STOCKTON — San Joaquin Delta Community College has become the latest educational institution to cease face-to-face instruction due to coronavirus concerns.
Dr. Omid Pourzanjani, Delta’s superintendent, announced on the college’s website Tuesday evening that its campuses would be closed effective March 18, and will reopen on April 6.
The decision to close campus follows similar actions taken by school districts across the county, as well as by universities and state colleges across California.
“As you may know, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors met (Tuesday) morning to discuss local responses to the coronavirus situation,” Pourzanjani said in his statement.
“After listening to a group of experts, including the County Public Health officials, they decided that the current situation, at this moment in time, does not necessitate a county-wide shut-down,” he added. “However, here at Delta, we want to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect the well-being of our employees and students.”
The college had reported one of its students believed they may have been exposed to coronavirus in early March, prompting extra sanitization of highly-traveled areas of the Stockton campus.
Days afterward, the school announced it would be moving many of its classes online during the uncertainty of how rapidly the virus might spread.
Alex Brietler, spokesman for the college, said that student was on campus for one day before implementing self-isolation on March 1. Since that day, Breitler said the student had not shown any symptoms of coronavirus.
There still have been no confirmed cases of the virus at the college as of Tuesday, he said.
“We closed out of an abundance of caution,” he said. “We still have no confirmed cases, but we felt it was best to move classes online and reduce the campus population to essential personnel only.”
Essential personnel includes the college police department, maintenance, groundskeeping, custodians and information technology employees, he said.
In Pourzanjani’s online announcement, he said all instruction, including labs, would be moved online.
All district-funded travel has been canceled, and all campus-sponsored events and large gatherings will be canceled or offered through alternative meeting methods such as telephone or video conferencing.
The college will also purchase a large number of laptops students can check-out that do not have one, he said.
Employees are allowed to visit their offices or classrooms, but they are being discouraged from returning to campus during the closure. Those who do need to go to campus are being asked to maintain social distancing guidelines.
Breitler added that students who need to purchase books for their classes will be able to order them online through the Delta College bookstore.
Delta student Aaron Salindo, 22, said he had just returned to school after taking a few years off to figure out what career he wanted to pursue. Half of his courses were already online, but now to have all of them online will be an adjustment.
“As far as how I feel about (the closure), it’s been kind of strange,” he said. “I wanted to go back to school because I didn’t want to sit at home doing nothing. This is my second semester back and now I’m going to be sitting at home again.”
Of course now, he will be sitting at home taking online courses, he said. However, he said he had been very excited about the in-person labs he had been attending.
“As far as being able to do school work, I think I’ll be fine, because I’m able to get online,” he said. “I’m going to miss my physical face-to-face classes, but I understand why (the school) is doing this.”
Pourzanjani said many students and staff may feel anxiety because of the pandemic, and the school is offering resources to help cope with tier fears at deltacollege.edu/student-life/health-and-wellness/health-wellness-resources.
District police will be available around the clock as well, he said, and will close and secure the campus between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., he said. Those who plan to visit the campus during those hours are asked to contact police dispatch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-954-5000.