April 7, 2020

SMC Graduation & Summer 2020 Update

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

Dear SMC Colleagues:

We are in the third week of this current reality of virtual interactions, teaching and learning remotely, due to the tremendous challenges presented by COVID-19. I am immensely proud of how Santa Monica College's faculty and staff adapted with creativity and dedication to continue to teach and guide SMC students. Many among you have worked tirelessly: ensuring safety; learning unfamiliar technologies; providing much-needed tech resources and a calming presence for students; cleaning and disinfecting rooms . . . the list goes on. Thank you. I am equally appreciative of our students, who demonstrate resilience, and whose patience and flexibility have been exemplary.

As the work of limiting the spread of COVID-19 and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the SMC community continues, some critical decisions have had to be made regarding SMC's 90thCommencement Ceremony and the Summer 2020 session. Please read this entire memo—it has vital information throughout:

SMC Graduation & 90th Commencement Ceremony | June 16, 2020

Without a doubt, graduation day is the highlight of the year for us, but, most of all, for the students who have given so much to achieve their dreams. That walk across the stage, that diploma often represents not just the hard work and sacrifice of the graduates, but also of their family members and loved ones. As Santa Monica College continues to evaluate the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, it has become apparent that it will be impossible to maintain the safety and health of our graduates and guests in a traditional setting, where thousands gather in Corsair Field; therefore we will have a virtual graduation ceremony. The decision was not an easy one to make—we did so because the wellbeing of SMC graduates, employees, and guests is our highest priority. More details on the virtual graduation ceremony are forthcoming. SMC will still produce a beautiful graduation booklet/program to celebrate the success of all our graduates, and that program along with diplomas and certificates, will be mailed to the homes of graduates. And, significantly, graduates who wish to participate in a traditional ceremony will be invited to participate in the 2021 graduation ceremony! 

SMC student leaders have been invited to work with Enrollment Development to plan the virtual ceremony; their suggestions and feedback will help make the day as meaningful and special as possible.

Summer Session 2020 | Instruction & Student Support Services Will Stay Remote

For the same reasons that graduation is going virtual, Santa Monica College will continue to deliver classes and student support services remotely during the Summer 2020 session. Online learning and videoconferencing tools will be used by SMC faculty to help students continue their education in these uncertain times: SMC will keep delivering the high-quality education it is known for, in spite of the circumstances. While some activity-based summer classes will be canceled, the majority will be converted to adapt to remote teaching and learning methods.  The online Schedule of Classes will be updated by Monday, April 20, to reflect this information for each class section. We deeply appreciate the ongoing innovation and flexibility demonstrated by SMC instructors, counselors, and support/classified staff as they work to help ensure that students still realize the learning outcomes intended in each class. More detailed information will be provided shortly in separate messaging from area vice presidents to students, instructional faculty, librarians, counseling faculty, and supporting staff.

And—equally important—to ensure that new and continuing students have the support they need this summer, all SMC counseling services will continue to be offered remotely.  Students will be able to live-chat and/or schedule video and phone appointments with counselors who are eager to engage with them, impart information, and provide academic, career and mental health support.  SMC counselors will be one click away! A redesigned counseling webpage helps students get to the counselor they need ASAP.

SMC continues to assess the technology needs of students. Nearly 200 students have been loaned a Chromebook to help them access SMC classes and support services remotely—among other criteria, these students were part of a special program, or referred by faculty members. SMC stands ready to ensure that no student is left behind. In addition, 191 faculty and staff received Chromebooks, and accessories like cameras and headsets went to 20 others. My special thanks to Institutional Research for gathering information regarding students' needs through a survey, Purchasing & Procurement for helping to swiftly buy the Chromebooks; Lina Ladyzhenskaya and Dione Carter (the "point persons" for distribution); Auxiliary Services and the Campus Bookstore; and last, but not the least, the Santa Monica College Police Department, whose personnel have been working diligently to ensure our safety in many ways.

First Drive-Thru Pop-up Pantry is a Success! Plus, the Meal Project . . .

SMC's first drive-thru pop-up pantry held this past Thursday, April 2 was a tremendous success! SMC police and volunteers helped enforce mandatory social distancing and hygiene guidelines; students received 250 bags of non-perishable food items/groceries from Westside Food Bank and SMC's 10 donor-supported food closets and 500 meals from social enterprise Everytable, plus delicious cupcakes from The Butter End Cakery! You can read more: Santa Monica College Feeds Hundreds of Students During Covid-19 Crisis, First Drive-Thru Pantry on April 2.

And, attention! There will be another drive-thru pop-up pantry this Thursday, April 9 beginning at 1:30 p.m. until supplies run out. For updates, monitor SMC's Instagram account (@smcedu). Vehicles must enter parking lot #1 at Pearl west of 20th Street. Students must bring a valid SMC ID. Those who take public transportation will be asked to line up from Pico Blvd. beside the Student Services Center. Please spread the word to students, especially those who could use this assistance.

In addition, the SMC Foundation's Meal Project has begun delivering a week's worth of meals via Everytable to 700 students (to date) whose needs were identified by counselors and staff: they included those who were housing insecure/homelessveteransolder adults, and foster youth. A $2 million fundraising campaign—SMC donated $500,000 via grant funds—has been launched by the Foundation to feed 3,000 students during the time that the college's food-closets and on-campus programs remain inaccessible. You can donate to help the foundation meet its goals. ICYMI, LAist and KPCC covered last Thursday's drive-thru: read/listen to the coverage here.

SMC remains committed to meeting students' basic needs—especially during a time of great need and uncertainty for thousands. Our commitment to equity stands strong.

 

Important Health Update | Wear a Face Covering When Around Others

SMC Student Health continues to work closely with students providing telehealth services, monitoring those who are ill and assisting with referrals when needed. There are currently no any additional confirmed COVID-19 cases related to SMC at this time. In order to slow the spread, it is important for everyone to continue to do the following:

  • Engage in social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others)
  • Self-isolate (and stay home) when you are sick for 10 days
  • Self-quarantine if you come into contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19
  • Wear a face covering if you must go out for essential activity when you can't be socially distant from others (work, grocery shopping, etc.). The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends "wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission". It is important to remember that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. It is fairly easy to make your own face covering: check out this video from the Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams! 

    Finally, here are two noteworthy SMC-related COVID-19 news items that might be of interest to you:
  • This past weekend, Saturday, April 2, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) picked up 19 ventilatorssix respirators, and several boxes of PPE from SMC's Bundy Campus—SMC was the designated pick-up site for a couple other colleges, too: East LA College and Orange Coast College. We are so glad to have been able to collaborate with colleagues at other area community colleges in doing our part to fight COVID-19 and send these needed supplies to hospitals. And, needless to say, our deepest, most profound gratitude goes out to healthcare providers and workers, who are putting their lives on the line to save those of others during this terrible crisis. Read More: Santa Monica College, East LA College & Orange Coast College Donate Ventilators & PPE to Hospitals Fighting Covid-19.

    Kudos, also, to Engineering-Physics professor Tram DangInteraction Design professor Maxim Safioulline; and Art professor Christopher Badger who are making use of 3D printers typically used for hands-on instruction to design and print masks and face shields for healthcare workers at Keck School of Medicine of USCKaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, and more. They makes us #ProudToBeSMC!

  • The Corsair, SMC's award-winning student media outlet, has launched "The Pandemic Podcast", a twice-a-week podcast that is geared towards helping students survive and stay grounded, and highlighting how arts & culture continue to thrive. Most recently, they featured SMC trustee Dr. Sion "Shy" Roy, who talks about what it is like on the front lines of the pandemic. Dr. Roy is a cardiologist at Harbor UCLA and is President for the LA County Medical Association. Listen to the podcast here. Speaking of arts & culture, The Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center has launched "The Broad Stage at Home", a new series of *free* livestreamed performances, interviews and archival footage. More details: The Broad Stage at Home.
  • SMC's NPR radio station KCRW (89.9 FM) continues to operate 24/7 providing news and cultural programming, even in spite of the circumstances, as part of the station's ongoing communications efforts.

~

Please continue to take care of yourselves. This is a difficult time—one in which you must prioritize personal wellbeing much higher than you normally would—but we will get through this together.

As we navigate this situation of uncertainty and dynamic changes, I am proud to note that SMC's commitment to delivering the highest quality education possible, in the most accessible way, remains strong and unflinching. It would not be possible without each of you and your efforts. My heartfelt appreciation to you; please continue to be safe.

Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery

SMC Superintendent/President