The CUNY administration has made some progress in preparation for a safe Fall 2021 semester, but the first day of classes is next Wednesday, August 25, and a number of provisions remain inadequate for addressing the threat of the COVID Delta variant. The Chancellor’s August 16 communication about mask-wearing was a welcome improvement, and we observed a relatively low density of employees on the four CUNY worksites we visited this week. But several outstanding issues remain unaddressed.
Please join us on Tuesday August 24, 10:00 a.m. at CUNY Central (205 E. 42nd St.) for a PSC press conference and safety picket. RSVP here.
The union maintains that CUNY should recalibrate its reopening, as Lehman College and Queens College have already done. Until September 14, the deadline for in-person students to submit proof of vaccination, CUNY should reduce the number of staff reporting to in-person work and should honor requests for remote work and teaching.
Years of deferred maintenance and disinvestment of public funding have made it difficult for CUNY to rebuild and recover the infrastructure to support pandemic-era teaching and learning. But CUNY received over $800 million in federal stimulus funding for institutional use. These funds must be used to make campuses safe and to keep our faculty and staff employed. CUNY has repeatedly made assurances that reopening policies would follow the science and comply with CDC guidance. But at several campuses problems persist, including ventilation issues and non-CDC compliant guidance about distancing. The union’s key concerns include:
- Inadequate testing protocols
- Inadequate evidence of ventilation in several CUNY facilities
- Lack of a clear plan for suspension of in-person work and instruction in the case of widespread infection in the city, nearby community or on campuses.
On Tuesday, we hope to report progress on these fronts, or we will escalate our campaign for a safe return. Please join us at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 24, outside CUNY Central, 205 East 42nd Street. RSVP here.
Thank you for all you have done for the CUNY community over the past 18 months. Together we have made important gains so let’s keep up the pressure to ensure the safety and health of us all.
James Davis, President
Andrea Vásquez, First Vice President
Felicia Wharton, Treasurer
Penny Lewis, Secretary