Category Archives: COVID-19 response

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

Open Letter to President Mason and Provost Li 1/17/2021

Dear President Mason and Provost Li,

We view with alarm the continuing high city-wide rate of Omicron Coronavirus infections, especially considering the vulnerable people in many households of John Jay colleagues, staff and students. Until the infection rate slows significantly, no one who can work remotely should be obliged to come to campus.

We would like to share Chancellor Matos Rodriguez’ optimism that the pandemic will soon be behind us, but we believe now is the time for clear-headed planning in light of the Omicron variant’s high transmission rates. In person courses will be approximately 70% of the total, and there will be twice as many people on campus as Fall 2021. We want a return to campus that all can greet with enthusiasm, not super-spreading. The murkiness of last semester’s start – delayed application of CDC guidance and shifting vaccine deadlines – should not be repeated.

Therefore, we urge you, President Mason and Provost Li, to announce immediately that all classes for the first two weeks of the spring semester will be in online mode. Of course, all work performed by HEOs, CLTs and faculty would also be online, not on campus, so long as infection rates are high. Why not use the example of Queens College? Well in advance of the fall term, Queens College announced a uniform online start, in response to local Covid transmission rates, which were then less than 1/20th of what John Jay’s local rates were this week (115.6 per 100K v. 2760.86). City College also started with an all-online modality, despite having lower local transmission rates than John Jay did.

Our students travel long distances. We are asking them to use public transit to come to a vicinity where infection rates soar above where they were when the 70% goal was set. Announcing a science-based online start for all courses and services would also give faculty, staff and students the time to obtain and document the vaccinations, boosters and negative test results that the Governor now requires. It would also allow the College time to procure the necessary PPE to comply with the most updated CDC safety recommendations.

The clarity and improved planning enabled by an announcement such as this from you now would help ensure the safety and well-being of the entire John Jay community, and as smooth as possible a start to the academic semester.


John Pittman and Zabby Hovey, Co-Chairs
John Jay College Chapter, Professional Staff Congress

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 .

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.

    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”

Announcement shared Friday morning, 8/20/21


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


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.