On April 14, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley Ortiz spoke to student reporters and editors about the Chancellor’s COVID-19 response, federal aid, and resources available at this time for students.
Whereas, the San Mateo County Community College District announced transitioning classes online throughout summer. Chancellor Oakley said it could be possible students might not fully return to campus in fall.
“If we don’t need that flexibility, great, but we are asking colleges to be prepared in the fall and the spring to be able to work through that scenario,” Oakley said.
The Chancellor talked about executive orders that are in place to support students by allowing for flexibility by temporarily suspending student withdrawal regulations, makes grading policy more flexible for students and addressing the continuity of education in our colleges during the COVID-19. Chancellor Oakley also appreciated the efforts of colleges during this crisis.
“Many of our colleges have been donating personal protective equipment to local medical centers or to the Office of Emergency Services, as well as ventilators, and just doing an amazing job at responding,” said Oakley.
He further spoke about the aid, signed into law by President Trump on March 27, which will help cover costs related to college attendance, and provide students with resources from laptops to meals.
“Currently, nearly $300 million in aid to students with the greatest need will be arriving soon. So that they may continue their educational goals. The CARES Act, which is what the recently enacted law is called, provides colleges flexibility and how to award this emergency aid for students, which is what the California Community Colleges sought in this legislation.” said Oakley.
He pressed on the importance of census for students.
“This is incredibly important because the resources that we need and the representation that you deserve as students will be impacted by how many people are counted in the census,” Said Oakley. “College students are at risk of being undercounted in California and this is essential.”
Chancellor Oakley also made it clear that there was a restriction on the aid, it was for all resident students.
“The money and some of you may have been following this but half of the money that’s allocated to the colleges from the CARES Act is specific to student needs. That student needs no restrictions at this point on those funds. So, we have asked our colleges to prioritize our resident students and what we mean by a resident student is every student that attends our college. We’re not going to make a distinction,” said Oakley.
Chancellor Oakley encouraged students to succeed in college amid the current crisis.
“We feel the resources will help many students get through these next several weeks, if not months, as we continue to struggle through this crisis,” Oakley said.