We would like to share with you an update regarding our academic calendar – one that many of you have heard about and now may be wondering how the rest of the year will play out. As you are surely aware, the Riverside County Department of Public Health has extended our campus closure until June 19th. Yesterday, Governor Newsom publicly announced that all campuses will be shut down until the end of the academic year. No words can possibly do justice in describing our gratitude and admiration for the immense effort every single faculty member has undertaken to convert their courses online, as well as to our students for bearing with us during this emergency situation.
We also acknowledge and greatly appreciate the invaluable support of our dedicated staff members, support personnel, the district and college managements, as well as the Academic Senates, the Faculty Association and the CSEA throughout this process. It truly proves the commitment, professionalism, and dedication of our District to ensuring continuity and access to education for all of our students.
One extremely important issue that the faculty Association and District administration has discussed at length is Spring Break, which is a negotiated item that falls under the Faculty Association’s collective bargaining agreement. We have discussed in countless meetings how to fulfill our 16-week compressed calendar at this time. There are so many moving parts and different variables to consider when drafting an academic calendar. Every single modification to the calendar must take into the account the major impacts the change would make on various stakeholders, as well as the financial and budgetary implications for the entire district. Those of us on the Executive Board who have served on the Calendar Committee have always gone in thinking that it would be one of the easier tasks, only to find out that it is quite possibly one of the most taxing and heated sub-committees on which to serve for our District. This is simply because of the challenging task of finding any wiggle room – even under normal circumstances.
Given the emergency state we are in, the challenge has only gotten more difficult. The situation is further complicated by the fact that our contract does allow the District to amend, modify, or rescind practices set forth in the Agreement in cases of emergency, such as the one we are experiencing now. Additionally, the California Community College State Chancellor Oakley issued an executive order suspending sections of Title 5, sections 58002 and 55702, that pertain to individual colleges’ ability to amend the calendar year and provided additional guidance for colleges to extend their spring terms through June 30th.
We have worked extremely hard to review every meaningful option that our dedicated stakeholders have presented. We have also carefully studied the steps that are being contemplated by other districts and compared them to the need and priorities of our own. In the end, we have decided to adopt a compromise approach towards finalizing our agreement on the spring calendar. One important principle in the final compromise agreement is the unanimous effort to avoid any further harm to the education of our students and their ability to finish their courses in a timely manner. As such, we worked hard to avoid extending the spring semester beyond June 12th.
Another important principle in our compromise agreement is our understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be completely possible at this time. For example, most – if not all – Science and CTE labs were only recently transitioned to virtual labs or are still in the process of transitioning. Those labs may need more time to fulfill their basic requirements.
Thus, the management team and the Faculty Association, after working around the clock to weight the date, information and evidence provided by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor of Educational Services, have reached the following agreement, moving forward:
- We will roll spring break into the spring semester to make up for the week of instruction we lost when we shut down instruction to prepare for face-to-face online instruction. This way, we will be able to complete our 16-week compressed calendar and fulfill our State’s requirement for weekly student contact hours. We are very mindful of the fact that faculty have worked extremely hard to make this transition as successful as possible. Once again, we cannot thank them enough for their dedication and professionalism. As much as the above move and the prospect of yet another last-minute addition to our faculty’s already full plate sounds extreme, in the long run it should not prove to be the case. Classes that were already online or that have recently converted would most likely not have included assignments during Spring Break. Therefore, we anticipate that most faculty would retain their already devised course assignments for the rest of the semester.
- The compromise agreement takes into account that some programs and disciplines might not be able to fulfill their lab and lecture hours during this time. Those programs such as STEM and CTE will have the option to extend their semesters by a few days or a week or two in June. This decision will be made by the respective disciplines in consultation with their division dean, their Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Vice Chancellor for Educational Services and Strategic Planning.
Finally, our compromise agreement is additionally designed to safeguard our financial standing with the state by fulfilling our obligations to a 16-week compressed calendar. Some districts are already contemplating austerity measures in their preparations for the bleak economic forecast for next year. Our district remains fully committed to the well-being of our stakeholders and to its mission of providing affordable, accessible, and quality education to our community. We are fully convinced that we will make it through this unprecedented crisis with flying colors.
Again, we cannot adequately express our gratitude for all the incredible work all of you have accomplished, not only at such a fast pace but also under extreme duress. We greatly admire these efforts and thank you sincerely.
RCCD Chancellor, Wolde-Ab Isaac
Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Strategic Planning, Susan Mills
Moreno Valley President, Robin Steinbeck
Norco College President, Monica Green
Riverside College President, Gregory Anderson
The RCCD Faculty Association Executive Board:
Rhonda Taube, Dariush Haghighat, Fabian Biancardi, Peter Boelman, Jeff Rhyne, Monica Gutierrez, Garth Schultz, Shari Yates, Emily Philippsen, Asatar Bair, Diana Campuzano, Jillian Robertson