Pierce College faculty addressed students’ concerns about COVID- 19 Wednesday Nov. 17 during a Student Town Hall meeting via Zoom held by Interim President Ara Aguiar and the Associated Students Organization.
According to Aguiar, Pierce’s plans on offering hyflex classes, where students can either attend class in person or online for the spring semester. The school will utilize a technology called OWL (online web learning) to implement this new learning system.
“This is a way for us to be able to have small classrooms for those of you who want to be on campus and for those of you who want to be remote can still have the choice of a faculty member you want, yet you remain remote,” Aguiar said.
Later in the meeting, COVID-19 safety officer Paul Nieman described the college’s current sanitation procedures.
Nieman said that there has been an increase in Pierce’s custodial staff, with some members being provisional. The custodial staff uses a Clorox 360 machine everyday which releases a mist that sanitizes surfaces the mist comes into contact with. They have also installed minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) 13 air filters, which have the highest filtration possible.
Aguiar and Nieman then addressed COVID -19 vaccination requirements, as many student attendees had concerns about their vaccination status and being able to attend campus. For spring semester, in person classes and on campus activities require everyone to be fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or have a medical exemption or religious exemption. Proof of vaccination is only required when entering an indoor setting, building or facility.
According to Nieman, if students have already been fully vaccinated, they are only required to take a baseline test. Students and faculty can take their baseline tests in the North Gym Room 5600. Those who participate in athletics or performing arts may be required to take additional tests.
The COVID -19 exposure protocol was also discussed during the meeting. Nieman said there are two ways in which Pierce handles someone being exposed to the disease. By working with Biocept and having testing available on campus, Nieman said he will be notified of all positive test results and will then contact the individual who tested positive. If students or faculty do not take a test on campus, they should report positive results or possible exposure to either instructors or supervisors.
“We start the process where we will send you a tracing form that we need you to fill out with all the pertinent information,” Nieman said. “We need to know the last time you were on the campus so that we could find out what class you were in and get the rosters. It’s still a pretty manual process with emails being sent to get information so we can do the proper reporting and provide the proper answers to you, as to what steps need to be taken because each case is different.”
Aguiar and faculty members are still trying to find the most effective way to communicate the procedures and protocols to students. ASO president Qais Azizi recommended texting as an option to inform students of Pierce COVID related updates.
“At least from my personal experience and ASO senators I have met with, texting is a little more beneficial just because not a lot of people check their emails all the time,” Azizi said. “I would say texting is a little more accessible because students are always on their phone.”
Aguiar also reminded students that there are several resources for students who are struggling during these times.
“It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of us,” Aguiar said. “It’s just the uncertainty. So, feel free to contact someone at the Student Health Center. We have a great team there. I know that Vice President Astorga has even done classroom visits. So, this is not just a student thing. This is our entire community. In my opinion, that’s what resources are for, that’s what healthcare people are for—to help you.”