Weekly Repopulation Update 4/26

Sent: April 26, 2021

From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear colleagues,

We continue to witness a lot of change as we plan for campus repopulation. Fall will be a transition semester and what I write below is what I know today!

The CSU System has announced, in collaboration with the UC System, that vaccines will be required of all faculty, staff, and students in the fall. This is good news for many! But, there is a fairly significant caveat - a vaccine must be given full FDA approval before this requirement will be put in place. Optimists suggest that Pfizer will have such approval this summer - before school begins - others suggest it could be longer. What this means is we have to plan knowing that some COVID-19 mitigation strategies are necessary in the fall. 

Let’s be clear - vaccines are already available, and given this notification everyone affiliated with SJSU who is over 16 should get a vaccine as soon as possible. Campus is messaging this to students already. But, our planning has to assume we need to manage COVID-19 spread without an approved vaccine. Research suggests that airborne distribution systems are the most effective way for the disease to move from one person to the next. Our facilities team has thus increased the amount of external air flowing through buildings and upgraded the filtering systems as well. Masks still will be required this fall, as will some form of physical distancing (we anticipate three feet, which many lecture classes can accommodate). We will all be encouraged to open windows to increase airflow where we can. 

In addition to these strategies, we have adjusted the class schedule to allow for more time between classes for air to recirculate. These adjustments largely impact the class start times during the day, but also may have created some changes in the evenings. The strategy to create a longer break between classes is based on the knowledge that the air in the SJSU classrooms recirculates approximately every 10 minutes. A 30 minute break creates three cycles of air refresh before the next class enters the room. The combination of increased fresh air flow into classrooms and an increased amount of air exchange between classes will help reduce the risk of spread when participating in on-campus classroom activities.

Of course, all of this will have to come with a very robust awareness campaign and regulations of hallways and other common spaces. It will not be easy, and that is why we think of fall as a transition semester

I want to give a very big shout out to the teams in Academic Scheduling and IT, who have worked hours upon hours to examine and adjust the fall schedule in bulk to minimize the work that the departments needed to do. That said, I am aware departments will need to make some changes to the adjusted Fall 2021 schedule to accommodate circumstances unique to their programs and faculty. And, importantly, I know that there are many, many classrooms available on campus, although they are not in the traditional places. Please contact academicscheduling@sjsu.edu if you can’t find a room for your class.

This is going to be another intense summer. It is my hope, however, that once the schedule goes live, we will not make any major changes to class modes and times, but instead adjust and fine-tune as needed as we have traditionally done. 

Thank you for all your hard work. We have to maintain our care for each other as we continue to struggle with this pandemic and its aftermath.