BC implements daily coronavirus updates

Jocelyn Sandusky, Features Editor

BC invited students to join a zoom conference call on March 9 for the first installment of daily updates on the coronavirus outbreak. BC employees Nicky Damania, Cindy Collier and Shelly Castaneda assured students and faculty on the call that BC’s Incident Command Center, which is comprised of administrators, is constantly monitoring and evaluating the situation and will act in the best interest of the campus community.

Collier, BC’s acting health center director, led the conversation and relayed important information from the Kern County Public Health Department.

As the number of coronavirus cases in California rises, Kern County continues to test patients. Now, however, Kern County can test patients locally instead of sending them out, according to Collier’s information from the Kern County Public Health Department. That means Kern County will now report on how many people test positive for the virus instead of reporting the overall number of people tested.

If a student on campus feels ill, they can see the student health and wellness center. The main campus does not offer coronavirus testing, but the health and wellness center will help students navigate the appropriate channels to get tested, according to Damania, the Office of Student Life director.

Although there are not any confirmed cases in Kern County yet, Collier is almost certain the virus will make its way into the community soon enough.

“It’s a matter of when, not if we probably will see some confirmed cases in Kern County, but I think we need to remember to stay calm,” Collier said.

BC’s Incident Command team, however, is closely following the progression of the virus the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health, CDC and KCCD Chancellor’s office. If anything changes, BC will follow the appropriate guidelines and take the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.

Since the threat to California is still considered low risk, there are no plans to cancel classes, but if the situation escalates, it may force the campus to shut down.

Administrators and faculty are looking into alternate instruction methods to make sure no loss of learning occurs, according to Damania.

If a student is ill, they should let their professor know, and the situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if time off is necessary.

In an attempt to minimize the threat, Shelly Castaneda, executive director of campus safety, suggested avoiding any non-essential travel to minimize any potential risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

Additionally, BC postponed and canceled several events on campus.

“We do want to make sure that we are engaging our students in a lively education and college experience here at Bakersfield College, but we also want to make sure that the health and welfare of our students, staff, faculty and community members are also well and taken care of,” Damania said. “These are not light decisions that we have made. These are decisions that have taken multiple people over the course of the day to make sure that we’re doing the best interest of our community.”

To get the most recent updates, they suggest going to BC’s dedicated coronavirus webpage to get timely and accurate information.