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


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.

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

Walk-throughs Report to John Jay Campus Employees

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.
The group of people on these walkthroughs included Janet Winter, Rulisa Galloway-Perry and Ellen Belcher, who have been attending PSC Health and Safety Watchdogs meetings weekly, as well as ventilation and workplace health and safety training from NYCOSH, OSHA, NYSUT. We were joined by JJC co-chairs John Pittman and Zabby Hovey and other JJC PSC volunteers. All of us have received walkthrough training with PSC-CUNY. We encourage you to sign up for to be a PSC H & S Watchdog because it empowers our safety vigilance going forward.   From management, we were joined by Mark Flower, Oswald Fraser, Don Gray, Diego Redondo, Tony Balkissoon and Anthony Bracco. We were told that DC-37 had a separate walkthrough previous to ours.
We are pleased to report that the spaces we visited looked, smelled, sounded and felt clean and well-ventilated. We thank our brothers and sisters in DC-37, Teamsters and other bargaining units who have obviously been working very hard to get the campus ready for our return to our workplaces. We do not have the equipment nor expertise to measure ventilation levels, but we were told that CUNY, ASHRAE and CDC guidance was being followed in all areas. We did measure temperature and can report that all areas we visited were in the 68 – 74 degree range.
While we did not notice any egregious concerns regarding our physical workplaces, we do continue to have great concern about policy, procedures, and communications necessary to keep all of us safe.  For example, during our walkthroughs we had many discussions about our concerns: potential crowding, especially in shared offices, reception areas and computer labs where PSC members’ workstations are located, especially after students return.
Administrators emphasized to us that the safety of departments and units, including adequate distance, are the responsibility of each supervisor; many or most of these individuals are also in the PSC bargaining unit.  We hope that they are getting the support and information that they need to keep us all safe.
We know that many health and safety concerns and questions remain about individual workplaces. We encourage you to register for and attend the Return to Campus Update Forum for Employees on Wednesday, August 4, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  (Described here). We also encourage you all to continue to report Health and Safety concerns to your supervisors and management.  There is also an anonymous complaint option for you to voice your concerns. 
Our reporting form will remain open to receive your concerns, but it does not substitute for a discussion of your concerns with your supervisor and/or facilities staff.  Please keep in touch with us, by using this form or email us directly (jjcpsc@gmail.com).  Please also visit the PSC health and safety web resources on our website and on the PSC website.
We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.
Ellen Belcher, JJC PSC Chapter Health and Safety Committee Chair, JJC PSC Delegate
Rulisa Galloway-Perry, JJC Campus HEO Advisor, JJC PSC Delegate
Janet Winter, Cross Campus Officer, PSC Executive Council, JJC PSC HEO Delegate
John Pittman & Zabby Hovey, JJC PSC Chapter Co-Chairs, JJC PSC Delegates