Happy New Year!
The district was closed from December 24, 2020 to January 4, 2021 for winter break. I hope everyone had time to rest and recharge from a chaotic 2020. There continues to be many superb endeavors at the college to serve our students and community. January brings the first news from the Governor’s Office concerning the State budget for 2021-2022. Details will be shard at the Board budget workshop scheduled for January 28, 2021.
District enrollment for Spring 21 is approximately 6% below Spring 20 at this juncture. There remains several weeks prior to the start of instruction and the gap may close. Regionally, districts are experiencing 15%-20% enrollment declines. These declines are part of the long-term effects of the pandemic. Statewide, students are increasingly moving from full-time to part-time or dropping out for a semester.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
On Monday, January 18, Mendocino-Lake Community College District will join the country in celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In so doing, we honor the life and legacy of one of the great figures in modern American history.
The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on today. We exemplify Dr. King’s dream by advocating for peace, unity, love, change, leadership, and service. Advocating for these principles has never been easy — not a half-century ago when Dr. King was alive, nor today. With the all-too-pervasive evidence of inequity in places around the country, each of us is called upon to consider ways that we can contribute to healing, justice, and prosperity for all.
Administrative Services Updates
The Governor released the 2021/22 State Budget Proposal on Friday, January 8. This budget provides the first look at what 2021/22 may mean for community college finances and may provide changes to the current year budget.
The Information Technology department is working with several departments to allow about 30 college staff to bring their desk telephone home with them while they’re working remotely. This provides students with the ability to reach key staff and departments directly by phone, eliminating the need for messages and return calls that can be frustrating to both students and staff.
In-Person Support Services
The recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases in our community has required that we revise our plan for in-person support services for the Spring semester. In order to continue our efforts of promoting a safe and healthy educational environment, in-person student support services will be greatly reduced. While students will still be able to complete all their forms, tasks, and get assistance from staff remotely, most in-person support at the start of the semester has been suspended. Our plan initially called for staff to be available on campus at the start of the semester to facilitate student enrollment, similar to our efforts in the Fall semester. Nevertheless, if students are in a program like CAMP, FYI or EOPS, they will be notified of drive-by options for them to pick up their materials. Additionally, the Lending Library will still be available to students as well as continued support online, over the phone, at the Library, and Centers.
Multiple departments at Mendocino College have collaborated on the coordination of student workshops for the Spring semester. At the moment, over 20 student workshops will be held online throughout the semester to support students. Topics to be covered include how to use Canvas, time management strategies, financial aid support, stress management, study skills, among others. These workshops will be made available to students at different points of the semester and are open to all students. While specialized programs like FYI will organize a number of the workshops, including virtual workshops on January 13 & 14 to help prepare students for the Spring semester, they will be made available to all students. Similarly, Gayle Zepeda and Malissa Donegan have again collaborated to continue the RES Café series of workshops they developed in the Fall to support Native American students. These workshops will continue to be open to all students while also closely addressing the needs of our Native American students.
Staff in the financial aid office have been holding virtual FAFSA/Dream Act workshops to support students in completing their 2021-2022 applications by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline. Additionally, they are in the process of notifying students of their Academic Progress to determine their eligibility for Spring financial aid. Students who have their financial aid file complete will be disbursed their Pell Grant on January 13 for the spring semester. In addition, they have continued to contact students who were enrolled in the Fall semester but are still missing requirements to complete their financial aid file.
Students who are new to EOPS will attend an online EOPS Orientation to be admitted to the program. During the orientation, new students are given information about the EOPS program and services. The EOPS drive-thru kick-off for the Ukiah campus will be held on January 14. Students will be given their “Tools for School”, (a set of school supplies) and will have an opportunity to request textbooks and calculators from the EOPS Lending Library. Additional drive-thru kick-off dates will be scheduled at the Centers as needed.
As courses, professional development, and meetings remain primarily online, faculty and administration continue to collaborate to provide instruction and support for teaching and learning. While the challenges continue in this context, faculty, instructional deans and support staff have done remarkably well keeping our offerings available, relevant, and at a high quality through the pandemic. Also, they have worked diligently to offer learning support to students to encourage success in online instruction. This includes continuing to provide limited in person resources at the library and at the Centers to make sure that students have adequate technology and quiet space.
In their continuing efforts to support instructors teaching online, the Faculty Helping Faculty group held a 3rd in their series of Canvas discussions on January 6. This session featured DE Director Vivian Varela presenting on how to closed caption videos. The group will continue with regular Zoom Q&A sessions throughout the semester.
In addition, to further support students, they have created two resources for faculty to share with students (a list of student support resources and a list of Canvas tutorials) and, led by Tascha Whetzel, have revamped the DE homepage to highlight student online success resources. Emily Hashemian, EOPS Counselor ,will provide two Zoom sessions for students on 1/13 and 1/19 to provide guidance on how to use Canvas successfully.
Deans Xu, Aseltyne, and Montes are meeting with part-time faculty via Zoom on the evening of Wednesday January 13 for the Part-Time Faculty Orientation that precedes each semester. This event includes regular updates and reminders, as well as a presentation on student support programs, Library Resources, and how to use the Canvas video recording feature, Canvas Studio.
On Thursday, January 14, all faculty will participate in a “Faculty Conference” which will include a variety of workshops. The day will be aimed at reflecting on teaching and learning in the current context and into the future.
All Center locations remain primarily remote, with limited opening planned around registration. A few on ground classes are planned at each site for courses whose student learning outcomes cannot be met remotely. Dual enrollment partnerships remain strong, with college courses continuing to be offered remotely at almost all partnering high schools. Remote dual enrollment parent and student workshops are currently being organized for a strong Fall 2021 offering.
The Basic Wildland Firefighting Academy, FSC-68, will offer basic-entry level structure and wildland firefighting training for individuals seeking a career with state, federal, and local fire departments. The course starts 1/19/21 and ends 3/12/21 at the Cal Fire Howard Forrest Training site in Willits.
The Emergency Medical Services EMS-135 Emergency Medical Technician course recently was awarded funding for student scholarships from MedStar Ambulance Services of Ukiah for students taking the qualifying examination for the California State EMT-1 certificate. The course covers basic assessment and treatment of life-threatening injuries, extrication of the injured, and ambulance procedures.
The Strong Workforce program local funding will continue to support the CTE instructional classroom upgrades by purchasing and installing 25 new desktops, computer equipment, projectors and several wall monitors in room 1280 and 1290 Macmillan Hall. The CTE classroom upgrades will be completed prior to the return of Computer Science and Business face-to-face courses.