TCC to Remain Remote for Winter Quarter
Dear College Community,
Over the past two weeks, we have monitored the spread of the Omicron variant in our region and the challenges it has presented to our entire community. We understand the variant has placed significant strain on our K-12, health care, childcare and workplace environments, and it has added to the worry all of us have about the health and safety of ourselves, our loved ones, our students, and our colleagues.
When we were planning winter quarter 2022, we hoped that we would begin the highly anticipated start of more in-person learning and student support services. So much has changed since those initial plans were made. On Monday, the U.S reported an all-time high daily case count of 1.3 million. In Tacoma, we are hearing from our frontline health care workers, who described distressed hospital environments, with staffing shortages, illnesses and high patient volumes. The amount of cases reflect the situation – the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported our case rate is the highest they’ve seen since the pandemic began. The Health Department recorded 6,271 cases between Dec. 26-Jan. 4 – a new record. And, alarmingly, Covid-19 hospitalizations have nearly tripled since the beginning of December.
At TCC, since December 20, we have received dozens of confirmed cases. Most of these cases are students and staff who have been remote. If they were on campus, we would have experienced mass exposures. And, we are already experiencing some employee shortages.
The data is clear: Omicron is likely to remain a significant health and safety risk for the next few months.
I want to thank all of you for sharing your questions, concerns and suggestions on how we should move forward: Your voice is and has been extremely important. After consultation with the Extended Leadership Team, the Combatting Covid-19 Taskforce, and review of current public health information, the TCC Leadership Team has decided to extend remote learning and services for the remainder of the winter quarter. There will still be some in-person instruction and services offered, but they will be limited (more information below.)
This timeframe is based on two new models published on Jan. 10th that predict currently the Omicron variant will peak in January and then begin to slow down in March – with case, hospitalization and death rates to remain higher than the lowest levels seen since June of 2021. Based on this information, and knowing that winter quarter classes will conclude in early March, we decided the most responsible action to help our community is to remain primarily remote. Again, I want to emphasize that there will still be some on-campus courses and support services offered.
In making this decision, we hope to provide stability and consistency for our students, who have been stressed about winter quarter plans. It gives TCC time to strengthen our own safety mitigation strategies, such as securing safer masks for broader distribution and reviewing our vaccination protocols. We will also continue to work on alternative plans to continue college operations in the event that there are faculty and staff shortages.
This was an agonizing decision. We are disappointed to have to move in this direction. But, our overall goal is to keep our community safe and healthy. This has been our guiding principle since March 2020, and we will not waver now. We will continue to be proactive and mindful, as we face unexpected disruptions and challenges.
With this decision, we have several new guidelines for operations, effective Tuesday, Jan. 18:
INSTRUCTION: Currently held on-campus classes and labs will continue to be in-person, and some additional classes will return to campuses. The courses and programs that will continue to be offered in-person can be found here. Students are encouraged to carefully review this document, and to be in contact with each of their faculty members.
NEW SCHEDULE UPDATES
- The Tacoma and Gig Harbor campuses will be closed to the public on Fridays, and no services will be offered to students on this day. Employees will continue to work remotely.
- Athletics will follow the guidance of NWAC.
- The Fitness Center, track and Student Center will remain closed.
- No-in person events will be held for the winter quarter.
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES
- TCC will provide student support services via in-person and remote. Click here for the schedule of in-person and online student services and contact information.
- The Early Learning Center and the Testing Center will continue their current operations.
- The Gig Harbor campus will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10am-5pm.
- Washington Corrections Center for Women and Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women will follow the WA Department of Corrections guidelines.
- All staff whose work requires them to work on campus, including Facilities, IT, Shipping/Receiving and Public Safety will continue to work on campus per their work schedules.
- We remain as flexible with staff as we can. There may be times when staff may be required to be on campus to conduct important college business. If not required to work on campus by your supervisor, staff should remain working remotely.
- Faculty will continue to teach the courses that they have already been assigned.
- Faculty can seek permission from their Dean to work alone in their individual offices.
Throughout this entire pandemic, our community has pulled together. We are asking all of us to come together again. Let’s be safe by staying home if you’re sick or symptomatic; wear a well-fitted, high quality mask (or double mask with two surgical masks – cloth masks are not effective against Omicron); and if you haven’t gotten vaccinated or boosted, and you are eligible, do so. Our next TCC vaccination clinic is on Jan. 31, from noon-3pm at the Student Center.
During this time, let’s also give grace and support to each other and our students. There may be high classroom absences with our students or productivity or response times may dip with employees who are ill or impacted by Covid-19. Let’s practice patience and empathy. It’s important for us to work together for a better, more positive impact on our community. This is a fluid situation that changes frequently, and it will be our unified strength that will help us forge ahead and respond to whatever comes next. Our goal is to ensure a safe winter quarter for what we hope to be a fuller re-opening of spring quarter.
Thank you for your continued support and resilience through this time. Let’s stay strong, Titans. We got this.
Fully Vaccinated Campus Re-Opening Plan
TCC is Safety Focused
TCC works hard to ensure we are helping to keep our students, faculty and staff are safe. We follow all required guidance on operating the TCC campus and employ these basic tactics in fighting COVID-19 transmission:
- requiring college employees to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption
- requiring college students to self-attest their vaccination or exemption status
- wearing masks
- washing hands
- name badges to show proof of self-attestation
- campus check-ins for guests and visitors
- cleaning and disinfecting
- Air filtration system has been upgraded to MERV-13
To read more, visit our Safe Start Plan.
If we have suspended operations, you will be notified through our TCC Alerts (Omnilert) system that sends out calls, emails and text messages. Now is a great time to sign up for Omnilert or check and make sure your notification settings are correct. We also post messages on Facebook and Twitter, update the website, alert the news media, update the hotline and send out emails. Please be aware of these communication channels.
Stigma Related to COVID-19
Misinformation about coronavirus can create fear and hostility that hurts people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. We’re stronger as a community when we stand together against discrimination. Discrimination based on ethnicity or ancestry will make the situation worse. Having Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness. Coronavirus doesn't recognize race, nationality nor ethnicity. Please help stop fear and discrimination by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. You can read more about this here and help fight stigma.
TCC COVID-19 Mini-Course
Self-enrolled course: https://tacomacc.instructure.com/enroll/T7E4FK
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