March 20, 2020

SMC COVID-19 Update for Employees


Dear SMC Colleagues:

We are at the conclusion of a week in which the Santa Monica College community has had to adapt to the new reality of operating within the present limitations imposed by the spread of COVID-19. What follows are the latest updates. Some information was shared via e-mails earlier to the relevant audience; this memo consolidates everything that is current, and that will be beneficial for each SMC employee to know.

Essential Personnel Defined

Earlier today, Human Resources shared with all managers a set of guidelines that will help them determine, at the earliest, essential personnel in their areas. COVID-19/the novel coronavirus has created an emergency that is vastly different from anything the college has experienced. The set of guidelines identifies essential personnel as those who provide services that relate directly to the health, safety, welfare, and mission of the college; and whose services ensure continuity of key operations, and the maintenance and protection of college properties. View the document shared by HR: “Guidelines for Establishing Essential/Non-Essential Personnel During COVID-19 Emergency.”

New Teaching Tools *Coming Soon* from the State Chancellor’s Office

In a webinar this morning, I learned that the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office has arranged access for all of the system’s community colleges to expanded features in the Canvas learning management system. These new features will help colleges expand remote learning services in tutoring, exam proctoring, and accessibility for disabled students. The Chancellor’s Office is also working on a contract with Labster, a system of virtual science labs. SMC programs will evaluate these new tools and put them into effect wherever they can be beneficial to students and faculty. 

New Informational Videos + First Confirmed COVID-19 Case

SMC’s institutional communications team has unrolled two videos to help guide students and employees during this time. In the first video, shared earlier yesterday, March 19, I gave an update on the college’s response to COVID-19. This video was released prior to the college receiving confirmation from LA County Public Health of the first COVID-19 case related to SMC: a student who was last on campus March 12. As I informed you in a memo last night, the student is in isolation off campus, and everyone who may have had contact with the student was notified and directed to self-quarantine until March 26, in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and LA County Public Health protocol.

The second video, released this afternoon, features SMC Director of Health & Wellbeing Dr. Susan Fila. She gives four ways to manage stress and anxiety, and shares free emotional support & wellness resources (please note that SMC employees have free access to the EASE Program, which offers free face-to-face counseling, phone consultations for anxiety, stress, and more). Call 1-800-882-1341 for more information.

More videos are being planned, and will feature faculty & classified staff leaders including Academic Senate President Nate Donahue, and Board Chair Nancy Greenstein, in addition to student-specific content that will help students stay on track with their academic and educational goals as they access instruction and support services remotely.

An outstanding video production team—Drew Davis, Film Production Coordinator; Steven Sedky, Business Professor; and Walt Louie, Digital Media Professor—made these videos possible.

Students’ Retrieval of Personal Property

Students were notified today that there will be  only one week: Monday, March 23 - Friday, March 27 (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.) during which they can pick up personal property. A strict check-in process has been put in place to ensure safety and health; they will have to check in with campus police at the kiosk in front of the Business building, present photo ID, and they will be escorted to the locker. You will all shortly receive notification of the time allotted for the retrieval of your personal property, as well as the days and times during which you may do so.

Feed their Hopes

The SMC Foundation has launched a fundraising campaign to address the critical food insecurity thousands of students will face because of the limitations imposed by COVID-19, whether that be loss of work, or because they happen to be in a high-risk category and are isolated. I commend SMC Dean of Institutional Advancement Lizzy Moore and the SMC Foundation Team for stepping up so swiftly to fill a needed gap for our most needy students. The Foundation is setting up weekly Everytable subscription “food scholarships” to send healthy meals via delivery directly to SMC’s most vulnerable students, and for Emeritus students (older adults) who have extreme financial hardship and are unable to leave their homes. Donate to help feed these students.           

In addition, especially for SMC employees, social enterprise Everytable is offering $10 off plus free delivery for the first one-week long subscription order (no long-term commitments necessary). For every household who subscribes using the promotion code ”SMCFRIEND”, Everytable will donate two meals to SMC students who are struggling with food security. You may pass on this promo code to friends & family so they can also enjoy fresh, healthy chef-prepared meals starting at $4.50!  


My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who is helping SMC navigate this crisis—from the SMC Board of Trustees to the members of the emergency management team, faculty and classified staff leaders, and senior leadership. And last, but certainly not the least, my sincere thanks to every single one of you, for the patience and flexibility you continue to demonstrate.


Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D.Superintendent/President