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Planning a Safe Return

Planning for a healthy and safe return to our campuses.

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Since March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic and public health conditions in our region have led to an unprecedented and rapid transition of all classes and college operations to online. Our students, faculty, and staff have been extraordinarily flexible and creative in managing the countless variables associated with this transition, and have mitigated the effects of these circumstances incredibly, given the circumstances.

While there are still many questions about how long we will be operating predominantly online, we must plan for our eventual return to campus now. That planning is collaborative and takes many variables into account, including regional public health conditions, access to vaccinations, the needs of our students, instructional planning timelines, the physical readiness of our facilities, and many more. We plan to be prepared to return to campus for fall 2021, with the recognition that we don't yet know if that will be possible. This page is designed to transparently share and catalog those discussions, and to provide opportunities for all stakeholders to provide comments and feedback.

Read the Reopening Planning Team Charter.

Self-Check for Symptoms

As employees and students return to campus, we ask that everyone to do their part to keep our colleges healthy and safe. Before coming to campus each day, please do a self-check for any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you are sick or are experiencing any of the above symptoms, then please stay home. The above list does not include all possible symptoms. To learn more about symptoms, visit the Center for Disease Control.

Upcoming Semester Updates

Fall 2021 Reopening Planning

See reopening planning updates for the fall 2021 semester at American River College.

Fall 2021 Reopening Planning

Spring 2022 Reopening Planning

See reopening planning updates for the spring 2022 semester at American River College.

Spring 2022 Reopening Planning

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.

Watch Summit for the Future

Frequently Asked Questions

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 on-ground classes (more on-ground classes than we offered in spring 2021, but substantially fewer than usual). 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 this Fall. If so, bringing more classes back on-campus would dramatically reduce access to our colleges for thousands of students in our region. If and when social distancing requirements are eased, opportunities to bring more classes and services back on-ground are significantly greater.

On-ground 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.

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.

Is Los Rios reopening its campuses for summer 2021?

The summer 2021 semester will again be predominantly online with only limited exceptions for some impossible-to-convert programs and very limited on campus activities ("impossible-to-convert" programs include only programs that have not been offered online at all since the onset of the pandemic).

This includes programs training first responders and students in other allied health fields critical to our regional COVID-19 response efforts, as well as the potential for some impossible-to-convert career education programs that have been in hibernation since the onset of the pandemic. Of course, any possibility of offering in-person classes is contingent on public health conditions and having thorough safety plans in place.

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.

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.

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.

How can faculty and staff get vaccinated?

All Californians 12 and older are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. To learn how and where you can get your vaccine, visit the Sacramento County Vaccine Registration website. This site is updated frequently with information about eligibility and vaccine sites in your area, including how to access vaccines via healthcare providers. If you do not live in Sacramento County or you want more information about eligibility, then visit MyTurn, California's COVID-19 vaccine eligibility website.

Vaccinations are safe, effective, and an important tool to help us end the pandemic. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the CDC's "Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine" website.

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

Though we are tracking CDC recommendations regarding mask-wearing very closely, our campus mask policies are driven primarily by state and county public health orders. The Sacramento County Public Health Department's guidance for schools has aligned its mask standards to updated California Department of Public Health guidance for the use of face coverings , which currently states that face coverings are still required in indoor settings regardless of someone's vaccination status with very limited exceptions. Guidance regarding wearing masks outdoors is dependent on individuals' vaccination status:

  • For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
  • For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained , including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
As county and state public health experts update their guidance regarding the use of masks in our region, we will continue to update Los Rios policies in accordance with the latest available information.

Will vaccinations be required for faculty, staff, or students to return to campus in fall 2021?

With the University of California and California State University systems recently announcing vaccination requirements for all students, faculty, and staff for fall 2021, we know there are many questions about whether or not we will institute a similar policy in Los Rios. At this time, we do not anticipate that vaccines will be required for Los Rios students or employees for fall 2021.

Unlike California's four-year university systems, our colleges serve all students who come to us and we cannot simply replace unvaccinated students with vaccinated ones from a long waiting list. That said, we strongly encourage every Los Rios student and employee to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Approved Safety Plans

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