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Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

The health and safety of students, faculty and staff continue to be the College’s top priority. Given current health and safety restrictions, all Spring semester classes are being offered predominantly online. Student support services will continue to be offered in a remote service environment.

Programs that have external agency and legal mandates that require face-to-face instruction have been prioritized for hybrid learning. These classes are following all College, County and State guidelines for in-person learning.

College of the Desert facilities are generally closed to students, faculty, staff and the community. Only essential faculty/staff and students attending a hybrid course are allowed on campus.

Will Classes be canceled?

No, the College has moved all of its classroom courses online. Programs that have external agency and legal mandates that require face-to-face instruction have been prioritized for hybrid learning. These classes are following all College, County and State guidelines for in-person learning.

Should students attend class on campus?

All College of the Desert campuses are closed to non-essential staff and students. Those required to attend a class in-person must follow a pre-screening / assessment protocol prior to visiting campus.

Students who are registered to attend a hybrid/in-person class on the College’s Palm Desert campus will be emailed instructions for accessing campus. Students who have not registered for a hybrid class or those that do not follow the pre-screening / assessment protocol will not be allowed to enter campus.

How do I access Student Services, like Financial Aid and Counseling?

All Student Services have been transitioned into an online environment. Visit the Student Services section of our website to locate links to the online services you need.

What is the difference between a synchronous, asynchronous, combo or hybrid course, and how do I know how my course will meet?

Giving our students more learning options, there are now four types of online courses. Check the schedule or WebAdvisor for required meeting dates and times.

Synchronous learning

Is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that occur at the same time, but not in the same place. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of televisual, digital, and online learning in which students learn from instructors, colleagues, or peers in real-time, but not in person. For example, educational video conferences, interactive webinars, chat-based online discussions, and lectures that are broadcast at the same time they delivered would all be considered forms of synchronous learning.

Asynchronous learning

Is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of digital and online learning in which students learn from instruction—such as prerecorded video lessons or game-based learning tasks that students complete on their own—that is not being delivered in person or in real-time. Yet asynchronous learning may also encompass a wide variety of instructional interactions, including email exchanges between teachers, online discussion boards, and course-management systems that organize instructional materials and correspondence, among many other possible variations.


This term refers to classes that meet both Asynchronous and Synchronous.

Hybrid Learning

Hybrid classes meet mostly online with a combination of Asynchronous and Synchronous learning and also require on-campus meetings.

What guidance is there for athletic and performing arts events?

All events, including athletic contests and performing arts events have been canceled.

Will any on-campus classes move online as a result of this situation?

The decision to move classes online was not made lightly. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff continues to be the College’s top priority. Instructions on how to access your classes have been sent to your MyCOD email address and/or the Canvas system. You can also stay up-to-date with the College by downloading our new mobile application.

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

From the California Department of Public Health:

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and humans. This novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a newly discovered coronavirus that has not been previously detected in animals or humans. The source of this virus is not yet known.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

From the California Department of Public Health:

Typically, human coronaviruses cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illness. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including:

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chills

  • Repeated shaking with chills

  • Muscle pain

  • Headache Sore Throat

  • New loss of taste or smell

COVID-19 can cause more severe respiratory illness. If you have any of the emergency warning signs listed below, you should contact your medical provider immediately:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • New confusion

  • Bluish lips or face

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

From the California Department of Public Health:

From the international data we have, of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, approximately 80 percent have very mild symptoms that would not require hospitalization. For patients who are more severely ill, hospitals can provide supportive care. We are continuing to learn more about this novel coronavirus and treatment may change over time.

What is the difference between Exposure and Infection

Please note the important distinction between exposure, where an individual may have been in direct contact with someone who is infected, and infection, where an individual has been confirmed by testing to have contracted the virus. At a time of heightened concern and anxiety, it is very important that we choose our words carefully.

Do I need to wear a facemask?

COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with only another, within about six feet, so the use of face coverings is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other. Riverside County health officials recommend residents wear a face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household. Face coverings do not have to be hospital grade but need to cover the nose and mouth. Practicing physical distancing, covering the face and good handwashing can decrease the risk for infection by 95 percent.

The rationale for covering one’s face comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics can easily filter. This not only helps to reduce the risk a well person can breathe those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness. Face covering should be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses.

If someone is showing signs of the flu, what should I do?

Anyone who is displaying flu-like symptoms should stay home and stay away from others as much as possible to avoid the potential spread of infection.

If you are displaying flu-like symptoms and believe that you may have been exposed to someone who is at a high risk for coronavirus and is displaying flu-like symptoms, then we encourage you to:

  • Contact your primary care physician (remember to call ahead and wear a mask when arriving at the health care facility)
  • Notify the Riverside County Department of Health Services at 951-358-5134
  • Call the College’s Health Center to report the condition 760-776-7211
  • Reach out to your instructor or supervisor to inform them of your absence

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Riverside County has set-up a drive-up testing site at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. The drive-up site is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (or until supplies are exhausted). Appointments are required. Coachella Valley residents can call 1-800-945-6171 to make an appointment. You must have symptoms to receive a test, which include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, loss of taste or loss of smell.

To get additional information on testing locations in Riverside County, visit

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

From the California Department of Public Health:

The COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The State is prioritizing vaccines for equitable distribution to everyone in California who wants it. We expect to have enough supplies to vaccinate most Californians by summer 2021.

COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

The first two vaccines are up to 95% effectiveness against a person becoming ill with COVID-19.

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Learn how the federal government is working to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

To learn more about the vaccine rollout, visit Riverside County’s COVID-19 Vaccine website.

What precautionary measures is the College taking to protect students and employees?

Providing our faculty, staff and students with a safe environment for learning and teaching has always been a top priority at College of the Desert. Pursuant to California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA), workplace safety and health regulations in California require employers to take steps to protect workers exposed to infectious diseases like the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which is widespread in the community. Employers must prepare, implement, and maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program. View the College’s prevention plan.

What about employees and students who have compromised immune systems? Should we offer masks to these individuals?

Anyone with a compromised immune system should follow the same protocols they would take to prevent exposure to the flu and follow up with their primary care physician. Those protocols include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

How is coronavirus spread? Can it be spread through surfaces and objects?

The coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It is thought to spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How serious is the coronavirus?

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).

Reported community spread of COVID-19 in parts of the United States raises the level of concern about the immediate threat for COVID-19 for those communities. The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, to the United States and globally.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.

Is College of the Desert taking extra measures to clean and disinfect classrooms and other facilities?

All College custodial teams are following best-practice guidelines and taking extra steps to deep clean our campuses, particularly "high-touch" points such as door knobs, railings, door handles, bathroom push doors and light switches. In some areas, we are utilizing a sanitizing fogger to help with thorough disinfecting. Custodial staff are also utilizing higher-strength cleansing agents on hard surfaces.

If I don't think I've been exposed to anyone with coronavirus (COVID-19), then should I make changes to my regular routines?

People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at an elevated risk of exposure.

Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are also at elevated risk of exposure.

Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 are also at elevated risk of exposure.

Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.

The CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.

The California Department of Health Services recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses, including coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Washing hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding a cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick are all ways to reduce the risk of infection with a number of different viruses.
  • Staying away from work, school, or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.

We have confidence in state and local health experts and will continue to follow their expert counsel and direction.

Updated March 2, 2021