Desert Community College District
Board of Trustees Meeting
CODAA Report

Mister Chair, Madam Superintendent/President, Members of the Board and College Community,

Mindful of President Garcia’s invitation for suggestions on how to help enrollment, CODAA wants to call attention to Rio Hondo College in eastern LA county, which this spring actually ended its enrollment decline.   How did they do it?  First, Rio Hondo hired more adjuncts to coach students through the financial aid application process, resulting in a 5% increase in applications.  Secondly, they adopted a program of fee forgiveness for student campus debt, such as unpaid tuition.  More than 4,000 students took advantage of this offer and registered for classes, stabilizing Rio Hondo’s enrollment and actually giving their FTES a slight boost.

CODAA extends our support to Dean Doug Benoit, who has recently been battling Covid-19, and we wish him a successful recovery.  We also offer our best wishes to others in our campus community suffering from Covid, including the husband of one of our school’s administrative assistants, the wife of one of CODAA’s executive board members, who has been hospitalized with Covid three times in the past month, and also the many students unable to complete their semester courses due to Covid-19.

What is our local Covid situation right now?  According to the City of Palm Springs, the presence of the Covid virus in our wastewater is twenty times higher today, than it was this time last year.  Moreover, a year ago at Eisenhower Health the percentage of patients testing positive for Covid-19 was about 3%.  This week, that number is 23.4%.  Medical researchers report the waning effectiveness of vaccinations and boosters, and the ability of the latest variants to work around the vaccine and infect people anyway, multiple times.   As COD has removed its mask mandate (while UCLA and CSU Los Angeles have reinstated theirs), students and employees are left on their own to try to avoid the virus.  What can be done to help?

First, we suggest the college post graphics in every enclosed space making clear the possible long-term effects of contracting Covid-19.  Here’s one published by the CDC.

You can see in the illustration that, unlike a cold or the flu, Covid-19 attacks every system in the human body, with effects that can persist long after “recovery”.  This is known as long Covid.  DSPS reported at the last CPC meeting that an increasing number of students have requested accommodation due to long Covid.   Long Covid strikes at the very heart of our mission as educators, because even with accommodation students with long Covid struggle to learn, and faculty with long Covid struggle to keep teaching.

Students wishing to avoid long Covid know the effectiveness of well-fitting N-95 masks, but some may not know where to get them, and many might not be able to afford them.  CODAA suggests the college provide well-fitting N-95 or equivalent masks in every classroom and enclosed space.

The best way to avoid long Covid is not to catch Covid at all.  Posting informative graphics, and providing masks in indoor spaces for everyone, are effective, efficient prevention measures that demonstrate commitment to safety and inclusion, as we all work together to advance diversity, equity, parity, and the success of our students.

Submitted respectfully,

Dr. Catherine Levitt, President of CODAA