On Monday, January 3rd, the Officers of the Academic Senate had a regular meeting with Interim President Yao. Raquel and Jason were present. So was Provost Avila. Conversation focused on repopulating campus for the Spring 2022 and the options the president was considering.
Yao had met with staff leadership that morning to have a similar conversation. Would be meeting with Cabinet later in the week and with Ventura Public Health that afternoon. Wanted to get a message out to campus mid-week (by Thursday).
In weighing options, President Yao was asking ‘what are the major harms?’ Retention was at the forefront of his mind, so the potential for disrupting learning and disruptions to student success were serious concerns.
He shared that he was thinking of a booster mandate, making it required sooner than the Chancellor’s Office is requiring it in the CSU. (The CO is requiring boosters by February 29th.) Were we to delay the start of face-to-face meetings for two weeks (running classes virtually for the first two seeks), he was thinking of requiring boosters by the return to face-to-face on February 7th.
Miller pointed out that the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, if it effects campus, will lead to students self-isolating and missing classes and instructors doing the same. This disruption to student learning could be greater than any disruption by starting a course virtually. (Campus has not allowed putting an instructor into the position of supporting learners both online and in the classroom and it should not start now.)
Yao reported that the Ventura County Public Health folks have been very please with the mitigation work campus has maintained since the start of the pandemic. He suggested they thought starting virtually was not absolutely necessary. (CLU is starting the term face-to-face.) Public Health thought that this wave of COVID would peak and decline rapidly near the start of the term.
Miller also advised that the President be sensitive to the members of our community who are not able to fully participate in returning to campus for any numbers of reasons (e.g., they are immunocompromised, they are the primary caregiver for a young person or another who cannot be vaccinated). When campus messages make sweeping statements that do not acknowledge that they are part of our community, it has a demoralizing effect.