More than 240 participants joined in on Bakersfield College President’s all-campus forum with political and community leaders, as panelists, on April 6 to update BC faculty and students on COVID-19 and its impact on the community.
Panel speakers included California State Assembly Vince Fong, Retired California State Senator Jean Fuller, CEO of Kern Economic Development Corporation Richard Chapman, Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government Romeo Agbalog.
BC president, Sonya Christian started the discussion with an update of COVID-19 cases using statistics from John Hopkins University. She informed everyone that compared to last week, the projected peak of cases has been pushed back rather than forward which is a good sign.
“My message to you … is stay at home, stay at home, [and] stay at home,” Christian said.
She also updated everyone on how BC is ahead of the curve and introduced the Back to College program, which every panelist agreed was a major step for BC to be ahead of the curve.
The Back to College program is meant to help those who lost their job to COVID-19, prepare them with new skills to help them compete in the now difficult work world.
“Unemployment has risen from 5,000 applications a month to 88,000 a day in the state of California,” Fong said. Chapman explained that even though the economy has been hit hard, Kern is still on its feet growing its entrepreneurship.
He gave the example of Kern working together to build each other up.
“Collaboration is key, because we [the community of Kern] will have to do a lot more with a lot less,” Agbalog said.
The panelists expressed that BC has been collaborating and working with others to help make a positive impact in the community with the Back to College program and BC pressuring California to put nursing students into the workforce to help lighten the load of medical staffs.
Fong explained that California has encouraged those who are currently studying in the medical field and those who have previously worked in the medical field sign up to help fight the pandemic.
Fong, along with others in the state, are working to get more protective equipment, beds, and help to bend the curve of spreading the virus.
A main focus of his is education.
“COVID-19 pandemic is the worst crisis I’ve been through and the longest schools have closed,” Fuller said. Fong is working to help develop hotspots and internet connections to those who do not have access to the internet.
Fong thanked BC in being ahead of the curve and started online distance learning ahead of other districts in the state of California.
Every panelist thanked BC for being a leader in fighting the pandemic, by being steps ahead and taking precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of staff and students.