COC board expands chancellor’s authority to address coronavirus

College of the Canyons
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COC’s governing board declared emergency conditions throughout the Santa Clarita Community College District and granted Chancellor Dianne Van Hook emergency authority to address the growing coronavirus pandemic, during a special meeting Thursday.

The College of the Canyons board of trustees met to discuss the rapid developments necessary for the college’s response to the crisis, according to a statement from the college.

“I am appreciative and proud of the work our faculty, staff and administrators have done to care for our students and preserve their ability to complete their classes,” Van Hook wrote in a statement, “and achieve their goals in these ever-changing and uncertain times.”

The board reviewed the steps taken so far, which included stopping all in-person classes from meeting and closing college offices to the public and students, with plans to move instruction and services online by Monday.  

Van Hook has the authority to take any and all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of public education, and protect the health and safety of the students and staff. In addition, she’s now authorized to call for the immediate closure of all district sites in response to future county, state, or federal orders deemed necessary to stop further spread of coronavirus, according to the college’s statement.

Any actions taken by the chancellor in accordance with the board’s resolution will not be subject to ratification by the board except where legally required.

“Granting Chancellor Dr. Van Hook emergency authority is imperative to effectively addressing this rapidly changing situation, which requires timely and decisive action in order to reflect the district’s commitment to protect the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff,” wrote board President Michele Jenkins in a statement released by the college.

The board also determined that the district can enter into any contract necessary (subject to California Public Contract Code section 20654), without advertising or inviting bids, and without prior board approval, in order to respond to the district’s emergency needs.

The board also discussed the following changes that will remain in effect until rescinded by majority vote:

— In observance of social distancing standards recommended by public health officials, members of the board of trustees and community members participated remotely via Zoom videoconferencing.

— Members of the public wishing to comment on an agenda item or another topic within the jurisdiction of the board of trustees were given the opportunity to ask questions via Zoom.

— On March 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-25-20, which authorizes local bodies to hold public meetings via teleconference and waives some of the requirements of the Brown Act.— As part of its emergency operations plan, COC will continue to provide regular updates to the public and college employees about its response to the coronavirus online.

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