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Opinion | PCC Superintendent/President Dr. Erika Endrijonas: Surveying the COVID-19 Landscape

Published on Thursday, February 3, 2022 | 8:42 am

Next month marks the two-year anniversary of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I think through the steps we’ve taken at Pasadena City College over the past 20-plus months to deal with this disease and its effects, I feel a little like a gardener who takes a pause from tending one corner of her flowerbed and steps back, takes a deep breath, and sees the entirety of the landscape in front of her eyes.

It is quite a sight to behold.

In fact, it was just yesterday that members of my executive team had their latest check-in with the Pasadena Public Health Department. Throughout this process, we have been grateful for our partnership with Dr. Ying-Ying Goh and her team of stellar professionals. They have been outstanding resources, sounding boards, consultants, and compatriots for the COVID-19 team at PCC. We were pleased to hear Dr. Goh’s support for the steps we are taking. We have gone above and beyond what has been required of us, and it is very rewarding to be recognized for our efforts by the professionals.

So how did we get to this point of going beyond the expectations of our public health colleagues in this midst of this pandemic? At PCC, our COVID-19 response has become the full-time job of a few people, and a part-time responsibility for everyone. Our efforts began with our custodians, groundskeepers, maintenance staff, and campus police officers, many of whom never stopped coming to campus and instead poured themselves into the task of keeping our facilities and our personnel healthy and safe. For their service throughout this pandemic, we will long be in their debt.

Our first priority was to improve our physical plant to support a return to on-campus operations. Over the first year of COVID-19, we cleaned our campus from top to bottom, upgraded every ventilation system in every building, installed air filtration systems in all classrooms and offices, and established enhanced cleaning protocols that we have only made stronger. We also installed thousands of square feet of plexiglass in offices throughout the campus as an extra measure of protection.

These physical improvements gave us a strong foundation to bring our students, faculty, and employees to a clean, healthy working and learning environment.

Next, we focused on our people. As public health requirements were developed, we integrated and built upon them wherever we could. We scanned temperatures and distributed wristbands in order to ensure that everyone on campus was fever-free. We implemented a daily symptom survey to help people remember to stay home if they were sick. We were one of the first higher education institutions in Southern California to require vaccinations, with limited exemptions, of our faculty, students, and staff. And if members of our community got sick, we provided them with the time they needed to care for themselves and their families.

This spring, we have added weekly COVID-19 testing to the mix, expanding a monthly program we started in August 2020. After a brief pause in on-campus instruction to shelter from the worst of the omicron variant, our students, faculty, and staff returned to PCC on Jan. 24. Every person who came to campus was required to have a recent negative test result before coming to class or starting work.

This week, with that baseline test behind us, we have moved to a period of surveillance testing, in which every student and employee will take a weekly test. These community tests give us valuable information about any spread of the disease and the tools to contain the effects. At the same time, we are providing an incredibly valuable service to our students and employees, making free, regular COVID-19 testing available at a time when it is exceedingly difficult to get tested.

Our results speak for themselves. From Jan. 17 through Jan. 30, the latest date that results are available, we tested 8,341 students and employees and found positive results in 149 tests. That positivity rate of 1.8 percent, when compared to LA County’s rate of 12.5 percent, is very encouraging.

Another figure worth sharing: PCC has verified the vaccination status of 21,332 of our students and employees. These data are available for the public to view on our COVID-19 information website,

The future is impossible to predict, and we know that our landscape will continue to shift. But at PCC, we are tending our garden carefully, doing everything we can to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff.

Erika Endrijonas, Ph.D., was named the 16th president of Pasadena City College in January 2019.

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7 thoughts on “Opinion | PCC Superintendent/President Dr. Erika Endrijonas: Surveying the COVID-19 Landscape

  • Please address the fact that PPHD came to PCC because of widespread concern that hundreds of covid rapid tests were administered incorrectly. Making a public statement about safety without addressing this issue is an insult to your staff and student body. I was a tested incorrectly twice, testing staff wet the swab with reagent before probing my nose. This would create false negatives and also I had chemicals in my nose that were not meant to come in contact with skin or be inhaled. As a patient I have yet to receive any follow up information about the faulty test. Many staff members have demanded transparency about the botched testing and instead we have been ignored. This is the wrong approach during a pandemic.

  • This article by the PCC President is an attempt to rewrite the recent troubling history of what’s been happening at PCC. In reality, many students and faculty don’t feel safe to return to campus now, before the death rate has peaked for LA County and with ICUs at or near capacity. 2500 students have signed a petition to be allowed to continue learning remotely. Several protests have been held. Some faculty are choosing not to comply with the order to return to campus; they are instead continuing to safely offer classes remotely on Zoom. The president is promising to punish those faculty members with fifteen days suspension without pay. There is discussion of a vote of no confidence for President Endrijonas. You would not know any of this by reading the above viewpoint of the President. If you would like to hear the other side of this, I would be happy to write an article.

  • The disconnect between the administration toward students and faculty is so evident with this political puff piece.

  • This article is nothing but an attempt to hide what is really going on in the college. Ask students, staff and faculty. Irresponsible and heartless practices by the administration!

  • This revisionist history does not tell the full story. Certainly, this has been a challenging time for PCC. But leadership really failed by not listening to the concerns of faculty and students who are on the ground. We have a right to work and learn in a safe environment. Instead, faculty were forced to return prematurely and people got sick. Safety protocols were violated and went uncorrected. There were delays in contact tracing notifications. Faculty workload increased without compensation due to having to deliver course material to both students who were in the classroom and those who remained online. These positive cases reported are low probably because you had so many faculty members and students refuse to return on the 24th as cases of Omicron were still so high. And that student enrollment is so low while students dropped classes when they learned they were forced to return to campus. The request was reasonable: delay the return until mid-February or allow faculty to offer a hybrid or remote option. Concerns were ignored.

  • Haha, this is her “Mission Accomplished” moment.

    How in the world does PCC end up with such inept leadership?

    PCC is an embarrassment to the community because of horrible presidents.

  • I hope that people read the below published responses to this opinion piece, as they are written by faculty currently dealing with the irresponsible and callous decisions of this administration. It is terribly disturbing that the president of the college cannot seem to see the disconnect.





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