Monday, April 05, 2021
Recent weeks have brought good news as the vaccine rollout continues to gain momentum and Bay Area counties have seen significant declines in new COVID-19 infections. Health officials urge continued caution and safety measures, though, as we navigate the last months of the pandemic.
We recently surveyed all staff to assess their satisfaction with and the effectiveness of remote work to guide our planning for fall when we expect an increased number of in-person courses and experiences. The results provide many insights, including that the majority of staff members want to return to campus at least some of the time in the fall with appropriate public health measures in place.
The fall will be a transitional semester with significantly more in-person classes in addition to many remote options for our students. Given the need to support a greater number of in-person classes and operations, we anticipate that most staff will return to work in a hybrid model, with a balance of in-person and remote work to be determined by supervisors. As always, the university remains committed to providing a safe work environment, following the highest levels of public health directives.
Discussions have already begun to identify which services and staff will be needed to support the increased number of students and employees who will be returning to campus. We expect that most staff will need to be on campus 2-3 days per week. To reduce the number of people on campus at any given time and allow for physical distancing, we are building flexibility into our planning while prioritizing safety and the need to serve our students at the level they need and deserve. Vice presidents will work with supervisors in the coming weeks and months to plan for in-person staffing levels and how to accomplish them safely in our various workspaces.
Throughout the pandemic, we have placed the safety of our campus community at the forefront of our decision making, and I am proud of our successes. San Francisco State University will continue to be a safe place as we transition to greater in-person learning, work and other experiences. We will continue to diligently follow San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) guidance, including observing the public health mitigations that have kept those working and living on campus this past year safe:
• Physical distancing
• Observing maximum occupancy guidelines
• Face coverings
• Enhanced cleaning
• Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Broad availability of hand sanitizer and other supplies
• Health screenings for individuals who are interacting with others
• Voluntary testing as necessary
Most importantly, we will encourage the entire SF State community to get vaccinated, and we will continue efforts to provide access to the vaccine. I am happy to report that effective April 15th, all of our students will be eligible for the vaccine. SFDPH has agreed to increase the number of SF State community members who get priority access at Mashouf Wellness Center. We will also provide students with information on how to access the vaccine in the California counties many live in.
I know that all are anxious to know what the fall will look like for them. Colleges and departments are working now to confirm plans for faculty, who also were surveyed recently as were students. For staff and administrators, our goal for fall is to confirm preliminary plans by June 1 and begin notifying employees of the framework for in-person staffing so they will have time to plan appropriately. Please note, though, that staffing needs will be reassessed on an ongoing basis as the health situation develops, increasing numbers of students arrive on campus and as SFDPH rules allow.
Many of our staff colleagues have continued to work on campus over the past several months. I remain grateful for their work—we will return to a healthy and beautiful campus thanks to their efforts. I remain inspired by the work of all staff, faculty and administrators this past year. As I reviewed the results of the staff survey, I was struck, yet again, by our staff’s commitment to the University and its students. Despite the uncertainties at the time the survey was distributed, more than half indicated their desire to return to campus--even before vaccinations were widely available.
I know how hard our transition to remote teaching and working was and how difficult even a gradual return to campus will be. I thanked you for your patience last spring. I thank you in advance for your patience again as we work through this transitionary period. With the growing availability of vaccines for all adults and our long-term commitment to educational equity and our students, I have every confidence that we will have as robust a campus experience as we safely can in the fall. And even better days await us.
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.