Gavilan College prepares post-pandemic return to campus and ‘new normal’ operationsby Jan Janes on Jul 9, 2021
The college gates, north and south, are open, as Gavilan College steps through a plan to resume normal operations while following the guidelines of local, regional, state and federal entities.
The Gavilan College Emergency Operations Center prepared a Return to Campus Guide issued campuswide.
In an interview, Superintendent/President Dr. Kathleen Rose reflected on the events since March 2020, when the college abruptly transitioned to online instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Kathleen Rose, pleased to be back in the office after months away.
“So, we’re back!"
"In saying that, we never really left,” Dr. Rose said. “Our staff provided student services in extraordinary ways. And that was the theme for the year.”
“Being at home over the last 15 plus months has been a test of endurance. It’s been a new way to operate and achieve outcomes for a college of almost 10,000 students and 450 employees,” she said. “Recognizing that you can continue and maintain relationships no matter where you are, and go at it, work at it in a different way.”
“I don’t necessarily feel it’s my favorite way, leading from my little home office. Compared to leading from campus, where I can walk and see people, see their body language, what they’re feeling and what they’re trying to express. You lose that, so much, when you’re on Zoom.”
“I really believe strongly that higher education overall, and community college specifically, is about the socialization we provide to students and each other in a campus environment. Students have the opportunity, the environment to explore their own curiosity and inquisitive minds. And I think there are limitations to that on Zoom.”
“Now we are coming back to the physical space where we can interact with each other and be able to talk to one another, see expressions in real time. That will take some adjustment as well. We will need to think about what lessons we have learned while working remotely, and how can we apply them to the new face of higher education in the future.”
“I have really enjoyed reading The Chronicle of Higher Education particularly over the time of the pandemic. There’s this article that I think is really important, talking about The Collapse of the Dream Machine.” (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 14, 2021, volume 67, issue 18).
“When you look at higher education, we know higher education is a transformative experience for students and for employees.”
“This article asks, 'Will higher education meet that same bar when we come back? What will be different about it?' Because now we know we are able to function in a remote environment. Some have succeeded tremendously, and others have failed dramatically. What does that mean?”
“Do we have that same level of faith in the transformative ability to provide that level of pathway and educational attainment leading to jobs and opportunities? Or is there a reset that is going to be happening in higher ed that we need to pay attention to first?”
“I think that will happen. I think we will have to pay attention to what has moved us differently, what has changed us, how we do cognitive processing, how we look at learning. The whole aspect of action-oriented learning has changed. I think we’re going to, all of us, pay attention to that.”
“Also, what goes on for us from a mindfulness capacity when we are with each other?”
“For me, that has been a big part of coming back. As soon as I was vaccinated I started coming back routinely. The actions of getting up, having my morning meditation, reading, journaling, getting in the car, driving here, working here, driving back, created a sense of homeostasis that I wasn’t experiencing at home. There, everything blurred, my work days were 20 hours, emails would come in at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I felt compelled to answer right away.”
“I’m looking forward to all of us exploring returning to campus, and what that means," Dr. Rose said. "How can we celebrate that, based on what we have learned?”
During the summer, Gavilan College will move through planned stages of reopening. Up until June 14, campus access was limited and most services and classes were online. From June 15 through August 23, campus access will be expanded, and safety protocols remain in place. Management employees returned full time to on-campus work July 1, and professional staff returns in staggered work shifts.
Beginning August 2, Student Services will offer on-campus appointments on Tuesdays through Thursdays. Beginning August 23, all professional support staff will return full time to on-campus work.
Fall 2021 classes also begin August 23, with an expanded on-campus choice of classes. Students eager to return can check out the Fall 2021 class schedule and register now!