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Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

The health and safety of students, faculty and staff continues to be the college’s top priority. On Friday, March 13 the Desert Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a state of emergency proclamation, which provides authority to Superintendent/President Kinnamon, or his designee, to take any and all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of education while protecting the health and safety of the students and staff at College of the Desert.

Riverside County Public Health Department issued a mandate closing all community colleges, preschools, K-12 public, private and charter schools, and universities in the county between March 16 and June 19, 2020.

All College of the Desert facilities are closed to students, faculty, staff and the community. Only essential staff are allowed on campus.

Given current health and safety restrictions, all summer session classes and all fall semester classes will be offered in remote learning/online environments. Although the campuses will remain closed, student support services will continue to be conducted in similar remote service environments.

 
 
 

What is the difference between a synchronous or asynchronous course,
and how do I know how my course will meet?

Synchronous learning

a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that occur at the same time, but not in the same place. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of televisual, digital, and online learning in which students learn from instructors, colleagues, or peers in real time, but not in person. For example, educational video conferences, interactive webinars, chat-based online discussions, and lectures that are broadcast at the same time they delivered would all be considered forms of synchronous learning.

Asynchronous learning

a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of digital and online learning in which students learn from instruction—such as prerecorded video lessons or game-based learning tasks that students complete on their own—that is not being delivered in person or in real time. Yet asynchronous learning may also encompass a wide variety of instructional interactions, including email exchanges between teachers, online discussion boards, and course-management systems that organize instructional materials and correspondence, among many other possible variations.

Required meeting days and times for all synchronous Summer Term and Fall Semester 2020 offerings are posted on WebAdvisor. Students will not be able to register for any two synchronous courses whose scheduled meeting days and times are in conflict.

Should students attend class on campus?

No, all College of the Desert campuses are closed to non-essential staff and all spring, summer and fall classes have been moved to online learning environments. 

Will classes be cancelled?

No, the College has moved all of its classroom courses online and we are continuing to identify solutions for those classes that have been “hard to convert” to remote teaching. We are also working with state licensing and other agencies to allow for increased flexibility for laboratory, clinical, and other hands-on course and program requirements.

What guidance is there for athletic and performing arts events?

All events, including athletic contests and performing arts events have been canceled.

Will any on-campus classes move online as a result of this situation?

The decision to move classes online was not made lightly. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff continues to be the College’s top priority. Instructions on how to access your classes have been sent to your MyCOD email address and/or the Canvas system. You can also stay up-to-date with the College by downloading our new mobile application.

 
 

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

From the California Department of Public Health:
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and humans. This novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a newly discovered coronavirus that has not been previously detected in animals or humans. The source of this virus is not yet known.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

From the California Department of Public Health:
Typically, human coronaviruses cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illness. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • COVID-19 can cause more severe respiratory illness

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

From the California Department of Public Health:
From the international data we have, of those who have tested positive for COVID- 19, approximately 80 percent have very mild symptoms that would not require hospitalization. For patients who are more severely ill, hospitals can provide supportive care. We are continuing to learn more about this novel coronavirus and treatment may change over time.

What is the difference between Exposure and Infection

Please note the important distinction between exposure, where an individual may have been in direct contact with someone who is infected, and infection, where an individual has been confirmed by testing to have contracted the virus. At a time of heightened concern and anxiety, it is very important that we choose our words carefully.

 
 

Do I need to wear a facemask?

Riverside County health officials are recommending residents cover their nose and mouth when leaving home for essential travel. Face coverings do not have to be hospital grade but need to cover the nose and mouth. For example, bandanas, fabric masks and neck gaiters are acceptable. Fabric covers and bandanas can be washed and used again. The rationale for covering one’s face comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics can easily filter. This not only helps to reduce the risk a well person can breathe those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness. Face covering should be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses.

If someone is showing signs of the flu, what should I do?

Anyone who is displaying flu-like symptoms should stay home and stay away from others as much as possible to avoid the potential spread of infection.

If you are displaying flu-like symptoms and believe that you may have been exposed to someone who is at a high risk for coronavirus and is displaying flu-like symptoms, then we encourage you to:

  • Contact your primary care physician (remember to call ahead and wear a mask when arriving at the health care facility)
  • Notify the Riverside County Department of Health Services at 951-358-5134
  • Call the College’s Health Center to report the condition 760-776-7211
  • Reach out to your instructor or supervisor to inform them of your absence

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Riverside County has set-up a drive-up testing site at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. The drive-up site is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (or until supplies are exhausted). Appointments are required. Coachella Valley residents can call 1-800-945-6171 to make an appointment. You must have symptoms to receive a test, which include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or congestion.

What precautionary measures is the College taking to protect students and employees?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The following are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the used tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently.

What about employees and students who have compromised immune systems? Should we offer masks to these individuals?

Anyone with a compromised immune system should follow the same protocols they would take to prevent exposure to the flu and follow up with their primary care physician. Those protocols include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

How is coronavirus spread? Can it be spread through surfaces and objects?

The coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It is thought to spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How serious is the coronavirus?

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).

Reported community spread of COVID-19 in parts of the United States raises the level of concern about the immediate threat for COVID-19 for those communities. The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, to the United States and globally.

At this time, however, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus. However, this is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.

Current risk assessment:
For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.

Is College of the Desert taking extra measures to clean and disinfect classrooms and other facilities?

All college custodial teams are following best-practice guidelines and taking extra steps to deep clean our campuses, particularly "high-touch" points such as door knobs, railings, door handles, bathroom push doors and light switches. In some areas, we are utilizing a sanitizing fogger to help with thorough disinfecting. Custodial staff are also utilizing higher-strength cleansing agents on hard surfaces.

If I don't think I've been exposed to anyone with coronavirus (COVID-19), then should I make changes to my regular routines?

People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated, though still relatively low, risk of exposure.

Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.

Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 are also at elevated risk of exposure.

Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.

The CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.

The California Department of Health Services recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses, including coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Washing hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding a cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick are all ways to reduce the risk of infection with a number of different viruses.
  • Staying away from work, school, or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.

California state and local health officials are actively working to help protect the health of Californians. California has a limited number of confirmed cases of COVID- 19 and we don't have indication of it spreading widely in our community at this time.

We have confidence in state and local health experts and will continue to follow their expert counsel and direction.

Updated May 12, 2020
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