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
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.
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.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We write to report that a small group of PSC Health and Safety Watchdogs completed two walkthroughs of our campus spaces.
- Pre-occupation walkthrough 1– July 21, we joined management representatives to visit the BMW level 6; Haaren Hall Levels C, B, 1 (Library), 2, 3.
- Pre-occupation walkthrough 2- On July 27, we joined management representatives to visit LL Westport both floors, and the New Building levels L, and 1.
- Future Pre-occupation walkthrough 3– This Is scheduled for 8/17/2021 during which we will visit classrooms which will be in operation FA21 and academic departments, including all locations where specific issues have been raised by members of the bargaining unit.