Phase 4 Reopening Details Shared With District Board of Trustees

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

During the Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Valencia College District Board of Trustees meeting, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske and Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley informed the trustees of the College’s Roadmap for Reopening Phase 4 operations plan, which will begin on Sunday, August 1, 2021.

Our plans for all of our reopening stages, including for Phase 4, have been based on two priorities — the health and safety of our employees and students and ensuring the continuity of student learning — and have been created with feedback from employees, students and planning partner Orlando Health, and within Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Plans have used a learning-centered, science-based, phased approach.

In Phase 4, all departments, programs, facilities, locations, campuses and services will be fully operational, having adapted to new paradigms and protocols for social engagement. A full reopening of Valencia College campuses and locations will occur based on the guidance of federal, state and local agencies, as well as our ability to provide a safe and healthy environment for faculty, staff and students.

Given the most recent guidance from the CDC and Orlando Health, our current Phase 4 plans include: requiring masks, maintaining physical distancing, encouraging handwashing, cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, and continuing contact tracing; however, as CDC and Orlando Health guidance evolves, some requirements, such as masks and physical distancing, may change as well.

A team composed primarily of faculty and deans developed design principles that include guidance that the Fall 2021 term course schedule should: be built with enough capacity and flexibility not to constrain access to higher education; include enough options to allow students to make substantial progress toward their intended academic goals; generally include as many face-to-face and mixed-mode sections as possible without constraining overall capacity while considering historical student demand and student outcomes by modality; and current and changing student modality preferences.

Current physical distancing guidance requires a reduction of on-site class capacities of 30 to 50%. This planned reduction in our on-site class sizes will require the College to offer a significantly larger number of sections overall to ensure that we preserve students’ access to the classes that they need to make progress toward their intended goals.

To accommodate this need for additional course sections, Valencia has invited current part-time faculty in select discipline areas to apply to serve in a temporary, one-year, full-time visiting professor role, which will be supported by our institutional allocation of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds II (see more about these funds below). Given the uncertainty and changing nature of COVID-related guidance, this will also allow us to plan for additional capacity in spring. View the Roadmap for Reopening Phase 4 presentation. 

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds II Authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act
In December 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) was signed into law. Under CRSSAA, the United States Department of Education (ED) made available $21.2 billion to distribute to institutions of higher education to ensure learning continues for students during COVID-19 through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds II (HEERF II). Valencia College will receive $62.7 million in CRSSAA funds from the ED. In addition to the funds that will be used for student aid, a portion of each institution’s HEERF II funds can be used to cover institutional costs related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

Vice President of Business Operations and Finance Loren Bender shared that the College is planning to use the funds for additional financial aid for students, to hire visiting professors, improve air quality in buildings, upgrade information technology, redesign business processes, train faculty and staff, provide educational materials and support student technology.

The board authorized the College to disburse HEERF II institutional funds in accordance with the funds disbursement plan as presented and further authorized the College to adjust the funds disbursement plan in a compliant manner, as necessary or appropriate, in the event new regulations or official guidance is issued with respect to CRRSAA disbursements or to fulfill complete utilization of allowed funding in a compliant manner. 

Purchase of Dell Laptop Computers for Faculty, Staff and Students
Among the challenges to the College created by the pandemic is the heavy demand for laptop computers as the result of the transition to remote work and to the almost exclusive offerings of online courses. This enhanced demand has caused our current inventory of laptop computers to be deficient. To meet this demand, the board authorized the College to enter into an agreement with Dell, Inc. for the purchase of laptops for both employee and student use.

Leveraging the Dell Technology Refresh Program contract applicable to the Florida College System, Valencia College will purchase approximately 2,500 laptops for employee use and 1,200 laptops for student use from Dell, Inc. This purchase is estimated to cost $4,170,000, with funding to be provided wholly through HEERF II.

Award of IT Technical Support Contracts
Trustees authorized Valencia College to enter into technical support agreements with Campus Works, Ellucian Company, L.P. and Strata Information Group to engage the services of six contract workers from the three firms for a term of one year each with the option to renew. The contract workers will perform alongside current Valencia Information Technology staff, who will be able to leverage these additional resources to accelerate work needed to make transformational changes and support the changing learning environment at the College caused by the pandemic. The anticipated cost of these additional services will not exceed $2,000,000 and will be funded by HEERF II.

College President Transition Strategy
Vice President of Public Affairs and Marketing Jay Galbraith shared that there is extensive planning underway for Kathleen Plinske to engage a broad cross-section of community members and elected officials as she assume her new role as Valencia College president. In addition, Organizational Development and Human Resources are formulating a plan for Kathleen’s on-boarding. While Kathleen has been at Valencia since 2010 and very engaged in the community, both plans will be created as though she is brand new to ensure she receives the best possible onboarding experience and understanding of the college and community.

Approval of 2020-2021 Annual Fire Safety, Casualty, Safety and Sanitation Inspection 
The College passed the annual fire safety, casual safety and sanitation inspections for all locations. There were no deficiencies noted in any College buildings for the fifth year in a row. Inspector Walter D. Spann, Jr. of Fire Prevention Specialists shared the following in Valencia’s report:

“What a superb college and college staff to work with. These folks [Valencia College] set the gold standard for the SREF inspection. They have teams of facility and maintenance folks at the ready to correct any issue we find. This includes going to supply stores and getting the necessary material for the repair or calling in contractors, i.e., fire alarm, to fix an issue. Amazing. These folks are professional and take pride in the facilities and in what they do. Can’t say enough.”

2020-2021 Annual State Equity Report 
Assistant Vice President of Equity and Access Ryan Kane presented Valencia’s 2020-2021 Annual State Equity Report, which is submitted to the state annually. Noteworthy items include our collegewide equity work teams, individual department efforts, the establishment of students goals and future goals regarding employment. View the report here.

Amendment to the Educational Plant Survey; Osceola Campus Disposal of Property
The Educational Plant Survey is a systematic study and evaluation of existing educational facilities and aids in the determination of future educational plant needs with respect to provision of appropriate facilities for accommodating educational programs and services for students. At least every five years, each Florida college District Board of Trustees arranges for a district-wide educational plant survey to aid the formulation of plans for housing the educational program, student population, faculty, administrators, staff and auxiliary and ancillary services of the College for the following five-year period. The most recently completed survey covers the period July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2022.

Since the survey, Valencia has identified the need to dispose of the Osceola Campus portables, which have been determined to be unnecessary and unsatisfactory for educational purposes. The board authorized the College to dispose the Osceola Campus portables and approved the amendment to the 2017- 2022 Educational Plant Survey to reflect the disposal of the portables.

Faculty Association Report  
Faculty Association President Patrick Bartee brought some in the audience to tears as he spoke to the audience, a first after surviving two bouts of cancer, the last which caused him to lose his vocal cords. Faculty Association Past President Stanton Reed then took the podium.

“I’m happy that everyone can hear his voice,” Stanton shared. “Thank you Patrick for your inspiration and courage. Thank you for showing faculty, staff and students that nothing is impossible if you stay focused.”

Osceola Campus Report
As the board meeting was originally scheduled pre-pandemic to take place on the Osceola Campus, Kathleen Plinske and Melissa Pedone, interim executive dean, presented the Osceola Campus report. The report featured how the campus is building career pathways for the county’s residents through Associate in Science and Accelerated Skills Training programs that can now be completed in their entirety at the Osceola Campus or the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. Melissa and Sonia Casablanca, interim dean of career and technical programs at the Osceola Campus, reviewed two new programs, the Associate in Science in property management that launched in 2019, as well as the Associate in Science in Engineering Technology that began during the pandemic in fall 2020. View the presentation.

Legislative Update
Jay Galbraith explained that the legislative session was ending on Friday, April 30, 2021, and we are now awaiting details on the budget. A full report will be shared with the board in its Wednesday, May 26, 2021, meeting and then with the College.

Funding has been allocated in the Florida budget for Sen. Randolph Bracy to work with the College for a potential film project on the Ocoee Massacre that would be created by our School of Arts and Entertainment. More details will be shared when they become available. Prior to final approval, Sen. Bracy will work with Gov. DeSantis for his support.

Approval of 2021-2022 Academic Calendar
The board approved the 2021-22 academic calendar.

For more information on the meeting, click here. 

The next District Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. For details, view the schedule.

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