From the President: Prepare Together
Monday, July 19, 2021
Dear campus community,
Summers always seem to move more quickly than other seasons, but this summer seems to be moving even faster than usual. I was struck last week by the uptick in activity on campus heralding our return in just a matter of weeks. Like many of you, I am incredibly excited about seeing students on campus. And I have enjoyed seeing colleagues in person since opening the Office of the President in early June. But, also like many of you, the news about stalling vaccination rates and the spread of the Delta variant worries me. I write today to provide an update on the work being done to ensure a safe return to campus.
The Bay Area continues to enjoy among the highest vaccination rates in the U.S. And, while the number of COVID cases has increased since the state reopened, our region remains safe…for those who are vaccinated! I cannot stress enough just how important vaccination is now—for personal and public health.
Students will receive emails this week, and employees the following week, asking them to voluntarily upload their proof of vaccinations. Our residential students have already been required to upload their documentation, and I am thrilled to report that of 3400 students requested 85% complied by the due date and only 28 have requested medical or religious exemptions as of late last week. I am very confident that we will have full compliance well before the residence halls open in mid-August. I am deeply proud of these students. Our residence halls will be very safe places thanks to them!
Last week Pfizer announced that it is unlikely that their vaccine will receive full authorization in time for the fall semester. The CSU will not be able to implement its vaccination policy before then as it requires that a vaccine receive full FDA authorization first. We are developing an interim plan for campus safety while we await the implementation of the CSU policy. These plans will likely include mandatory weekly testing and, given new county recommendations, continued use of face coverings indoors. Those who upload documentation of having been vaccinated would be exempt from weekly testing. Given the response we have seen from our residential students and the vaccination rate for those over 18 in the Bay Area, we should have few who need weekly testing. Our goal remains unchanged—a fully vaccinated campus.
We are taking many measures to ensure the health of the campus community. We have invested in thousands of face coverings, including N95s and KN95s. We are cleaning, testing and ensuring the efficacy of our HVAC system. We have reduced campus capacity for fall by offering many online courses and allowing continued work from home. And we have more hand sanitizer than I could ever have imagined. Sadly, COVID-19 is here to stay, but with vaccines, testing, face coverings and good hygiene, we will manage it.
Please keep an eye out for email instructions on how to upload your record of vaccination. The sooner we do this, the more securely we can return to campus. While we will be sure to send a campus email once the interim plan is confirmed, I urge all to regularly check the Prepare Together website for updates and information, including information about the availability of vaccines for you and your loved ones. There is nothing more important that we can do for one another than get vaccinated. I am grateful to live in a city and work at a University that values the collective over the individual, that understands that it is our responsibility to keep others, as well as ourselves, healthy.
I keep a basket of face coverings acquired over the last 16 months near my door. I long for the day that I can move that basket to the back of the closet. But for now, I am proudly vaccinated and remain masked in public indoor spaces.
Please enjoy the rest of your summer.
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.