Monthly Archives: December 2020

2020 in Review: Corona-what? A New Virus on the Horizon

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Oh, 2020. We had such high hopes for our new decade. And then just after we put away our New Year’s hats and noisemakers, we learned that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was closely monitoring an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

On Monday, January 27, 2020, we shared that the CDC considered this a low health risk to the American public, and there were no reported cases of the virus in Florida. Little did we know what the future held.

This was also the first time we shared the CDC recommendation to frequently wash hands and to see a healthcare professional if experiencing a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing and coronavirus exposure. Now most of us can say this in our sleep.

By Tuesday, February 18, 2020, this virus had an official name — COVID-19 — and we alerted employees of a travel ban, effective Sunday, February 2, 2020, to suspend entry of non-United States citizens — who recently traveled from the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau — to the United States. Additionally, a 14-day quarantine was imposed on United States citizens returning from the People’s Republic of China.

On Tuesday, March 3, 2020, as we all looked forward to the following week’s Spring Break, the College launched a website to provide COVID-19 updates, Monitoring the Coronavirus. Additionally, we shared — following the guidance from Governor Ron DeSantis and State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida College System — that employees or students who traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Iran or Italy self-isolate and not return to campus for 14 days upon return from their trip.

And then during our Spring Break, the virus began to spread rapidly in the United States, in Florida and the Orlando area, resulting in closures, mask mandates and recommendations to social distance, all ending in a closure of our campuses.  Fortunately, several COVID-19 vaccine trials from multiple companies are taking place with promising results, and one has received Food and Drug Administration approval.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

2020 in Review: Campuses Close Due to COVID-19

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

We departed campus for Spring Break with happy thoughts of sun, fun and relaxation. However, for many, especially our leadership team, Spring Break was far from relaxing due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, just part-way through the break, College President Sandy Shugart sent an urgent message to employees sharing that we’d begin transitioning instruction to alternative modalities to reduce face-to-face interaction. Our move to online learning, although temporary at the time, had officially begun.

In the days to follow, as new information from local, state and federal leaders evolved, communications persevered rapidly.

By Saturday, March 14, 2020, right before employees planned to return from Spring Break, Dr. Shugart sent another urgent message announcing that all Valencia College locations would remain closed following Spring Break. Then on Sunday, March 22, 2020, he announced that we would remain primarily a remote team through at least the end of the Spring 2020 term. We could not have anticipated at that time that our campuses would continue to be mostly closed through the end of the Spring 2021 term.

Transitioning to an online environment brought, not only days of sweatpants, structuring workdays with children at home and Zoom calls, but also new resources for quickly transitioning to online teaching, as well as best practices for working remotely and supervising in a remote setting.

We introduced two new grade optionsloaner laptops for students and the new course modality, “Real-time Virtual” (RTV). We moved our support services to an online environment including the Answer Centeradvisingtutoring and tech support.

And we launched a series of calling campaigns to calm and encourage students who may have felt anxiety moving from in-person or mixed-mode to online classes; help students enroll in fall 2020 courses; and assist them with registration for the spring 2020 term.

We also planned our strategy for reopening our campuses.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

2020 in Review: A Roadmap for Reopening

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

As we continued to prioritize the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students and preserve the continuity of learning, Valencia College planned a phased approach to reopening — the Roadmap for Reopening — following best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health agencies, and our planning partner, Orlando Health.

A small work group called the “Conditions to Reopen” team, with feedback from nearly 500 Valencia College colleagues, created a Roadmap for Reopening plan that identified four phases of a gradual return to on-campus operationsFour interdisciplinary task forces were formed to develop detailed plans for preparing our facilities, our workforce, our workplace and our learning environment.

All details of the reopening process were shared on a new Roadmap for Reopening website.

We moved to Phase 2 of our reopening for the Fall 2020 term with the majority of our courses in an online modality, reserving face-to-face and mixed-mode sections for courses that were unable to be offered online.

Leading up to the fall semester, we rolled out a series of communications on topics such as cleaning and sanitizationpreparing the learning environmentpreparing our facilities and the workplace, preparing the workforce and illness reporting and contact tracing, which introduced Valencia College’s COVID-19 case manager and a daily health assessment.

While Valencia College planned our campus closures and reopening strategy, we received $29.3 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act — $27.6 million authorized through Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act and an additional $1.7 million through Section 18004(a)(2) of the CARES Act). More than $18.5 million of the funding received provided financial support to 24,169 eligible students who incurred expenses due to the disruption of campus operations caused by the coronavirus. The second half of the funding was designated for “institutional stabilization,” covering costs of converting to online in the Spring 2020 term and beyond, lost revenue and technology enhancements. We also awarded nearly $935,000 in Valencia Support Fund grants made available by the Valencia Foundation to 1,739 students who were ineligible under the federal guidelines for CARES Act Emergency Grants.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Readers’ Choice: Top Viewed Articles in 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A Message from Organizational Communication

While we can’t say that 2020 has been a great year, when we take a look at our 10 most popular articles from the past year (as determined by total pageviews), there are some happy times that were your favorites. For example, you viewed our Academic Assembly and Fall Welcome Back post more than 9,400 times and our Learning Day post more than 9,000 times.

Here’s a quick look at your favorite articles:

    1. Save the Dates: 2020 Academic Assembly and Fall Welcome Back Events – 9,428 pageviews
    2. Register for Learning Day 2020 – 9,033 pageviews
    3. Second Credential Will Be Required to Connect to Office 365 to Prevent Phishing Attacks – 7,447 pageviews
    4. Valencia College’s Roadmap for Reopening – 5,897 pageviews
    5. Get Ready to Zoom – 5,634 pageviews
    6. Learn About Your 2021 Total Rewards During the Benefits Tour – 4,359 pageviews
    7. In Memory of Raquel Morales – 3,758 pageviews
    8. Save the Date: Spring Semester Roadmap for Reopening Town Halls – 3,536 pageviews
    9. Roadmap for Reopening: Illness Reporting and Contact Tracing – 3,423 pageviews
    10. Additional Options for Paid Leave During COVID-19 – 3,441 pageviews

We hope you’ve enjoyed following along via your employee newsletters and The Grove and you’ve felt informed as we navigated through some difficult times. As always, we thank you for your readership and engagement, and we look forward to experiencing the new year together.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Valencians Share Photos to Bring Joy During Trying Times

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

This year, you showed us that, despite the pandemic, you could find joy in simple things. Thank you for sharing your work-from-home photos and showing us what work looked like for you this fall term, as well as how you were doing your part to keep Orlando and Valencia safe.

You also shared your favorite animal friends during National Pet Month, your summer at home and your Halloween décor and costumes. And, you told us what you were thankful for in this Thanksgiving video.

Additionally, during our brief time on campus this year, you showed your excitement for Learning Day.

Thank you, Valencia family, for sharing your experiences and staying positive and strong during a challenging year.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

My Best Wishes for a Restful Winter Break

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

As the winter break approaches, I want to extend my sincere thanks for all of your efforts to support our students and colleagues this fall. You have made a significant difference in our students’ lives during this difficult time.

Note that the break begins on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, for faculty, and the College closes on Wednesday, December 23, 2020. However, to continue to support students during the break, our Student Affairs team will keep the Virtual Answer Center and Virtual Advising Center open Monday, December 28 through Thursday, December 31, 2020, and Saturday, January 2, 2021, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

All services will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2021, mostly in a virtual way, with classes beginning on Monday, January 11, 2021.

As 2020 draws to a close, I encourage each of us to engage in some much needed self-care and to find time during the break for those activities that bring us joy. Please also remember that our Employee Assistance Program remains available to you 24/7, even when the College is closed. Please stay safe, healthy and well — I look forward to the new year with you!

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Osceola Counselors Present at Siemens Conference

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, Alina Siddiqui and Natali Shulterbrondt, counselors at Osceola Campus, presented at the Siemens Global Mobility Management Virtual Conference 2020. The topic of the session was “Building a Community of Care: Understanding the Five Signs of Distress,” which was adapted from Natali’s tenure project on the Five Signs of Emotional Distress.

The participants in the session were Siemens employees from various countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia. During their session, Alina and Natali focused on managing stress, especially as it relates to the pandemic and working from home, with an emphasis on creating a personal self-care plan.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Thursday, December 10, 2020

By Kevin Brunelle, Director, Security

The Valencia College Safety and Security department wishes everyone a safe and secure holiday season.

This is a very special time of year for many. It’s a time for family, friends and festivities. However, it’s also a time when busy people forget to be cautious about their personal safety and property. As a result, people can become victims of burglaries, thefts, frauds and con-games, and criminals thrive on unsuspecting and innocent victims.

Don’t make it easy for the thieves! Lock it or lose it! And use these crime prevention tips from the Valencia College Safety and Security team for remaining safe and secure from holiday crime:

Protecting Yourself and Your Valuables 

  • Give your home an occupied appearance by leaving various lights on or placing them on a timer. You can also now add smart systems to many phone applications and control remotely.
  • Don’t carry your keys in your purse. Carry them in your pocket or hand.
  • Always lock your car, and never leave the keys in the car even if you’re only going to be gone a few seconds.
  • Let a trusted neighbor know if you’re going to be gone for longer periods. Many police departments will add your residence on an extra-watch if contacted.
  • Don’t use short cuts through alleys or walkways. Always take well-lit and traveled areas. If possible, walk in pairs or groups.
  • Always keep one hand free for potential emergencies. Have a whistle or car alarm ready to activate. Predators usually take flight once attention is drawn to a situation.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Scan the area around parked vehicles and while walking to and from stores and your home.
  • Shop with friends or relatives.
  • If you must take a purse, carry it cross body, close to your person with the clasp nearest you.
  • Cash should be carried in your pants’ front pocket. Do not display large sums of cash.
  • Never leave your purse in a shopping cart or upon a counter unattended while you shop.
  • When returning to your auto or home, have your keys in your hand ready and scan the area.
  • Transfer valuables to the trunk of your auto before you reach your destination.
  • Use the panic or alarm button on your key chain if you feel fearful or suspicious.
  • Never leave valuables in plain view in your automobile.
  • Be alert for suspicious persons loitering in parking lots. Report them and don’t proceed. Change your course of action. If you see someone loitering, ask for a security escort to your car.
  • Lock your doors immediately upon entering your vehicle and always drive with your doors locked.

Protecting Against Fraud

  • Never give your personal information over the phone unless you are initiating the purchase.
  • Cover key pads when entering pin numbers at bank ATM’s or points of sale stations.
  • Never deposit a check or give money with a promise to receive money in return.
  • Never provide your credit card information over the phone unless you place the order.
  • Only use secure Wi-Fi networks.
  • Be aware of people around you when entering passwords.
  • Never pay for work in advance.
  • Keep your devices clean by making sure your internet-connected devices are free from malware and infections by running the most current versions of software and applications.
  • Avoid making purchases via public Wi-Fi.
  • Create unique password/passphrases for all accounts and use multifactor authentication wherever possible.
  • Beware of fraudulent e-commerce sites and never click on a link. It’s recommended that you go directly to the actual internet site.
  • Use credit cards for online shopping purchases rather than a bank card.

Safety touches all aspects of our lives. We encourage you to use of these crime prevention methods and safety techniques in a spirit of cooperation between the Valencia College Safety and Security team and the students, faculty, staff and visitors we serve.

If you have any questions, contact the Safety and Security management team. They collectively have over a hundred years of experience combatting crime. No one should ever be victimized.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Charles Davis Appointed to National Society of Black Engineers Process Improvement Special Interest Group Board of Directors

Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses

Congratulations to Charles Davis Jr., part-time faculty, math, for being named to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Process Improvement Special Interest Group Board of Directors for 2020-2021. Charles is an engineer who also teaches engineering and previously served as the West Campus program advisor for the Bachelor of Science degree program in computer and electrical engineering technology (BSECET).

The mission of the NSBE Process Improvement Special Interest Group is to establish and build NSBE’s corporate presence as a player within the process improvement consulting industry, grow the network in the process improvement community and serve as a process improvement consulting arm for NSBE. The Special Interest Group (SIG) is focused on developing its members to become subject matter experts within the umbrella of process improvement.

For one year — which may be extended — Charles’ role is to strengthen and integrate expertise and advocacy efforts related to process improvement and the connections to equitable development, education and access to the latest tools and techniques. He’ll also support efforts to increase coordination and communication among process improvement organizations to foster partnerships to benefit the membership. Charles will work closely with the leadership team to define and implement process improvement content for the SIG and prioritize campaigns. He’ll also produce an official transition report at the close of the term of office.

Charles, who has been a member of NSBE for 30 years, is excited to be able to work with talented engineers who have common goals and NSBE’s mission — to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community. Charles has also been advising the Valencia College NSBE chapter for approximately eight years.

“NSBE envisions a world in which engineering is a mainstream word in homes and communities of color, and all Black students can envision themselves as engineers,” Charles explained. “In this world, Blacks exceed parity in entering engineering fields, earning degrees and succeeding professionally.”

Additionally, the NSBE Process Improvement SIG Board of Directors has big plans for Charles. He has accepted a new role as its technical director for the 2021-2022 year.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Exploring Work and Play, Rose Casterline’s Work Exhibited at Tallahassee Community College

Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses

Rose Casterline, professor, art, recently exhibited her work at Tallahassee Community College (TCC).

“These 34 paintings together in one space document an eight-year evolution of my art and a preoccupation with the concept of work and play,” said Rose.

“This was a good opportunity for me to gather my paintings from galleries in Hilton Head, New Orleans and New Smyrna Beach,” she shared. “One week I traveled retrieving my work, and the following week I delivered the art — a nice break from working at home.”

The exhibit, which ran from Thursday, October 8 through Thursday, December 3, 2020, featured large pieces, combining drawing with painting, and showed samples from three separate series previously created by Rose, some of which were previously exhibited in Valencia’s very own Anita S. Wooten Gallery.

“Personal Space” is a series of figures within a confined space that seem to “push and pull, tumble, roll, slump and rest,” according to materials produced by TCC’s gallery. Body language and costume assist the viewer in discovering meaning or in creating a story. An interesting aspect of the series is that the pieces can be hung in any direction to alter the meaning and heighten the dynamic quality of the work.

The “Lazy River” series seems to suggest a whimsical, relaxing experience (leisure) but serves as a metaphor for blurred boundaries between work and play, an evolving body of work, and shows dueling concepts: safety/recklessness, leisure/frenzy, decorum/vulgarity.

The third series, “The Glass Ceiling” opens up a myriad of possibilities for the patron to explore, Why the child? Has the glass ceiling not yet been breached? Does the reappearing hole in the ceiling express confidence? The more we look the more we see.

To view a virtual guided tour of Rose’s work created by TCC gallery curator Barbara Cohenour, watch the video below: