Amid omicron surge, SDCCD officials announce delayed return to in-person instruction

Students can expect a phased-in return to campus beginning Feb. 22, with a full return by March 7


San Diego City College President Ricky Shabazz called December’s Fall Fest a trial run for events to come in the spring semester, but a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant has delayed the return to on-site activities. Photo by Jakob McWhinney/City Times Media

Jakob McWhinney

Twelve days before the start of the spring 2022 semester, San Diego Community College District officials updated their already delayed return to full on-campus instruction due to a spike in regional COVID-19 infection numbers. 

In the update posted to the district’s news center webpage, officials outlined the new timeline, which includes an extension of remote work assignments until Feb. 18 and a phased-in return to onsite activities beginning Feb. 22.

Some classes scheduled to be taught in-person will begin the semester remotely.

“The colleges will be delaying the start of in-person instruction in courses which can be effectively delivered online until the week of February 22. Specific information on individual courses will be provided locally at each college,” the district wrote in the statement. 

Officials added that many classes originally scheduled to take place in-person had already been converted to remote courses as student enrollment for spring heavily favored online instruction.

Starting Feb. 22, SDCCD employees are scheduled to return to in-person work three days a week, with a full return to on-site activities slated for March 7.

Employees unable to work from home will continue to be expected to work on-site while following strict masking and social distancing guidelines.

SDCCD’s decision to push back the beginning of in-person instruction comes after a number of colleges in the area have made similar decisions, including UCSD in mid-December and SDSU in early January

The district did write there is reason to be optimistic this will be the final delay in the return-to-campus timeline for the spring 2022 semester.

The surge in COVID-19 cases regionally, driven by the much more virulent omicron strain, seems to have reached its peak and begun to decline.

Data released by San Diego County showed positive case numbers began to fall late last week after setting three record highs within 10 days and peaking at over 19,000 on Jan. 7.

Chris Longhurst, chief medical officer of UC San Diego Health, tweeted on Jan. 17 that positivity rates from COVID-19 tests administered by UCSD Health also continued to fall.

“We may be over the hump, but remember that while rates are (down), risk is still (up) and thousands will be infected on the downhill slope,” Longhurst warned in the tweet.