When Harris County announced its stay-at-home order, San Jacinto College had already made the social distancing switch to prioritize student and staff safety.
As COVID-19 spread worldwide, College officials not only moved to altered operations to protect the entire College community but also began transferring needed supplies to health care responders on the front lines.
While still a goal, returning to normal operations took second priority to ensuring everyone's wellbeing during the evolving pandemic.
On March 17, the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees approved a resolution allowing the College to move to altered operations during the COVID-19 situation. Altered operations began March 23, with the resolution remaining in effect until rescinded by the Board.
"We understand this is an unprecedented situation for our region, our state, and our country," Marie Flickinger, Board chair, said. "The health and safety of our students, employees, and community are most important."
Faculty, staff, and administrators worked to adjust instruction and support services, ensuring students could finish the semester strong and all College operations could continue running smoothly.
All general education courses moved online. Faculty also taught technical courses online, extending the term for necessary in-person training and testing.
College employees moved to remote work, and campuses and facilities closed to visitors except through special appointments and proper screening.
Foundation emergency fund
To address student needs, the San Jacinto College Foundation Board of Directors approved $200,000 in emergency funding.
Students who needed help to support their education could apply online for the scholarship — up to $250 per student.
"We know that circumstances have changed for many of our students, and we wanted a way to be able to help these individuals," Tom Watson, Foundation board chair, said. "We want our students to complete their certificate or degree this semester without the worry of added expenses."
Supply transfer to HCPH
Responding to the need for medical supplies and PPE for health professionals fighting COVID-19, San Jacinto College transferred a pallet of medical supplies to Harris County Public Health March 28.
Supplies included latex and nitrile gloves, surgical and N-95 masks, safety glasses, disposable wipes, gowns, hand sanitizer, and alcohol prep pads.
"As an institution that works closely with our local health care providers to train the next generation of their workforce, it is important for us to support them during this pandemic," said San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer.
Respirator loan to hospital
The College assisted Methodist Hospital Baytown by lending three respirators from its respiratory care program to fill a shortage in that location.
Dr. Rhonda Bell, Central Campus dean of health and natural sciences, coordinated the transfer to the hospital.
"Everyone in health care is acutely aware of the crisis we have within our communities and health care systems," Dr. Bell said. "The opportunity to assist our health care partners is one small bright spot in an extremely difficult time."
San Jacinto College joined with Houston Community College, the University of Houston at Sugar Land, Fort Bend County Judge's Office, TX/RX Labs, and Alief and Houston ISDs to address PPE shortages for local medical professionals and first responders.
Called H-Force, the comprehensive community partnership united members' resources, technologies, and expertise to meet Houston's growing needs during the pandemic.
San Jacinto College used its 3D printers to create 500 face shield brackets for CHI St. Luke's Health Patients Medical Center in Sugar Land and its Clear Lake affiliate.
"The health and safety of our health care workers — and that of our community — is critical now more than ever," Hellyer said. "We are all willing to do our part to help through this H-Force initiative."
Learn more about the College's health safety procedures at sanjac.edu/support/health-support/communicable-diseases.