When the alarm was rung about the coronavirus spreading throughout the United States back in late February, College of the Canyons trustee Edel Alonso sent an email to board President Michele Jenkins. She included an article that the California Teachers Association had issued, which announced that state officials found this virus a matter of serious public health concern. A list of guidelines for schools and school districts was also attached. Edel requested that an information agenda item be placed on the agenda for the next board meeting to discuss the college’s plans for dealing with this deadly new virus.
Instead of receiving information about potential protocols, Alonso was strongly rebuffed. The emailed response from Jenkins indicated that a majority must agree on an item’s placement “…to prevent staff from being burdened with gathering information desired by a minority of the board.” She recommended, when the responsible staff member has “spare” time, they prepare a brief written, bulleted explanation of whatever plans are in place. Jenkins concluded, “Given the very small numbers of individuals who are infected and perish or even develop symptoms, the reactions to this issue have been, in general, unnecessarily alarmist.”
Deeply concerned that the board was not considering necessary steps to keep students and staff protected, at the following board meeting, Edel, in a bold move, removed herself from the dais, approached the microphone used for public comments, and repeated her question so it became part of the public record. She would not be silenced when it came to student safety. By the following board meeting, a set of protocols were in place.
Edel Alonso champions the safety of students. She displays continuously the foresight and leadership needed for one to sit on COC’s board of trustees. Vote Alonso on Nov. 3.