Following PCC’s turbulent first week back on campus the Safe Learning Environment Committee, a subcommittee of the Academic Senate, has joined those in opposition against the college’s decision to resume in-person instruction.

In an email sent out to Academic Senate President Gena Lopez and other Executive Board Members and Senators on Thurs, Jan 27, the committee outlined specific measures they hope the Senate will enact on their behalf, including demanding that PCC administration establish policy that allows faculty and students to self-determine their preferred mode of instruction, whether that be in-person or online.

The committee also calls for the Senate to initiate discussions over whether “a vote of no confidence in the current administration is warranted,” as well as the need for campus-wide training that apply a “human-centered lens” to policy that impact health and safety.

“The pandemic is not over at all; variants continue to evolve and are predicted to impact us over the next five years,” the email wrote. “We, as a Committee, do not have faith that this current administration will be able to humanely respond to these continued challenges in any way that ensures safety or equity.

The committee’s argument echoes that of PCC’s Faculty Association, in which both parties feel that the college has proven unable to provide the quick and reliable testing initially promised to all students, faculty and staff in the weeks leading up to the resume of in-person instruction.

President Lopez responded to the emails claims over the weekend, citing the committee’s actions were not within the “protocols of Shared Governance” and that they did not fall under the purview of the Senate.

The committee’s decision to propose and “discuss concerns regarding working decisions” is a potential infringement on the negotiation rights of the faculty union.

Lopez, who dually functions as coordinator of Ujima, a program designed to empower and support African-American students at PCC, also condemned the implication that the college’s return to campus was “white supremacy in action.”

“I have built my career and reputation on my service to Black and Brown Lancers,” Lopez wrote via email. “Intimating my support of measures that endanger the lives or affect the academic success of students belonging to these communities is offensive.”

During an Academic Senate meeting on Mon, Jan. 24, Superintendent-President Erika Endrijonas defended the district’s decision to remain in-person.

“We believe with the safety protocols that we have in place, it is safe to return to the college,” Endrijonas said. “We have mandatory masking. We are doing baseline testing for everyone. We have HEPA air filters in every classroom. We have 50% capacity in every classroom. We have a mandatory vaccine requirement. We have everything in place to have this be a safe environment.”

Endrijonas also noted that the college administers KN95 or N95 masks to all employees who request to be fitted for one, as well as surgical-grade masks for all students.

The committee asserts, however, that in this meeting, Endrijonas was unable to provide a “reasonable answer” for worrying conditions at campus testing sites.

It is alleged that between the dates of Jan. 22 and Jan. 25 that those in line for rapid Covid-19 testing averaged wait times between two to four hours, causing some students to be late for work or class. Moreover, due to PCC’s vendor failing to provide enough nursing staff to administer and test samples, it was noted that administration asked managers and other personnel tied to the college to record and send out results via email.

“[Academic Senate] Senators expressed concerns about school staff having access to confidential medical information as well as their lack of training to be able to help with this task,” the email wrote. “It must be noted: the administration actually asked unqualified people to read and email test results, which is a complete violation of HIPAA regulations.”

Since then, the college has continued to make revisions to testing sites and procedures at the PCC main campus, including only allowing walk-up testing and moving testing sites to lot 4 and lot 5.

Those who plan to visit PCC must now complete the college’s daily health survey before doing so.

The Academic Senate is expected to reconvene soon to discuss the issue further.

 

This story has been updated to include statements made by Academic Senate President Gena Lopez on Saturday, Jan. 29.

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