Updates on Fall 2021 Planning
August 19, 2021
Dear Faculty Colleagues:
Over the past weeks, I have received several notes sharing your words of welcome as well as concerns about campus reopening plans—I listen to and thank you for both. Returning to campus after almost 18 months of remote work is an understandable source of anxiety, so I want to provide you with information and guidance to help your transition.
The majority of our students are registered for a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online classes. Nobody (including you) can enter a campus building without a recent negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination. Thus, if you are teaching an in-person or hybrid class, I recommend you include the following statement—taken directly from the Chancellor’s message to students—as a front-page announcement on Blackboard and on your syllabus:
Students taking in-person or hybrid classes who fail to follow the vaccine mandate per CUNY policy will be subject to potential academic withdrawal that could also impact their financial aid and might not be eligible for refunds for the course.
We understand that you may be concerned about the possibility of having students who are not yet fully vaccinated in the in-person classroom. The likelihood of unvaccinated students in in-person classes is low. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, we are examining each in-person course section to make sure there is adequate space to accommodate distancing requirements for the small number of students who may not yet be fully vaccinated. You may want to add a note to your syllabus reminding students that they are required to wear a mask in the classroom and that unvaccinated students should remain six feet away from others, even when masked. Socially distancing is not required for vaccinated students.
As faculty members, you too should be aware of the strict campus access protocols that are in place. Please be sure to upload your own vaccination information to CUNYfirst or have a recent (within 7 days) negative Covid-19 test from a CUNY testing site. After you upload your vaccination documentation, it will take 24 hours for that information to be verified and connected to the ID card access system, so please do this in advance of the first day you return to campus. We have staff from both Human Resources and Enrollment Management working seven days per week to verify information in the CUNYfirst system and push it into the ID card access system. There will be occasional glitches, and we work to address them as they occur; I encourage you to give yourself extra time should you encounter any of those glitches. Once classes begin on August 25, there will be a separately designated faculty and staff access line at the Newman Vertical Campus (NVC) and at the Field Building at 17 Lex turnstiles to help make your building access as easy as possible.
As I have noted in my earlier communication, we are not making wholesale changes in course modality at this time. This will only be done if there is a significant change in the course of the pandemic. With a city-wide adult vaccination rate over 74% and a city-wide testing positivity rate well below the threshold for concern, we are not at that point and hope not to get there. Please remember that the mask mandate for all CUNY campuses has been extended, there is a vaccination requirement for in-person and hybrid classes, and everyone entering a campus building must have a recent negative test or be fully vaccinated. Yet, we remain committed to making adjustments as needed or moving to remote work if the situation takes a significant turn. Details about the conditions that would necessitate such a change are in Baruch’s updated Safe Campus Reopening Plan.
Even with these safeguards in place, you may still have concerns, which is understandable. Coming to campus for the first time will feel different. It will also look different—there is Covid-19-related signage, blocked-off sinks in the restrooms, hand sanitizer stations at many entrances, and everyone you see will be masked. Despite the challenges we face, I am glad that we are facing them together.
For the latest Fall 2021 updates and guidance, check the Baruch Forward website frequently.
While we are all dealing with the urgent and important task of starting the fall semester, I am also working with the deans and other members of the academic affairs and faculty leadership to finalize plans for two important new initiatives to support faculty innovation and interschool, cross-college collaborations in research, teaching, and engagement: 1) Provost Innovation Fellows and 2) Faculty Innovation Seed Grants for Interdisciplinary Research. Please look for details about these programs in next week’s message.
Finally, I very much look forward to meeting you in person (albeit masked) on campus soon.
With warm regards,
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs