Day Before CUNY’s Fall Reopening, CUNY Faculty & Staff Union and Elected Officials Raise Safety Concerns

Updated: August 27, 2021
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CUNY Yet to Address Inadequate Testing, Ventilation and Safety Protocols

On Tuesday, August 24 at the City University of New York Central administration building, members of the Professional Staff Congress called for additional safety protocols to be included in CUNY's COVID reopening plan. The PSC's principal officers called for the following measures to be implemented as CUNY's 25 campuses and facilities reopen for in-person work and instruction this week:

  • That CUNY permit remote instruction until the State guidance concerning student vaccinations can be met and in-person students are fully vaccinated
  • That CUNY release clear, consistent policies on distancing for all CUNY facilities that adhere to CDC guidance
  • That professional staff who do not need to be on campus be allowed to work remotely if they request it
  • That the air flow in facilities located in Queens College, Hunter College, Baruch College, Medgar Evers College, and Bronx Community College be spot-checked.
  • That CUNY require a negative COVID test within 72 hours while the rate of community transmission is high

Following the press conference at City University of New York Central administration building, the PSC President and the following elected officials released these statements:

"As the Delta variant emerged in New York City and vaccinations stagnated, it became clear that CUNY's existing policies would be inadequate for reducing the spread of the virus," said PSC President James Davis. "The administration must take the steps we have raised with them immediately to reduce the risk on campus and safeguard the health of the CUNY community."
"CUNY serves a large, hard-working and diverse student body that had already been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Its reopening to in-person classes should be accomplished with an eye towards ensuring proper protections are in place for students, staff and the surrounding communities, as we continue to battle the COVID-19 virus," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. "I fully support the PSC's efforts to ensure that all CUNY institutions follow the proper and appropriate COVID-19 protocols. CUNY students deserve a safe learning environment where they can pursue the quality education that all of its 25 colleges are known for."

"As CUNY re-opens to in-person classes, we have to be sure that each building is safe for students, professors and support staff. Cleaning protocols must be in place, testing available as needed with sufficient masking and sanitizer for individuals. It is equally important that buildings be properly ventilated and cleaned, conforming to CDC guidelines and City and State regulations." - Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Chair, Committee on Higher Education

“CUNY students and employees deserve a safe return to classes on August 25th, the beginning of the fall term, but key concerns are yet to be addressed at this late date. With the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant, it’s become more important than ever that CUNY update their testing protocols, improve ventilation in their facilities, and plan ahead for possible suspensions of in-person instruction. CUNY must do it’s part to keep its community safe, and that means releasing comprehensive and effective COVID-19 plans right away.” - Senator John Liu, Member, Committee on Higher Education

“For more than 150 years, CUNY has been the bedrock of success for so many New Yorkers and for our city. For CUNY to continue to provide economic opportunity and an outstanding education for New Yorkers of all backgrounds, we need both smart investment and public health policies that protect the whole community and the whole city. This fall, with the rise of the Delta variant, that means a layered, proactive approach that includes vaccination, testing and adequate ventilation -- so that the university can continue to serve its community and our city safely.” - Council Member Brad Lander, Democratic Nominee for Comptroller

"The City University of New York (CUNY) serves nearly half a million New Yorkers. CUNY is a vital tool for the social and economic recovery of New York City. While CUNY, SUNY and other colleges are makings plans to reopen and aim to restore some semblance of normalcy for our college community, I strongly urge the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez, College Presidents and CUNY Central to implement policies that seek to keep safe our community of students, faculty, staff, and support personnel.

"As the coronavirus Delta variant continues to rise, CUNY must open its campuses with the utmost attention to safety, by (1) enhancing its testing protocols, (2) providing adequate evidence of specific ventilation issues, and (3) presenting a clear plan of suspension of in-person work and instruction in the case of widespread infection in the city, nearby community or on the campuses. The health and safety policies that CUNY management enact will impact half a million students and employees and must be handled responsibly.

"CUNY should also reconsider the full opening of campuses to coincide with the date for compliance of verification of vaccination.

Finally, CUNY must have a comprehensive plan that provides adequate course offerings for students to ensure that they can complete their degrees, regardless of the mode of instruction.

We must continue to be vigilant in all aspects of fighting to protect the health of all of the college community." -- Inez Barron, Chairperson, New York City Council committee on higher education