California Community Colleges chancellor introduces reopening plans

Hate crimes, budgets and vaccines are being situated


Image created with Canva by Vanessa Tran

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley met with more than 50 student journalists via Zoom on March 25 to discuss the possible reopening of community colleges for the fall semester.

David Guerrero and Vanessa Tran

California Community Colleges are planning to reopen school campuses with the correct protocols. 

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley discussed several topics and concerns that have arisen within colleges across the state via Zoom with more than 50 student media participants from California community colleges on March 25. 

Referring to 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 and 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..

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

In February, the COVID relief approved by Congress included of $100 million for emergency student financial assistance grants. In addition, the state assistance includes $20 million for colleges and offices to outreach and reengage with past students that may have left because of COVID. 

Oakley said 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 in terms of what’s in the current budget in California,” Oakley said.

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

“You can expect to see talk of 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,” Oakley said.

In reference to the Journalism Department, he said that he will advocate for students so that their voices will 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.”