Dear campus community,
I know, though, that questions remain about how we are keeping the campus community safe during this Delta-driven surge in COVID-19. Here is a recap of our actions and what’s to come.
COVID-19 vaccination interim policy
We have been assured that a campus can open safely with a high vaccination rate (along with COVID-19 testing and mandatory face coverings). Vaccinations remain our greatest weapon against COVID-19. No vaccine is 100% effective, but the COVID-19 vaccines continue to show great strength in reducing transmission and minimizing the severity of the disease.
That’s why last week, the University sent notices regarding the COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Policy. This policy went into effect immediately for all students and non-represented employees, including administrators, confidential employees, other non-represented employees and auxiliary employees, to provide proof of vaccination or participate in a campus testing program as a result of a religious or medical exemption.
SF State is requiring all students resuming in-person classes or campus activities upload proof of vaccination. Students who don’t upload proof and don’t have exemptions will not be allowed to move into residence halls or remain enrolled in an in-person class. They will be dropped from in-person classes the week of August 16 and redirected to online options. Requests for vaccine exemptions are less than 1%. We will easily exceed the 90% vaccination rate for students that health experts suggested.
Represented faculty and staff are encouraged to voluntarily upload their proof of COVID-19 vaccination; however, the California State University (CSU) is in the process of meet and confer with our unions before the interim policy can be implemented. For CSUEU, their employees have agreed to mandatory testing for staff who do not submit proof of vaccination.
Testing and contact tracing
For the small number of people who are unvaccinated and undergo regular testing, we have a third-party COVID-19 testing vendor that can test samples within 24 hours. SF State also has a team of contact tracers who will identify those who have been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19 (defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period).
Accommodations will be made for those infected with COVID-19 as well as for anyone determined to be in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 to ensure that they are not present on campus while they are or may be ill. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, participating in classes remotely, working remotely or taking leave until it is deemed safe for the individual to return.
Reduced capacity and personal protective equipment
As we return to campus this Fall, we are doing so in a way that allows for reduced contact: only half of our students will be returning for in-person classes, many faculty members are teaching remotely and most staff are on campus 2-3 days per week.
The University is also providing personal protective equipment (PPE) items such as multi-layered face coverings, gloves, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, plastic face shields and more.
At SF State, we never lifted the indoor face covering mandate. Bay Area counties recently announced they will now also require face coverings indoors, which is reassuring.
We are an academic community driven by a passion for knowledge and confidence in science. We are not where we were in 2020. We have vaccines, we can test and contact trace and we know more about how face coverings reduce the transmission of the virus. Last week, I had an opportunity to thank all those who have been working on campus these last 17 months. It was wonderful to see so many people! I look forward to welcoming more staff and faculty back next week and welcoming our residential life students the following week.
I’m also excited to start our academic year officially at Opening Convocation on August 18 that we will livestream on the Academic Senate webpage. The event will be held in McKenna Theatre for those who want to attend in person.
Please check our Campus Comeback website regularly for the latest updates and other ways we are keeping our campus safe. As I look at our return, I can’t think of any other university I would rather be at than ours.
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.