District discuss possible closure of campus

Thomas Anthony, Staff Reporter

The Foothill-De Anza board of trustees sought to calm anxiety about the growing spread of the novel coronavirus in the area on March 9.

Addressing fears of students worried about contracting COVID-19, Chancellor Judy Miner said that district staff worked over the weekend to plan for possible scenarios. 

“We are very much on top of this, I believe, as much as any group can be,” she said.

Miner acknowledged that other schools and institutions were going through various levels of closure, and didn’t rule out the possibility of the district following suit.

“We really have had a lot of activity around planning for possible closures, or disruption in our instruction and services,” she said. “We will continue to stay very closely in-tuned with the recommendations from the CDC and the Santa Clara County Department of Health.”

As part of the plan to deal with the effects of the virus, Miner said the district was convening “an emergency response team, so that as things change, we do have the individuals responsible for various areas and they will all be designated as essential personnel should we have to close and still provide some continuity of services.”

One longer-term worry for the school district is the effect that anxiety and uncertainty about the virus may have on enrollment, especially from non-residents.

Vice Chancellor of Business Services Susan Cheu said that as of Dec. 31, resident enrollment numbers were down between 1 to 2 %, but non-resident enrollment numbers were down considerably more.

“This was prior to the coronavirus impact, so we’re really watching that very closely right now, trying to see what’s going to happen in that particular area,” Cheu said. “The non-resident enrollment income is about $26 million for us, so it’s of significance and something we want to make sure we plan and anticipate for.”

During the meeting, Miner gave a very brief update on the plans for the De Anza Event Center, saying requests had been issued to a number of architectural firms for submission of conceptual designs. She said those submissions would likely arrive before the end of spring quarter.

A planned discussion of student minimum wages was delayed until the board’s next regular meeting, scheduled for April 6.