How Community Colleges and Boards Are Coping with COVID-19

as of March 18, 2020


Immediate Actions Some Community College Boards and Colleges Have Taken to Respond to State Mandates and Virus Prevention on Campus

Operational Responses to COVID-19

  • Closed the whole campus

  • Creating/Implementing emergency Task Force with essential personnel
  • Moved all classes online; eliminated labs or postponed lab work
  • Provided limited access to a few parts of the campus such as sanitized spaces in the library, computer labs, etc.
  • Extended spring break.
  • Intensifying collaborations with local high schools, colleges, and agencies to help identify best practices based on local circumstances and state and federal mandates
  • Cancelled social, arts, sports, tours, performances, fundraising events, graduation ceremonies
  • Mandated a deep clean of the entire campus, most especially group spaces, classrooms, labs, etc.
  • Recalled all international study abroad students
  • Providing professional development for faculty for online delivery
  • Faculty developing online course videos and presentations and special course packets for students without internet access.
  • Cancelling in-person tours and/or developing online campus “tours”
  • Extending admissions deadlines

Communications Responses to COVID-19

  • Developing website as a critical source of health information, FAQs, alerts, resources for students, staff and faculty and community members.

  • Communication Plans: Providing critical course information to students regarding assignments, final exams, social distancing guidelines, cancellations, etc.
  • Implementing communications plans of regular updates from board, president and college communications offices. Several chancellors and presidents have produced video messages as well.
  • Working closely with local and national news media, including print and social media, to provide updates and public relations information on college actions
  • Setting up daily/weekly conference calls with area presidents, high school principals, local health care agencies, consortia, relevant county, state and government officials, etc.
  • Keep a record of “lessons learned” to inform college preparation for future events

Governance Responses to COVID-19

  • Work closely with district administration (chancellors) and college presidents to clarify the focus of the institution: safety of all personnel and students and uphold the college mission.

  • Discuss, plan, review and develop appropriate college policies and procedural responses to deal with the immediate situation and plan for future actions.
  • Audit board and college safety and security policies and procedures; develop plan for new policies such as Teleworking & Telecommuting
  • Review all college safety and health policies and procedures by relevant college staff and experts and develop/update policies to provide long-term guidance for infectious diseases such as this.
  • Connect regularly with state trustee associations and national trustee (ACCT) and president organizations (AACC) to identify critical issues such as legislation, funding, ability of colleges to meet their mission to help students meeting learning outcomes, licenses, exams, etc.
  • Share promising practices and ideas about critical funding issues such as requests for refunds for students no longer allowed on campus or able to have clinicals or labs or hands-on career and technical training. (Some major organizations have cancelled licensing exams, and some hospitals report a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for students, reserved now only for essential staff.)
  • Stay apprised of both federal and state legislation regarding Fiscal Stimulus funding and set asides, funding relief to students & to colleges, appropriations for students, formula grants to institutions, etc. Much of any federal/state legislation is currently in process, and colleges are moving forward without a great deal of finalized information.

Student Success and Equity Responses to COVID-19

  • Implementing strategies to providing equity for all students by providing print materials, laptops, power supplies, equipment, etc. for them to do online coursework

  • Providing limited opportunities for small cohorts of students to complete required course lab work using CDC guidelines for social distancing, sanitation, etc. on a scheduled basis
  • Identify core services such as food insecurity, lack of housing, security, mental health, etc. that need to be continued to protect vulnerable students.
  • Stay apprised of upcoming cash-flow issues and where fiscal crunch will hit the colleges. Be ready to identify the greatest needs. Residence colleges, (24% of U.S. community colleges) for example, may take a greater hit for refunds or in some areas may be tagged to become a quasi-medical resource if hospital beds run short.

This list was compiled by ACCT Director of Trustee Education Norma Goldstein. ACCT members are encouraged to contact norma with information about what your college is doing to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what lessons you have learned.

ACCT will continually update and expand resources as this unprecedented event evolves.