Path to Recovery Update 7/15

Path to Recovery graphic

July 15, 2020 - 01:08 PM

The Mt. SAC Path to Recovery update provides a summary of large scale efforts from the college to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, including its related economic impact.

ICE Policy on International Students Rescinded

The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have agreed to rescind the policy issued on July 6, 2020 that would have prevented international students from remaining in the country while participating in fully-online educational programs.

Mt. SAC had joined 180 other colleges in the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, which filed an amicus brief in federal district court in support of rescinding the policy. Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology had filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order to pause the enforcement of the policy. During a hearing, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs announced that a settlement was reached. The federal government will rescind any implementation of the policy and revert back to guidance provided in March, which allows students taking online courses to reside in the United States on F-1 visas.

As County Cases Increase, More Caution Required

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that the county has reached new highs, reporting the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in one day at 4,244, as well as the highest number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations with 2,103 people currently hospitalized. As a reminder, the college’s physical campus is closed except for essential business for the safety of our community. Critical onsite employees must follow the safety protocol in the college’s Social Distancing Plan. Before coming to campus, critical onsite employees must work with managers to confirm that they (1) have not traveled outside the United States in the past 14 days, (2) have not had close contact with someone who is known to have COVID-19, and (3) do not have any signs of a sickness, such as a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Even mild symptoms that appear to be allergies should stop an employee from coming to campus. Managers would then relay this information to Police and Campus Safety.

Avoiding Layoffs and Deferrals Through Budget Reductions

Mt. SAC executive leaders are calling on all employees to find ways to reduce spending and help the college navigate significant budget challenges in the coming years. In its commitment to protect permanent positions and quality education, Mt. SAC has implemented a number of strategies, including strictly limiting the use of overtime and short-term hourly positions, implementing a hiring frost, returning unspent new resource allocation funding, as well as reducing budget line items that have a history of unspent funds.

Last week, Vice President Morris Rodrigue emailed all employees an analysis of the 2020-2021 State Budget by the Chancellor’s Office. As expected, the state budget avoids major cuts to community colleges, but removes a cost of living adjustment and uses significant budget deferrals. Deferrals are similar to providing an IOU. Colleges will be able to use the promised budget, but the deferred funds will not be available until the subsequent fiscal year, creating a significant cash flow challenge. Anticipated deferrals of $40-million will comprising about 20 percent of the college’s unrestricted general fund. Budget analysts caution that the state budget takes an optimistic view of tax revenue estimates. A more well-informed budget picture will be available in late summer after state taxes are received. While Mt. SAC is well positioned with our own rainy day fund, careful spending will be a necessity to mitigate budget challenges.