Column: Planning a safe return to campus

July 16, 2020

Dr. Robert Garza

When COVID-19 emerged, Palo Alto College and the Alamo Colleges District responded swiftly to transition to remote operations in order to protect the health and wellness of our students, employees and community. That same focused care is guiding our plan to resume on-campus operations.

On May 27, the entire Alamo Colleges District joined more than 660 businesses and organizations in signing onto the “Greater. SAfer. Together.” pledge, which includes the promise to wear face coverings, practice social distancing, conduct temperature checks, provide hand sanitizer, follow CDC cleaning protocols, implement contactless payment, and offer COVID-19 awareness training for employees and students.

In addition to the district-wide pledge, Palo Alto College is activating a phased plan for returning to our physical campus that is specific to the needs of our college community. This fall, we will begin a phased approach to resuming on-campus operations with a limited number of courses offered in-person. At any given time, the capacity of each building and room on campus will not exceed 25 percent.

Palo Alto College will still offer the same variety of courses, but many will still be conducted remotely. Our in-person course offerings will consist of programs that require hands-on experience for credentialing purposes, such as our Professional and Technical Education degrees and certificates.

In spring 2021, Palo Alto College plans to transition to 50 percent capacity, with the hope of being back to 100 percent by next summer. During these times of uncertainty, we will continue to embrace a spirit of flexibility, so that we are prepared to be nimble as conditions warrant for the safety of our community.

Caring for our community is of the utmost importance, as it has always been. We care by educating and empowering students for success, and we are committed to providing a safe learning environment by taking measures to cautiously resume on-campus operations.

Whether we are serving our students and community remotely or on our campus, Palo Alto College is committed to providing the same level of high-quality instruction and services to support individuals on their higher education journey. To learn more about remote learning and how you can begin the enrollment process, visit us at

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and