Category Archives: COVID-19 response

Information related to the COVID-19 epidemic, including re-opening plans.

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Upcoming deadline to avoid classroom crowding and other updates

Colleagues —    Provost Li has acknowledged the CDC guidelines at last by giving faculty the chance to request a larger room in the event of crowding, AND to go on line if a larger classroom is not available. The deadline for applying is 5 pm on Thursday afternoon. Here is the link for that request.

On our website, you will find the report our health & safety watchdogs have forwarded to the administration, following our 3rd walkthrough.  Li’s modified policies, and cleanliness and responsiveness to our concerns that we have directly experienced help ease the greatest of our concerns, but as you will see we have a number of issues and we have not yet received any direct communication about our original punch list.

The PSC has demanded, CUNY-wide, a testing interval of 72 hours to confirm the safety of non-vaccinated entrants to campuses. The science says 72 hours is protective, not 168 hours, as CUNY is content with.  Non-teaching faculty and staff are still obliged to be on campus half of the time amid all who are allowed on campus, despite the inadequate testing interval.  Additionally, we seek the surveillance testing that CUNY management and its testing vendor promised weeks ago.  Since vaccinated people can, it turns out, spread the virus, and the surveillance tests themselves are not onerous, we want this to protect everyone and help put this pandemic behind us.

We want to know if there are concerns that have surfaced on campus.  Here is a link to our new reporting form . https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSehUBFHdTZtvr_PppqYP_i31S-8iv2-UiUGVvhnjow1N7S5-A/viewform?usp=sf_link

Provost Li has acknowledged the wisdom of the policy that we and the department chairs have been arguing for since early August — that faculty should be able to go online with their classes temporarily, given that the Chancellor has set us up for a situation on campus of mixed vax’ed in-person populations. The Provost’s offer is only for classes which still have unvaccinated students.

Finally, we have scheduled two PSC meetings for September. Our Chapter meeting will be on zoom on Tuesday, September 21st, during common hour, 1:40-2:55 pm.  A link will be forthcoming.  Also, the Adjunct Organizing Committee will meet from 1:30 to 2:30 on Thursday September 9th.  Adjuncts, please watch your inboxes for communications from its co-chairs Jonathan Epstein and Corinna Mullins.

in solidarity,

Zabby Hovey & John Pittman,   John Jay PSC Chapter co-chairs

Update from Chairs, Faculty Senate calls for postponed reopening

Dear Colleagues,

    Please be reminded that we have a short Chapter meeting scheduled for tomorrow/Monday at 11 AM on zoom.  Here is the link, full zoom details at the end. We have top experts from John Jay’s Reopening Committee, PSC negotiators and union Watchdogs on the state of reopening; a brief account what members should be prepared for on the first day of classes; and a Q & A for your comments and questions.  Please join us!

    The John Jay chapter is issuing a letter to the chancellor and our own administration on the situation, calling for flexibility and a John Jay version of a safe reopening, authorizing those concerned with conditions on campus to implement their own ‘soft return’ to campus.  You can find and sign onto the letter here. https://actionnetwork.org/letters/psc-john-jay-safe-reopening

    We also want to acknowledge here the statement issued last week by the Faculty Senate executive committee calling for a postponement of the campus reopening.  If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here below, in green. We certainly endorse this statement.

See you tomorrow,

John & Zabby

p.s. Once you have signed and shared our John Jay letter to the Chancellor, amplify a similar CUNY wide petition “Delay CUNY Reopening” https://www.change.org/p/cuny-chancellor-f%C3%A9lix-matos-rodr%C3%ADguez-executive-vice-chancellor-h%C3%A9ctor-batista-delay-cuny-reopening?signed=true

Announcement shared Friday morning, 8/20/21

Faculty:

The Faculty Senate met yesterday and the Senate Executive Committee adopted this resolution in accordance with the views of the Senators attending. We are sending this to the Chancellor, because implementing these recommendations is partially or completely under the Chancellor’s control. We are also sending this to our college administration.

Ned Benton, Senate President

Karen Kaplowitz, Senate Vice President

Francis Sheehan, Mickey Melendez, Erica King-Toler, Heath Grant, Executive Committee

RESOLUTION OF THE FACULTY SENATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Whereas, the Faculty Senate held a special meeting on August 19, 2021 to discuss the schedule for reopening as it relates to classroom-based instruction, and as it relates to mask requirements;

Whereas, the Chancellor has communicated to the students that that unvaccinated students will have a maximum of 45 days from the date of the FDA approval to get fully vaccinated and upload verification documents to CUNYfirst;

Whereas, reported COVID-19 cases in New York County continue to rise;

Whereas, the Chancellor has announced that, in a classroom, if a vaccinated professor is teaching a class and is able to keep social distance from everyone else in the class, he or she may choose not to wear a mask;

Whereas, the College reopening plan proposed a stronger mask policy that did not provide for the exception announced by the Chancellor.

Therefore, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, acting during the summer to convey the sense of the Faculty Senate, resolves that:

  • For Fall 2021, all instruction should be conducted online until 45 days following the date of FDA approval of a COVID vaccine, when the CUNY mandatory vaccination policy, as described by the Chancellor in an email to all students, takes effect, and
  • For Fall 2021, John Jay College should enforce a no-exception mask mandate for all persons within our campus facilities.

Letter to President Mason and Provost Li – emailed 16 August 2021

Colleagues —

In light of the concerning news about the current high COVID transmission rates in the communities John Jay serves, we reiterated to the administration the importance of clear communication about social distancing, a mask mandate, and the option of working remotely for all those whose specific vulnerabilities or domestic circumstances pose significant health risks. Given the conflicting messages about the safety protocols for the reopening of CUNY campuses to in-person instruction, the John Jay PSC chapter sent the following letter, this past Monday, to the John Jay college leadership.

——

President Mason and Provost Li,

We have arrived at a very serious point. John Jay had a cautious and responsible reopening plan, set by the Reopening committee, that the CUNY administration required us to develop. We are now being told that key components of this plan are no longer in effect. When CUNY shifted course abruptly to require that 60% of classes have an on-campus component, the Reopening committee took the responsible approach, following CDC guidance, of establishing a mask mandate. Faculty who agreed to teach on campus did so because of the promise that there would be a mask mandate. With the spread of the highly infectious Delta COVID variant, the situation has drastically deteriorated, yet it seems the administration’s strategy has not adjusted accordingly.

We are relieved that CUNY management have accepted the PSC’s demand to ensure all teaching and work spaces will accommodate six feet of physical distancing until our members are positively assured that the people with whom they share space are vaccinated. However, there are other crucial health and safety concerns that have not been addressed in a satisfactory way by management. In particular, we are concerned that the Chancellor’s most recent email allows for exceptions to the newly implemented mask mandate for vaccinated people “in a classroom, dorm room, office, or other enclosed space, or… at a workspace/desk and is socially distanced from any other occupied workspace/desk.” This goes against the CDC’s recommendation that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors at all times, as well as the WHO’s recommendation that the vaccinated wear masks in places where there is any community spread.

It is imperative that we follow the CDC guidelines, especially given the high rates of COVID-19 infection in surrounding counties. As of today, all five counties that comprise New York City, as well as the tri-state area the John Jay serves, are areas of substantial or high transmission. In addition, in John Jay’s immediate vicinity the rate of community transmission is high, the CDC’s most severe risk category.

With infection rates and hospitalizations going up, the CUNY administration should be implementing a very cautious approach to re-opening. These are life-and-death matters and we must put the health and safety of our students and all CUNY employees front and center in decision-making. At the very least, John Jay should institute a mask mandate for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status, and provide faculty members with the option of beginning their in-person class online, at least until all on-campus students have had their vaccination status verified. We also ask that individual faculty be authorized to delay the transition to in-person even later if faculty members, or members of their household, become especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (for example, the new diagnosis of a serious illness or the need to begin caring for a vulnerable family member). In these rare cases, it makes more sense to change the course modality, than to replace the faculty member. We also reiterate the importance of smaller class sizes, for both health and safety and pedagogical reasons, as well as our concerns that no changes to course offerings be made that would negatively impact faculty, staff, and student safety at this stage.

Adjunct Organizing Committee
Chapter Executive Committee
John Jay College PSC