LACCD employee dies from COVID-19

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

After being hospitalized for more than a week, Regional IT Manager Kabwe Chanda died due to the coronavirus.

By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief

The Los Angeles Community College District has confirmed that the regional manager of their Information Technology Department, Kabwe Chanda, passed away due to complications from the coronavirus.

On April 8, Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez announced in a press release that an employee had died that morning from COVID-19. Though he did not name the individual out of respect for their family and privacy, the chancellor did state the employee had been hospitalized on March 29 after displaying symptoms of the virus. On April 10, Southwest College President Seher Awan sent an email that confirmed that the employee was Chanda.

“This is a very sad, sad day for the entire LACCD community,” Rodriguez wrote. “Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families and take all necessary precautions to combat the spread of this coronavirus.”

Due to the pandemic, it will be unlikely that a traditional service or funeral will be held, according to Awan. Plans for a virtual remembrance are underway, but details are currently still pending.

Chanda’s career with the district spanned over 25 years, according to Valley College President Barry Gribbons. He started at West Los Angeles College as a student tutor before becoming an instructional assistant and then an assistant computer and network specialist.

He taught computer science as an adjunct professor at West LA for over a decade until 2006, where he began to work at Southwest as a computer and network specialist. Chanda was then promoted to a senior computer and network specialist at Valley from 2012 to 2018, when he returned to Southwest as the college’s information system manager. He began his new job as the regional IT manager about a month ago, overseeing IT operations at West LA, Southwest and City College.

“Kabwe left an indelible mark during his time at Valley College and was a beloved member of our Monarch family,” Gribbons said. “He is fondly remembered for his positive personality, warm smile, laughter and willingness to help the people around him.”

Last month, Gribbons confirmed that a faculty member in Valley’s Child Development Department tested positive for COVID-19. After being quarantined for 14 days, the employee was feeling better.

For employees struggling over the news, Awan recommended using the district’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or LA County’s Department of Mental Health hotline for grief counseling. The EAP can be reached at (800) 327-0449, and the County’s Mental Health Hotline can be contacted at (800) 854-7771. Both numbers are available 24/7.

“I encourage all of you to remember Kabwe and honor his memory by continuing to support our students and one another with empathy and kindness,” Awan said. “This would be a great celebration of his life. Rest in peace dear friend.”

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