California Community Colleges Chancellor introduces reopening plans

Hate crimes, budgets, and vaccines are all being situated

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Image created with Canva by Vanessa Tran

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley covers topics regarding how things are going to be planned now that schools are reopening

David Guerrero and Vanessa Tran

California Community Colleges are working on reopening school campuses with the correct protocols. 

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley, in a teleconference with student media over Zoom on Thursday, March 25, discussed  several topics and concerns that have arisen within colleges across the state. 

More than 50 participants from California community colleges’ student media attended the meeting.

In regards to the Asian and Asian-American hate crimes that have occurred recently, Oakley said, “We all need to come together to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect the Asian American and Pacific Islander community on campuses in our community.”

He said that the community colleges in the state do not tolerate anti-Asian or Pacific Islander sentiment, actions or violence in any form.

With COVID-19 cases decreasing, there has been a lot of thought put into reopening schools for the next semester. If campuses were to reopen, Oakley said he needs clarity so that the process goes safely as planned. 

“Mental health issues are impacting … when we think about reopening, we want to make sure that services that open first are those that can help students,” Oakley said.

To ensure that students are receiving the help they need, Oakley said that he wants to guarantee that campuses will remain ongoing after the first reopening, so that these services will be available.

He said that all of the colleges have the resources and guidance from the county’s public health offices, but wants to make sure that everyone has access to the vaccine. He said that these colleges received $2.3 billion in COVID-related assistance, half of the amount will be used for emergency grants for students. 

In February, the COVID relief that came from Congress approved the inclusion of $100 million for emergency student financial assistance grants. In addition, he said that the state assistance included $20 million for colleges and offices to outreach and re-engage with past students that may have left because of COVID. 

Oakley said that community colleges have been in contact with the California Department of Health, volunteering all of the campuses to be vaccination sites.

“The first thing we need to think about is how do we reach the students that need the one-on-one support the most? That could be everything from financial aid, support, to mental health services in the support packages we talked about, both in terms of what’s in the current budget in California,” Oakley said.

With the chances of staying open, Oakley said that he is thrilled to see what can arise. 

“But, nonetheless, you can expect to see talk of reopening significantly ramp up and some type of reopening coming to fruition in the fall, including intercollegiate sports so those will begin to come back as well in some form or fashion so we’re excited to see this,” he said.

In concerns to the journalism department, he said that he will advocate for students so that their voices could be heard. He encouraged journalists to attend meetings and ask for resources to keep their community strong.

“I’m confident in the next couple of months,” Oakley said, “we will see guidance, more access to the vaccine so the certainty around what fall will look like becomes more and more clear.”