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Update: March 12 at 6:40 p.m.

The health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff are top priorities of administrators and the Board of Trustees of the Palomar Community College District.  While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Palomar College, there are 5 presumptive positive cases within San Diego County. These cases are currently being analyzed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk to our campus remains low at this time and it is important that a focus remain on maintaining personal hygiene and if students, faculty and staff are feeling ill, they should stay home.

The Emergency Operations Center is engaged and planning is occurring daily to prepare for any closure that may be required in the future. The Teams are working on increasing the availability of hand sanitizer and appropriate cleansing wipes for high traffic areas such as computer labs and tutoring centers.

Our goal is to minimize and mitigate opportunities for exposure as much as possible. In abundance of caution the following mandates are now in place at Palomar College.

Most Face-To-Face Classes Will Be Taught Using an Alternate Method of Delivery
Last evening, in collaboration with our Faculty Senate President, we filed the required paperwork with the Chancellor’s Office so that we can continue to serve our students in an environment that reduces the spread of COVID-19. This morning we received approval from the Chancellor’s Office. Effective March 30, 2020, most of our face-to-face classes will be taught using an alternative method of instruction, e.g., online, by conference call, or by email. Faculty will be asked to announce this information to their students during the week of March 16 or by Palomar email. Faculty will need to determine the best approach in addressing lab, clinical, and internship requirements as these may need to continue with limited face-to-face interactions. Current Disability Resource Center (DRC) students or a student who anticipates requiring specific accommodations to attend class in another format (e.g., online, conference call, phone, or email), will work directly with the DRC to address their needs.  A TeachAnywhere website containing a variety of resources is available to faculty and staff.  To prepare for this change, Palomar College faculty who teach face-to-face courses, will be provided two full days on March 18 and March 19 to prepare.  Face-to-face classes taught on these two days will not be held.

Low-Cost Internet Plan and Emergency Grants
We are aware that some of our students may not have the appropriate access to participate in class from their home. Based on the research conducted by our Foundation, we identified a low cost $10/month, free installation internet plan from AT&T. The plan is available for people with one member in the household using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Details are available here.  The Foundation is accepting emergency grant applications from students who need assistance with technology, internet access, work-gap challenges or essential needs.  Grants range from $100-$250 and the application is available on the Foundation website.

Modified Staffing Model
Due to the change in face-to-face course delivery, the District will be moving to a modified staffing model as well. Our Human Resource Services colleagues will be working collaboratively with constituent groups to formalize the model.

Palomar College Business Related Travel
To ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff, effective immediately, all business travel (in California, out-of-state, and international) for students and employees is suspended until further notice.

Personal Travel
With spring break quickly approaching, the College has asked all students, faculty, and staff to consult the websites of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department in order to make informed decisions about travel.

Large Public Gatherings
Effective March 16, 2020, events scheduled at the Main Campus in San Marcos and at our Education Centers in Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook, with more than 100 people in attendance are canceled until further notice. For events with less than 100 people, event organizers are required to implement social distancing of 6 feet per person. (source: Public Gatherings Policy – Governor Newsom)

A decision regarding commencement on May 22 is pending.  Athletic events will continue as scheduled, however no spectators will be allowed into the facility/field.

Update: March 12, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

The health and safety of our students is the top priority of the College and our Board of Trustees.  To date, there is no known risk on our campus or at our Education Centers.  Despite this, we have activated our Emergency Operations Team and are working with all constituency groups on campus to determine our next steps as a College.  By the end of day today, March 12, we will be issuing an update to all students, faculty and staff and the general public.

Update: March 9, 2020

The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is the top priority of College administrators and the District Board of Trustees. Currently, there is one presumptive positive COVID-19 case in San Diego County.  The test results are awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   There are no identifiable risks on our campus at this time. Despite this, our Emergency Response Team is working on a College-wide plan to act quickly should the current status of the COVID-19 virus change in our region. The College will proactively alert all students, staff and faculty as necessary.
While the level of threat to our campus community remains extremely low, our health services team has established COVID-19 specific protocols. They are also monitoring the Patients Under Investigation (PUI) information as posted by San Diego County Health and Human Services Department. PUI information is available on the County’s website and is updated each day at 4:00 p.m.

The Importance of Personal Hygiene Has Never Been More Significant!

The spread of this virus, like many others, is best prevented by following good personal hygiene practices. These include:

  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • avoiding the need to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • staying home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (hint: it takes about 20 seconds to sing the “happy birthday” song)

To avoid spreading germs or coming into contact with others suffering from a contagious illness, consider calling student health services or your health provider to discuss their symptoms instead of coming to campus, a clinic or medical office.

Travel Warnings

If you are considering personal international travel, consult the Centers for Disease Control Traveler’s Health Site. It is important to understand if your desired destination is identified as: Watch Level 1, Alert Level 2, or Warning Level 3 for safety of travel. It is also important to note whether or not your travel itinerary takes you through airports in one of the countries listed, as you may be putting your health at risk. Other colleges are recommending to their students, staff and faculty, preparing to travel to any of the listed areas, to consider a 14-day self-quarantine away from campus upon their return. Taking this action provides certainty to the individual that they have had no exposure to the virus. Students should remain in close contact with their instructors should you choose to quarantine voluntarily.

The District has not issued an official travel warning. However, if you are considering personal international travel, consult the Centers for Disease Control Traveler’s Health Site.

We are aware that our international students may have some questions that are specific to their travel plans. Please advise students to review the Centers for Disease Control Traveler’s Health Site and to consult with our Coordinator of International Education, Yasue Oneill, at extension 7525.

Large Gatherings/Events

The College will not cancel large gatherings or events unless it is evident that there is a specific health risk due to a change in the status of the virus in San Diego County.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I protect myself from getting sick (flu and/or coronavirus)?

If you are sick, please stay home from school or work. To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, please follow these important tips as follows:

  • Get a free flu shot at a County of San Diego Public Health Center Immunization Clinic.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and encourage others to do the same.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Seek immediate medical care if symptoms become more severe, e.g., high fever or difficulty breathing.

What do I need to know about the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)?

An outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified starting in Wuhan, China. Some patients have had a mild illness, while others have been more severe, and some have died.  Although coronaviruses are a group of viruses that aren’t new, this is a new type of coronavirus and we are still learning about it. However, the health risk to the general public in California remains low.

Typically, human coronaviruses cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illness. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

In some cases, COVID-19 can cause more severe respiratory illness.

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