • Separate yourself from people and animals in your home

  • Wear a mask if you do need to be around other people

  • Call your doctor early if you are 65 years and older, pregnant, or have a health condition such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or a weakened immune system.

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor

It is important—for your personal health and wellbeing, but especially for those who are at greater risk of not being able to recover from COVID-19—that we follow these precautions. Together we can help save lives.

-Dr. Susan Fila, SMC Director of Health & Wellbeing

March 24, 2020 - Break the Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle + An Important Reminder

Dear SMC Students (& Colleagues):

Our lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19, the coronavirus. Instead of seeing each other face to face, we have to settle for “remote” interactions (we miss seeing you at Santa Monica College!). To help contain the coronavirus’s spread and save the lives of those who are at risk because of age and/or underlying health conditions, state and local authorities have ordered us to stay safe at home, except for running critical errands or for outdoor exercise close to home. The freeways are empty. Toilet paper is in short supply. You see people “stress-shopping.” This is a challenging and lonely time—but the good news is that there are effective ways to defeat anxiety and panic, and come through this stronger.

Break the Anxiety & Panic Cycle

Last Friday, I shared four ways to stay calm and healthy during the coronavirus crisis (if you missed the video, you can watch it on YouTube). Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Take breaks from looking at news stories, including social media. Seeing constant news alerts and sensational headlines can be upsetting. Anxiety is also contagious.

  2. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate. Try to eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

  3. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  4. Talk with people you trust about how you’re feeling.

The New York Times ran a fabulous article on how to minimize the anxiety about coronavirus (Read: “A Brain Hack to Break the Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle”). I summarized a few important tips from this article for you:

  • When we can’t control our anxiety, the rational part of our brain goes “offline”.

  • To break the panic and anxiety cycle, be aware of two things:

    • That you are getting anxious or panicking; and

    • What the result of your anxiety or panic is

  • This analysis will help you realize if your behavior is actually helping you survive – or leading you in the opposite direction (panic and anxiety are both destructive, and will have a negative effect on your health and wellbeing)

  • Here’s an example of how to create this awareness: if you tend to touch your face, this is a time when you might be on the lookout to not be doing this (review: precautions to keep from getting COVID-19 PDF). If you start to freak out, thinking, “I touched my face, maybe I’ll get sick!” take a moment to breathe in and out, deep, and ask yourself when was the last time I washed my hands? And then, you might say, “That’s right, I just washed my hands thoroughly, with soap and water, for 20 seconds!”

  • By taking the time to pause and question yourself, the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex pops back online, and does its job for us: to think.

  • This then influences and brings about certainty: If I just washed my hands and have been social distancing – keeping away from others at least six feet—it is very likely I won’t get sick.

  • Practice this mindfulness. As you get used to what it feels like when the prefrontal cortex—the thinking part of your brain—takes over, you will feel the difference between being calm & being anxious. Also: Review the LA County Department of Public Health’s tips on how to manage stress (PDF) during this time.

Your One-Stop Shop for Mental/Emotional Wellness

  • SMC students: If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, panic, or fear, call our emotional support line 1-800-691-6003. This line is available 24/7!

  • SMC Employees: SMC’s EASE Program offers free face-to-face counseling, phone consultations for anxiety, stress, and so much more. Call 1-800-882-1341.

  • The SMC Center for Wellness and Wellbeing is constantly updating its webpage with resources, info on physical & mental health, food and housing security, mindfulness, and much more. Please check this regularly for any needs you might have: smc.edu/healthandwellbeing. Also, for students experiencing food insecurity, please email foodsecurity@smc.edu. We want to connect you to local resources close to where you live!

An Important Reminder

As SMC’s Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery reminded us in a March 6 memo, this college is committed to inclusivity and diversity, and SMC prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment in any arena of college life. The fear and panic around the coronavirus have led to a spike in xenophobic, racist and discriminatory behavior, especially against individuals of Asian descent. According to the Center for Diseases Control & Prevention (CDC)diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. This means those in the SMC community who are of Asian descent are not more likely to get COVID 19.

Remember: there is no excuse for racism.

~

Stay healthy, stay strong – we will reach out regularly with updates and more tips on how to manage during this challenging time,

Dr. Susan Fila, SMC Director of Health & Wellbeing.

March 20, 2020 - Property Retrieval Protocol

Dear Student,

The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted all our lives in such an unexpected way and we appreciate your patience. We have created some guidelines for retrieving your property out of an SMC locker.

When can I retrieve personal property?

Starting Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27 (and for this week only), between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

How can I get my things?

There is a strict check-in process to be escorted to your locker to retrieve your goods. The check in location will be at the kiosk in front of the Business building (located off of Pico Blvd. and 17th Street). Make sure that you either bring your SMC photo ID or a valid photo identification. Your safety is our priority so please adhere to the social distancing guidelines of staying 6 feet away from each other.

Should you have property at one of our satellite campuses, please call (310) 434-4300 between the dates and times listed above and an SMC Police officer will meet you at the location to retrieve your property. If you could call 20 minutes in advance, it will be helpful so we can make sure you do not have to wait.

Thank you for your patience during this trying time.

March 18, 2020 - Library Lab Closed

This is yet another important update about a change at Santa Monica College due to COVID-19, the coronavirus: yesterday, we informed you that all classes and support services have transitioned to a remote environment for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, until June 16. And we mentioned that the only in-person support service available would be the Library computer lab, for students who did not have the technologies needed at home.

Please note that Santa Monica College can no longer keep the library computer lab open, due to recently updated guidelines about social distancing from the Los Angeles County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

We truly regret this inconvenience, and realize that some of you have no other access to the technology you may need to complete coursework. If this is the case with you, please notify your instructor immediately so that SMC might help identify the needed resource, ASAP. And if you’re part of a special program at SMC, please contact your counselor.

Remember, Santa Monica College is still here for you; we will do everything possible to guide you through this challenging time. If you need anything, please just reach out!

For more information, visit Coronavirus Preparedness and Prevention.

March 6, 2020 - SMC COVID-19 Webpage & An Urgent Reminder

See the President's Message: SMC COVID-19 Webpage & An Urgent Reminder.

March 3, 2020 - Prevention of & Planning for COVID-19
(No C​ases at SMC)

As reports come in about the spread of COVID-19 (the "2019 novel coronavirus") in various states across the United States—including, most recently, six fatalities in Washington State and one case in Northern California not connected to travel or exposure from a recent international traveler—we wanted to provide an update on campus preparedness and prevention. You can also read our past updates, beginning with a Jan. 24memo "Coronavirus FAQ and Tips".

First, and most importantly: Keep Calm & Wash Your Hands Frequently and Thoroughly (this is also great advice for flu season—conventional flu strains account for a far greater number of deaths than this new viral strain). The COVID-19 risk in California remains low. There is currently one confirmed case in Los Angeles County. With the exception of international travel, Santa Monica College continues all regular activities, classes, and events.

Preparedness at Santa Monica College

SMC is preparing for any eventuality and focusing on campus-wide preparedness. The college's Emergency Operations Team—that includes key personnel from departments including SMC Police Department, Academic Affairs, Institutional Communications & Public Information, Information Technology, Facilities & more—conducted a tabletop drill on Feb. 19 to review internal processes and preparedness in collaboration with representatives from the City of Santa Monica and LA County Department of Public Health. The college's leaders monitoring the situation are in continuous touch with local, state, and federal agencies—this includes weekly conference calls with the Department of Public Health. SMC will follow Public Health's directives in the event that an outbreak does occur.

The college's existing Hazard Mitigations Plan—that covers pandemic preparedness—has been updated specifically to address a possible COVID-19 outbreak. In the meantime, a core planning group is working with Academic Affairs and other key administrative units to solidify a plan for campus continuity.

The Academic Affairs leadership is developing plans for emergency training and other support for faculty in the event that on-ground instruction is temporarily halted.

Our facilities department & custodial team is ensuring that surfaces are disinfected and cleaned, and that soap and hand sanitizer stations remain filled. Remember that hand washing with soap and water is the most effective way to reduce the spread of any infection.

SMC's Health Services Center continues to screen all students for recent travel as well as provide basic education. Regular flu shots are being provided. Student Health Services is open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and is located on the ground floor of Cayton. The Health Service's office phone number is 310-434-4262. You can also view more information on the Health Services Center's services on its webpage.

SMC's Office of International Education has also been working actively to ensure that, insofar as possible, students affected by travel restrictions are able to continue their studies via online options until this situation has been resolved. Both study abroad trips scheduled for this spring have been cancelled, as recommended by theCenter for Disease Control & Prevention advisory on student foreign travel to higher educational institutions (read the advisory: "Guidance for Student Foreign Travel for Institutions of Higher Education.").

What *YOU* Can Do

Students: Be aware of the risks of travel restrictions/disruptions especially with regard to the upcoming spring break. Flight cancelations, quarantines, and border closures have been implemented by several countries on short notice. SMC strongly recommends postponing nonessential travel outside the U.S. at this time.

Faculty & Staff: Please make careful note of the resources and information in this memo. We must work together as a community to educate our students and help keep SMC safe and healthy. There is always the possibility that you may have to work with department & division heads and Human Resources to make contingency plans to offer core services in the event of disruption. Faculty should follow their regular policy as indicated in their syllabus regarding student absences. All employees should adhere to the leave policies within their pertinent collective bargaining agreements.

All SMC Community: Students or employees returning from international travels are strongly advised to check in with your primary care doctor or SMC Health Services for screening before returning to classes or engaging in any college/community-oriented activity.

Watch this LA County Public Health Video "The Facts About the Coronavirus." The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has an excellent guide on what you can do to prepare your household prepared. Read the guide "Interim Guidance: Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019". All of us can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 by remembering to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC's recommendations for using a facemask:
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Important Resources

211 LA County: 211 LA is the central source for information and referrals for all health and human services in LA County. The 2-1-1 phone line (dial 2-1-1) is available 24/7. If you cannot directly dial 2-1-1 or are calling from outside Los Angeles County, call (800) 339-6993.

SMC Police Department/Emergency Preparedness Team's COVID-19 Info & Prevention Guide: Read "COVID-10 Resource Guide."

LA County Department of Public Health: "Learn More About Coronavirus."

California Department of Public Health: "Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19): What You Need to Know."

Center for Disease Control & Prevention: "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary."

World Health Organization: "Coronavirus disease advice for the public" | Also: "Coronavirus."

~

Please be assured that the college's leadership cares deeply about the safety and well-being of the SMC community. You can expect updates at critical moments via your SMC email (so please check it regularly) and by visiting the consolidated COVID-19 webpage.


​January 27, 2020​ - Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are sending this update based on information released over the weekend that one individual in Los Angeles County & one in Orange County tested positive for the coronavirus. Santa Monica College's Health Services is in touch with local public health officials, and we want to reinforce that currently there is no known connection between those affected and SMC. You will be kept informed and notified on any new developments.

Per a statement released by the County of Los Angeles Public Health yesterday, Jan. 26 (read it here): "there is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness."

On Friday, Jan. 24, we sent out these FAQs below; we have added some information towards the end, which is highlighted.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that develops to​ pneumonia and was recently discovered in China.

Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

Mode of Transmission

Coronavirus is most commonly spread from an infected person to others:

  • By air via coughing, and/or sneezing
  • By close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • By contact with contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching mouth, eyes, or nose.

What Can Travelers Do to Protect Themselves and Others?

Travelers to China should:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Don't travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Individuals who have a combination of the mentioned symptoms and think that they may have been exposed should be evaluated by their healthcare provider. They should inform their doctor that they may have been exposed to coronavirus. Individuals with symptoms should not return to any activity until their health care provider has cleared them to do so.

International Students

International students should go to Student Health Services to receive a referral for further treatment. Student Health Services is open Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. during the winter session and is located on the ground floor of Cayton

The Health Service's office phone number is 310-434-4262. Students can also refer to the Center for Disease Control's website for further information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

Preventive Measures at SMC

Santa Monica College's Health Services will have masks on hand, for any student who would like one. If you do not have access to a mask, any face covering—such as a tissue, cotton cloth, or scarf—can help reduce the spread of infections by physically keeping droplets from reaching others. A covering also prevents the casual "habit" of touching your mouth and nose with your hands that many people do without being aware.

SMC is taking extended measures to ensure a hygienic environment, including regular disinfecting and cleaning of common areas, and ensuring that soap and hand sanitizer stations throughout campus remain filled. Hand gel is available in dispensers at locations throughout the campuses and all members of the community are encouraged to use them. Remember that hand gel/sanitizer does not replace handwashing with soap and water; handwashing is a more effective way to reduce the spread of any infection.

For updates and more information on coronavirus, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.​

​January 24, 2020 - Coronavirus FAQ and Tips​

You may have likely heard about the recent coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, that has spread to a handful of countries including, South Korea, Japan, and Thailand. The U.S. has identified a confirmed case in Washington State; another patient in Texas is currently being examined. It is important to know that, at present, there are no known active cases in California.

We at Santa Monica College wanted to proactively share this information, in the event that you or someone you know is traveling to or from impacted areas. Here are some basic facts about the coronavirus, and tips on what you can do to protect yourself:

​What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that develops to pneumonia and was recently discovered in China.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Mode of transmission

Coronavirus is most commonly spread from an infected person to others:

  • ​By air via coughing, and/or sneezing
  • By close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • By contact with contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching mouth, eyes, or nose.

What Can Travelers Do to Protect Themselves and Others?

Travelers to China should:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, you should:

  • ​Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Don't travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Individuals who have a combination of the mentioned symptoms and think that they may have been exposed should be evaluated by their healthcare provider. They should inform their doctor that they may have been exposed to coronavirus. Individuals with symptoms should not return to any activity until their health care provider has cleared them to do so.

International Students

​International students should go to Student Health Services to receive a referral for further treatment. 

Student Health Services is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. during the winter session and is located on the ground floor of Cayton.

The Health Service's office phone number is 310-434-4262. Students can also refer to Center for Disease Control​ for further information.

​Resources​

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