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News Update

On August 3, 2021, the Los Rios Board of Trustees voted to implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all employees and all students who access district facilities. See talking points and templates for employees (note: you must be logged in with your Los Rios Gmail to view this resource).

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Overview

Since March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented and rapid transition of classes and services to the online environment. Though there are still many questions about how long we will operate predominantly online, we must plan for our eventual return to campus now.

The fall 2021 semester has significantly more in-person offerings and some student support services have returned (at least partially) to serve students in person. Expanded in-person service is predicated on continued positive trends in public health conditions and the reduction and elimination of state and local COVID-19 mitigation measures.

The Los Rios colleges are also planning for a full return to campuses for the spring 2022 semester, which begins in January, as public health conditions continue to improve.

Read the Reopening Planning Team Charter.

Los Rios Summit for the Future

The challenging and historic 2020-21 academic year is nearing its end, though many of the issues that have dominated our thinking and planning still remain.

With public health conditions improving, what does a post-pandemic Los Rios look like? How will we turn our shared commitment to equity and social justice into meaningful change and action for our students? What role does organizational structure play in achieving these goals, and what is gained or lost if we do things differently?

These questions are hard, and they get more and more complex the more we unpack them. On Thursday, May 6, the chancellor and four college presidents hosted a virtual Los Rios Summit for the Future, where they explored these topics and began to examine what we as an organization can expect in the months and years ahead.

FAQ: Classes and Schedule

Will the Los Rios colleges offer classes online or in person for fall 2021?

The fall 2021 schedule will include a mixture of both online and in-person classes with significantly more in-person classes than we offered in spring 2021. The principal factor in our ability to offer more on-ground classes is whether or not social distancing requirements are in place in our region when classes begin. As social distancing and other public health safety requirements are eased, we will continue to bring more classes and services back in person.

In-person offerings will include:

  • Allied Health Programs – Classes in Allied Health programs that were on-ground in fall 2020/spring 2021 will again be scheduled on-ground.
  • "Impossible-to-Convert/Complete" Programs – A total of 27 programs that we have been entirely or mostly unable to offer at all in the past year. These programs will proceed on-ground regardless of the status of social distancing requirements, with significant safety planning to ensure that students, faculty, and staff are safe.
  • "Difficult-to-Convert" Programs/Courses – Classes in "Difficult-to-Convert" areas such as hard science labs, ESL, the arts, and affinity cohort programs like Umoja, Puente, and TRIO. If social distancing is required in the weeks leading up to the start of the fall term, then these courses will all be reverted to online classes.
  • Additional On-Ground Math and English Classes – A substantial number of new math/statistics/quantitative reasoning and English (ENGWR only) courses (these are additional classes above what is already planned for the schedule) in support of our districtwide focus on equity and completion. These classes will proceed on-ground regardless of the status of social distancing requirements, again with significant safety planning. Class caps for these sections will be lowered as they are scheduled, but raised if social distancing is no longer required prior to the start of classes.

Additional programs are also being considered based on recommendations that come through Department Chairs, Academic Senate, Deans, and Vice Presidents of Instruction, and all will be discussed at Chancellor's Cabinet before a decision is finalized about their scheduling.

LRCFT has already negotiated an agreement that ensures we will not require any full-time faculty member other than those in the original 37 Allied Health and "Impossible-to-Convert" programs to teach on-ground. Those in disciplines with expanding on-ground offerings will need to make the determination to opt into on-ground classes based on the expectation that not all faculty, staff, or students will be vaccinated and that we will require, with limited ability to enforce, mask-wearing as long as required by county or state health guidelines. We also recognize that these evolving decisions will have an impact on other units, and we will continue to work closely with our labor partners to ensure that all of our employees have options to keep themselves and their families healthy and safe.

FAQ: In-Person Services

Will student services be back on campus?

We expect to bring back at least a portion of most student services back on campus in fall 2021, should public health conditions allow. Implementation of these critical services for students will vary college-by-college based on student demand and unique staffing dynamics. 

As always, all discussions about which programs and services to resume on campus are being made through the lens of existing policies, CBAs, and MOUs with our labor partners and based on feedback from students and stakeholder groups.

When will we be back to "normal?"

With so many questions still surrounding the fall 2021 semester, we understand the challenges in planning for the spring 2022 semester and beyond. That said, we also know that so many of our students, faculty, and staff are anxious and eager to return fully to campus in a safe and healthy way.

We are currently planning for a full return to campuses in spring 2022, with the recognition that our "new normal" may look different than what we have all been used to. All decision-making will continue to be driven by the most current public health information as well as existing policies, CBAs, and MOUs with our labor partners. Much will change between now and the time that decisions for spring 2022 will need to be finalized, and we will continue to work closely with stakeholder groups on all of those discussions and keep everyone informed along the way.

Are we still using "essential" employee lists?

No – in accordance with county and state guidance and in preparation for the resumption of on-campus activity, we are no longer utilizing "essential" employee lists for granting access to college or district facilities. Individual staff and faculty members should still follow college and district processes regarding coming on campus until an announcement is made about a broader and universal reopening.

FAQ: Health and Safety

What should an employee do if a student informs them they have tested positive for COVID or been directly exposed to someone who has?

It is very important to report this information immediately to your supervisor/manager.

If the student comes to a classroom or student service area and informs you that they have tested positive for COVID, then escort them outside to talk to them to avoid exposure (more than 15-minute contact at less than six feet).

Get their contact information and ask them to go home and await further instructions. Contact your manager or supervisor to inform them of the situation. Your supervisor or manager will walk you through the COVID reporting process, which includes providing specific information about the exposure, identifying potential exposure to others who were around the student, and other relevant information.

After the COVID team of college nurses and Dr. Iser reviews the report, they will provide guidance on the next steps.

Find procedures, forms, and training for each location:

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 or am exposed to someone who has? How long do I need to quarantine? Who will let me know when I can return to campus/class?

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then do not come to campus. Email your supervisor or professor to let them know you have tested positive for COVID.

If you were exposed for more than fifteen minutes in a 24-hour period and within six feet of an infected person, do not come to campus. Email your supervisor or professor to let them know you were exposed to COVID.

After your email is received, a college representative will reach out to you to gather more information. The quarantine period is different depending on whether you are fully vaccinated, have symptoms, and/or have tested positive for COVID-19. Our COVID team will provide guidance once the situation is reviewed and evaluated. Guidance will include when you are allowed to return to campus/class.

Find procedures, forms, and training for each location:

What should faculty or staff do if a student comes to campus after October 1 and is neither vaccinated nor exempted from the vaccination requirement?

After October 1, 2021, all students will need to have a cleared status to be in an in-person class or access any in-person services. If a student is cleared, then that means that they are in compliance with our vaccination requirement, either by having submitted proof of vaccination or by having an approved exemption (and associated accommodation) on record.

If a student who is not cleared attempts to come to an in-person class or access any in-person services, then faculty or staff should address the issue with the student by restating the policy as they would with any other classroom student conduct issue and ask the student to leave immediately. Once the student leaves, the faculty and staff should contact their college's student conduct officer to report the situation, so that appropriate disciplinary actions can be taken immediately.

If the student still refuses to comply, then faculty and staff can use the below phone numbers to contact a manager on duty to help address the situation.

How should faculty handle student absences from in-person classes after October 1?

Faculty should follow existing absence/attendance policies outlined in syllabi for any student who does not come to class as a result of not being cleared for in-person classes or services. The absences are unexcused and should be treated as any other absence by faculty. Students should be dropped by faculty for non-attendance if they violate the attendance policy outlined in the class syllabus.

Must students be vaccinated or cleared via an exemption to attend fully online classes?

No, the vaccination requirement only applies to students coming to campus. Students enrolled in fully online classes do not need to be cleared and should not be dropped from fully online classes if they are not cleared.

However, even students taking fully online classes must be cleared to access any other in-person services, such as tutoring, computer labs, and so on. Students who want to enroll in in-person classes for the spring 2022 semester – when we expect we will offer more in-person classes than in the fall – will need to be cleared before they can enroll.

As a result, and in the interest of public health, we strongly encourage students in fully online classes to get vaccinated immediately.

How can faculty know which students in their in-person classes are in compliance with the vaccination requirement?

Each class roster will show which students are cleared. If a student's status does not show cleared on the roster, then that student is not cleared to attend in-person classes or access in-person services. Student services staff can also look up an individual student's status for in-person services.

After October 1, 2021, all students need a cleared status to be in any on-ground class or access any in-person services. If a student is cleared, then they are in compliance with our vaccination requirement – either by having submitted proof of vaccination or by having an approved exemption (and associated accommodation) on record.

If a student who is not cleared attempts to come to an in-person class or access any in-person services, then faculty or staff should address the issue with the student by restating the policy as they would with any other classroom or campus student conduct issue and ask the student to leave immediately. After the student leaves, faculty and staff should contact their dean or supervisor to report the situation, so that appropriate disciplinary actions can be taken immediately.

If the student still refuses to comply, then faculty and staff can use the below phone numbers to contact a manager on duty to help address the situation.

What is the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Program?

Cal/OSHA regulations require that employers implement a site-specific, written COVID-19 prevention program to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions, and provide face coverings. The program includes:

  • Identifying and evaluating employee exposures to COVID-19 health hazards
  • Implementing effective policies and procedures to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions (such as safe physical distancing, modifying the workplace, and staggering work schedules)
  • Providing and ensuring workers wear face coverings to prevent exposure in the workplace
  • Provide effective training and instruction to employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19-related benefits that affected employees may be entitled to under applicable federal, state, or local laws
  • Read the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards – What Employers Need to Know

FAQ: Masks

Will masks be required on Los Rios campuses during fall 2021?

July 20, 2021 Update

Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently relied on recommendations from public health experts regarding the best approaches to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe. In mid-July, Sacramento County and Yolo County announced new "strong" recommendations that all residents, vaccinated and unvaccinated, again wear masks at all times indoors to combat the growing number of cases and hospitalizations due to the new, highly contagious Delta variant.

As such, and given the new guidance, effective immediately we are reinstating a mask requirement for all students, faculty, and staff in any indoor space in Los Rios regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required for outdoor activities; however, masks are always permissible and anyone who feels safer or more comfortable wearing a mask outdoors is encouraged to do so.

The changing guidance on masks will have no impact on our plans to offer more in-person classes and services this fall, as there are still no indications that there will be any state or county social distancing requirements in place.

If you have a medical condition, mental health condition, communication disability, or other disability that precludes you from wearing a face mask and you seek an exemption from the Los Rios COVID-19 face mask requirements, please download the Student COVID-19 Face Mask Medical Exemption Request Form and consult with your physician, mental health counselor, therapist, or medical professional. The form can be printed and filled out by hand or filled out digitally. Signed and completed exemption requests should be emailed to the appropriate college:

Questions can be sent to each college using these same email addresses.

What should faculty or staff do if a student will not wear their mask?

Following direction from the Sacramento County Department of Public Health, all students and employees must wear masks in any indoor space on any Los Rios campus. Any student or employee who does not comply with this requirement is subject to disciplinary action.

If a student refuses to wear their mask, then the employee should address the issue with the student by restating the policy as they would with any other classroom or campus student conduct issue. If the student still refuses to comply, then the employee can use the below phone numbers to contact a manager on duty to help address the situation.

Will the colleges provide masks to employees and students?

Yes, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are available at each college through the Operations Department.

If I have an approved exemption from wearing a mask, can I still come on campus?

In most cases, a person with an approved medical mask exemption is allowed on campus with required additional protective measures to ensure the health and safety of our campus communities. In the event that you have a medical condition, mental health condition, communication disability, or other disability that precludes you from wearing a face mask, we will work with you on appropriate accommodations.

Employees who are interested in pursuing an accommodation related to the COVID-19 face mask requirements should contact their college or district office ADA officer.

Is there a specific mask I must wear? Do certain masks not qualify?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are many types of masks you can use to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading COVID-19, including cloth and disposable masks. Choose a mask that fits your face snugly.

For more information about selecting the right mask, the CDC has a number of great resources:

Scarfs, ski masks, balaclavas, bandanas, turtlenecks, collars, or single layers of fabric are not acceptable face coverings, as they do not provide adequate protection from the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, face shields cannot be used in lieu of masks unless a part of a specific accommodation for an approved mask exemption.

FAQ: Vaccination Requirement

Are vaccinations required for faculty and staff to return to campus in fall 2021?

COVID-19 vaccinations are required by October 1, 2021, for all Los Rios employees and all students who access district and college facilities (including in-person classes, student support services, or any other indoor on-campus activity). This decision comes as we face rising case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths in our region and throughout the country.

Consistent with all applicable law, limited exemptions will be granted for eligible documented medical conditions as well as narrowly defined and sincerely held religious beliefs. Learn how to request a medical or religious vaccination requirement exemption.

Submit your medical and religious exemption requests by September 15, 2021, to make sure there is time for review, an interactive process (which may include the submission of additional supporting information), and a determination prior to the October 1 effective date of the vaccination requirement. You will be notified of the status of your exemption request after the evaluation is complete.

Do I need to use sick time or vacation time if I have a vaccination appointment scheduled during work hours?

All Los Rios employees are eligible for supplemental leave to get their COVID-19 vaccination without using regular sick leave or vacation time.

To take advantage of this statewide benefit (which is set to expire at the end of September):

  1. Notify your supervisor.
  2. Report your absence in Employee Self-Service as sick leave with the notation Emergency Sick Leave in the comments.
  3. Fill out the COVID Leave Form and submit it to Employee Benefits at DO-Benefits@losrios.edu.

If you have already taken sick leave in 2021 to get your vaccine and have not submitted your form for reimbursement, you may still do so.

FAQ: Facilities, Sanitation, and Campus Access

When will facilities be ready for faculty and staff to return?

We understand and appreciate the desire of many faculty and staff to have regular access to their office space as soon as possible. Maintenance and custodial staff are currently on campus working towards reopening our facilities for faculty and staff use on August 7, assuming that public health conditions continue to improve.

Between now and then, facilities staff is working to ensure that all buildings on our campuses are fitted with appropriate air filtration systems (see Making Our Buildings Resilient During COVID-19) and that all building functions are operational after a prolonged break in occupancy.

What is the process to "ready" a building? What types of inspection, testing, and replacement of equipment will occur – daily, weekly, and monthly – before the start of fall 2021?

COVID mitigation measures to prepare our facilities primarily involve building ventilation and air filtration systems, but Facilities Management (FM) would also do a full HVAC system functions test and inspection for each building prior to occupancy (as outlined in Making Our Buildings Resilient During COVID-19).

Before the pandemic, we already regularly performed these system checks throughout the year, typically coinciding with filter replacements (every four months). Now, we will perform additional checks before reopening facilities. These checks help ensure systems are performing the necessary CDC/ASHRAE recommended air exchanges and sufficient outside fresh air is being pulled into the buildings.

Before reopening a facility, we will also verify that we can remotely communicate with the building's HVAC controls through the District's Energy Management System (EMS). Read Making Our Buildings Resilient During COVID-19 to learn more.

When will all buildings have air filtration equivalent to N95 masks?

All buildings that are currently occupied have MERV-13 filters, the industry standard for COVID-19 mitigation. MERV-13 filters are recommended because they can trap smaller particles, including viruses, and are equivalent to N95 masks with regards to protection and air quality.

In the event a building's HVAC system cannot accommodate the MERV-13 filters, we are performing additional building "flushing" two hours prior and two hours after occupancy as recommended by CDC/ASHRAE for these situations. As more buildings open to accommodate more people coming on to campus, we will perform HVAC system checks and filter changes prior to occupancy.

Buildings are being prioritized in the order they will be occupied with the goal of all buildings being ready (with system checks and filter replacements complete) no later than July 31, 2021, so we are prepared for whatever on-campus activities take place in the fall. Read Making Our Buildings Resilient During COVID-19 to learn more.

FAQ: Decision-Making

Will official college or district travel be allowed after October 1?

After October 1, 2021, travel for students and staff is allowable for those who are vaccinated or cleared through the exemption process. Existing supervisory and budgetary approval protocols must still be followed.

Who is making decisions around reopening?

We are in an era of only complicated and hard decisions, often exasperated by the fact that we frequently have a little information to frame our decision-making. We are committed to working closely with all stakeholders and constituencies to solicit feedback on important decisions and communicate clearly about what is being decided and when.

To that end, we have already begun leveraging the Chancellor's Cabinet – which is designed explicitly to include voices of all constituent leaders from across our four colleges and the district (see Regulation R-3411: Participatory Governance) – as a steering committee for this decision-making process. Importantly, our labor partners are at the table as well, and we will continue to work with them directly on any items that are negotiable.

Though many of the decisions regarding reopening specific parts of our instructional, student services, or administrative operations will ultimately be made by the chancellor under the direction of our elected Board of Trustees, we must and will make those decisions based on the counsel of public health experts and feedback from students, faculty, and staff.

If we can’t offer everything on campus, then how will we decide which classes or services to prioritize?

As we look at expanding on-campus instructional offerings, the first priority is to resume impossible to convert classes and programs (such as classes and programs that have been in complete hibernation since the move to remote operations) and students who may have been able to complete some classes, but have not been able to complete all the necessary coursework to make progress towards completing their program. Getting these students back engaged and moving towards their degree or certificate is the top priority.

The next priority is programs and classes that have been particularly difficult to convert to online, classes where critical aspects of the curriculum have had to be altered or skipped, and specific math and English classes critical to students' academic success. Additional programs are also being considered based on recommendations that come through Department Chairs, Academic Senate, Deans, and Vice Presidents of Instruction, and all will be discussed at Chancellor's Cabinet before a decision is finalized about their scheduling.

With student services, based on feedback from students and other stakeholders we are prioritizing services that we have either been unable to effectively offer online or services where in-person delivery has the potential to have the greatest impact on student success. As public health conditions continue to improve, more programs will be considered and ultimately brought back to campuses.

March 1 Reopening Planning Report

Based on engagement with key stakeholders – including the board of trustees and labor and senate partners as appropriate – the Los Rios Reopening Planning Team submitted a refined report titled, A Framework for Reopening In-Person Instruction, Student Services, and Administrative Services. The report outlines a detailed and specific framework and plan for reopening to the chancellor and college presidents.

The Los Rios Reopening Planning Team also released an initial Reopening Planning Report in January 2021 after gathering feedback at Flex Week Reopening Plan Listening Sessions, through this website, and in other campus- and district-wide discussions.

As public health information evolves and vaccination rates increase, our planning parameters can and will change.

Input and Feedback Form

Provide input and feedback on the reopening report or the reopening planning process in general. All submissions will be publicly visible.

Stakeholder Engagement

Employee Feedback

See the reopening feedback we received through our online feedback form. Note: you must be logged in to your Los Rios Google account to view this information.

Steering Committee

On Monday, January 25, 2021, the decision was made to have Chancellor's Cabinet – which includes representatives from all of our Academic, Classified, and Student Senates, as well as all of our labor partners – serve as the steering committee for reopening.

Resources and Related Links

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