Fall 2021 Reopening Plan
In March, 2020, York College, in conjunction with The City University of New York, moved nearly all of its operations to a remote format in response to the quickly-growing COVID-19 pandemic, in the interests of the health and safety of its students, faculty and staff. In Fall, 2020, the College was able to move a small number of classes to in-person format, where the move was absolutely necessary to the nature of the class, and only after implementing extensive precautions to minimize the risk posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the College prepared its Reopening Plan, preparing for the end of the pandemic and the eventual return to in-person operations, with the most recent version having been issued in September, 2020 (“Reopening Plan,” attached hereto.)
As we enter the summer and look ahead to Fall, 2021, the College finds itself in a very different environment. New COVID-19 cases have fallen dramatically as the number of individuals vaccinated have exploded (as of the time of this writing, over 70% of individuals in New York State have had at least one inoculation.) As a result, the College is now in a position to safely expand its on-campus presence. Both the College and the University recognize that it is in the interests of our students to expand on-campus instruction to the extent we can safely do so. Accordingly, the College now supplements its September 2020 Reopening Plan with this plan for Fall 2021 instruction, which will take effect on August 16, 2021.
Based on the rapid improvement in COVID-19 numbers, in Fall, 2021, the College will be able to advance directly to Phase 3 of the York College Reopening Plan. Phase 3 provides for expanded on-site work and classes, up to 75% of normal College density. Pursuant to the Reopening Plan, Library Access will be limited to front desk services, without student access to stacks or other areas. Computer Laboratory Access will be limited to 50% capacity. Dining Facilities will remain closed at this time. Elevators will continue to be operated with strict social distancing rules in place, with priority access for the disabled. (See Reopening Plan, p. 2)
Except where otherwise indicated, the College will continue to adhere to the September, 2020, York College Reopening Plan.
The York College Office of Academic Affairs conducted a review of courses currently being provided in remote format. A decision was made to leave all online-asynchronous courses unchanged, to minimize disruption to students who had opted for courses in that format. The remaining online-synchronous courses were tentatively placed into rooms of appropriate occupancy, as determined by the York College Buildings & Grounds Office. Each department Chair was given the list of the courses and the tentative room assignments. The Chair then discussed these tentative room assignments with faculty to determine the modality of the course (e.g., in-person, hybrid, or “Hyflex,” a form of enhanced hybrid instruction, discussed below). Feedback was then sent by the Chairs to the Provost and the schedule of classes modified by the Registrar. As a result of this process, 68% of sections will be offered in-person/hybrid/Hyflex in Fall 2021.
The York College Office of Information Technology is currently deploying and retrofitting technology-equipped rooms to adopt the minimum technological standards for Hyflex. One auto-tracking instructor camera is being placed at the back of the room. This camera is capable of zooming in and auto-tracking the professor’s movement around the classroom, and capturing the professor’s interaction with the student(s) on-premises. A display is installed in the front of the class so on-premises students can see the remote students as well. Additional displays are installed in the rear of the class so the instructor can see the remote students. Microphone array technology allows both the instructor and on-premises student(s) to be heard by remote students, and sound technology will allow both in-person and remote students to effectively participate in classroom discussion. Document cameras are also being installed in some science labs.
The College will provide training to students regarding proper hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing protocols, and personal protective equipment. In addition, faculty are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to move instruction to outdoor space, wherever possible.
Students who self-identify as vulnerable in light of the COVID-19 pandemic will receive academic guidance for course selection to ensure all courses are taken online; students registered with the Office of Disabilities will receive guidance and assistance through that office (See Reopening Plan, pp. 14-15; 36-37).
During the pandemic, the College has provided support to its students in a variety of areas, providing services remotely in areas including financial support, advising, medical and mental health support; see the Resources For Students webpage for additional details. The College will continue to provide these supports in both remote and in person (by appointment) format in Fall 2021.
All College administrative offices will implement a schedule to establish a minimum 60% in-person presence on campus (i.e., at least three days in-person); this provision is intended to be inclusive of all employees of the College other than faculty. Administrators have been asked to assess the operational needs of their offices to identify duties which must be prioritized for in-person work, such that schedules and assignments may be adjusted to ensure that all operational needs will be satisfactorily addressed. In so doing, Administrators must also consider the challenges created by the creation of “hybrid teams,” and should consider how best to approach grouping and scheduling to maximize office efficiency; notwithstanding this, it is presumed that most group meetings will continue to be conducted remotely to maximize social distancing, even when individuals are working on site. Administrators are authorized to consider adjustments to schedules, including staggered shifts, modified office layouts, extended hours, use of outdoor space, and other adaptations in accord with the CUNY Flexible Work Guidelines to minimize office density while implementing a 60% in-person presence.
The College will continue to provide training to employees regarding proper hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing protocols, and personal protective equipment (See Reopening Plan, p. 9). Signage will be posted, consistent with NYS Department of Health guidance, to remind employees about social distancing, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, and cleaning guidelines (See Reopening Plan, p. 5).
Employees who may be at heightened risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation (e.g., to work a flexible schedule or remotely). Employees who have concerns about returning to work onsite for other non-disability reasons (e.g., childcare, health of others in their household) may be eligible for other options (e.g., FMLA, leaves of absence, use of annual leave). Such non-disability accommodation requests are also known as “general accommodation” requests. Current employees seeking an accommodation, general or medical, should contact the Office of Human Resources, which will carefully review all requests on a case-by-case basis in accordance with applicable Federal, state and local law. (See Reopening Plan, p. 14).
Employees are also strongly recommended to reach out to the University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, CCA Inc., to seek assistance with any personal difficulties they are facing related to their return to in-person work. Information about CCA Inc. may be found in the CCA Brochure.
The College will continue to implement comprehensive cleaning and disinfection standards in accord with CDC and NYS Department of Health guidance, with specific requirements for laboratories and classrooms, computer laboratories, library, bathrooms, food pantry, dining areas and entrances. (See Reopening Plan, pp. 12-13; 15-18) The York College Buildings & Grounds department has conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the needs of various spaces in the College, working in collaboration with directors and chairs, to identify and execute space modifications as necessary to ensure appropriate social distancing measures may be carried out:
- Signs and floor decals requiring that occupants maintain 6’-0” social distance are provided in all shared spaces.
- Excess movable chairs and tables have been removed to limit gathering at waiting and cafeteria dining locations.
- Paging systems will also be employed at high volume, student facing offices to prevent lines from forming.
- Signage and decals are being used to designate usable seating in areas with fixed furniture.
- Plexiglas barriers are being provided at locations where desks/counters expose occupants to high foot traffic.
The Buildings & Grounds department is currently replacing air filters at air handling units to MERV 14 where possible, with increased outside air mix. In addition, the College is installing UV lights at air handlers to purify the air. Enhanced cleaning protocols will also be implemented, utilizing state of the art, electrostatic cleaning machines, to periodically sanitize all classrooms, restrooms and other higher volume areas.
Campus community members will be able to make a report regarding concerns over the implementation of College Coronavirus safety protocols, either in person, at a dedicated kiosk located near the main entry of the Academic Core Building, or via electronic submission online. Data regarding such complaints will be maintained via customer service software that logs, tracks, maintains records and allows for follow up and resolution of any issues.
Testing and Vaccination
In accord with University policy, the College will no longer require daily screening or use of the Everbridge application for persons arriving to campus in-person. Persons exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are expected to stay home until symptoms subside and/or a negative COVID-19 status can be confirmed. All College points of entry are staffed by Public Safety officers, who are stationed behind plexiglass shields. All persons entering campus are required to have completed the COVID-19 Safety Training before entering campus.
Individuals identified as COVID-19-positive on campus will be isolated in the “CitizenshipNOW” area in the Academic Core Building Atrium, and appropriate medical professionals will be consulted to determine next steps (See Reopening Plan, pp. 21-22, 29-31). Upon learning of a positive COVID-19 case on campus, the Campus Coronavirus Coordinator will ensure that the State and local health departments are informed, and will consult with CUNY to determine appropriate next steps for the College (See Reopening Plan, pp. 29-31).
The College will adopt and adhere to CUNY policies as adopted by the University regarding additional testing for COVID-19 and/or vaccination status. Although policies to govern testing and vaccination remain pending, the College will require all unvaccinated individuals to participate in CUNY’s weekly surveillance testing program. For unvaccinated individuals, continued access to on-campus activities will be contingent on regular submission of a negative test. Testing may include testing for cause in response to exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 infection, or random or group testing (including of those vaccinated) in response to elevated COVID-19 rates in the community. Procurement will be through a CUNY-approved vendor, and notice of test results will be coordinated by the College COVID liaison and/or coordinator.
Notwithstanding the adoption of any such policy, the College strongly encourages all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated prior to resuming in-person presence on campus. The College will utilize its various avenues for communication with the College Community to strongly encourage eligible members of the community, in particular faculty, to get vaccinated as a key component for accelerating the return to in-person campus activities (See Reopening Plan, pp. 22-23).
Social Distancing and Public Health Compliance
Beginning August 16, 2021, only unvaccinated persons on site must adhere to public health precautions regarding social distancing (See Reopening Plan, pp. 4-6). Until otherwise provided, a six-foot social distancing requirement will be enforced in all areas for unvaccinated individuals. Social distancing markers will be utilized in areas where individuals commonly congregate or form lines, as well as to indicate bi-directional foot traffic lanes where appropriate. Should the University adopt further relaxed social distancing standards, the College will amend its practice in accord with the University.
Non-essential gatherings will continue to be restricted.
The College will continue to require that all persons on site must adhere to public health precautions regarding hygiene (See Reopening Plan, pp. 7-10). Appropriate face coverings will continue to be required in all indoor public areas or any time two or more individuals are unable to maintain six feet of separation. Masks will not be required in outdoor spaces, with the exception of large, congregate settings. The College will maintain a supply of face coverings to provide to students, faculty and staff as needed, although individuals will be allowed to use their own, appropriate face coverings as well.
Shared food and beverages (e.g., “buffet-style” meals) continue to be prohibited. (See Reopening Plan, p. 16)
Hand hygiene stations will be provided throughout the College, and maintained with soap, warm water, and paper towels. (See Reopening Plan, p. 12)
Hand sanitizer stations will be provided at all points of entry to the College and throughout the College on wall mounts and/or on freestanding poles. (See Reopening Plan, p. 18)
The College will utilize cleaning products identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as effective against COVID-19. (See Reopening Plan, p. 13)
The College will adhere to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and New York State Department of Health, and maintain logs of cleaning and disinfection, including date, time and scope of cleaning. (See Reopening Plan, p. 15)
The York College Child Care Center remains subject to guidance and requirements from the New York City Department of Health, which supersedes the terms of this plan; as of the date of this plan, the guidance provides for full in-person operation.
During the Fall 2021 semester, the College will prioritize in-person instructional activities over all other activities, given the space constraints associated with social distancing. As a result, it is anticipated that most extracurricular activities will remain in a remote format, both to limit unnecessary physical interaction and to maximize space and resources for the purpose of instruction. Groups that wish to hold in-person activities will be required to submit a request to the Department of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs for approval; such requests will be required to include provisions to ensure appropriate social distancing measures are enforced, in accord with then-current University standards. Groups approved for in-person assembly will be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to use outdoor space where possible.
A separate Reopening Plan for Athletics has been submitted by York College and approved by the University.
Contingency Plan for Shutdown
The College will continue to monitor a number of internal and external factors to determine whether the current COVID-19 environment merits a reversal of the current reopening process. The primary internal criteria triggering such an evaluation is based on New York State guidance, asking that schools begin the discussion when the lesser of 100 individuals or 5% of the total on-campus population (inclusive of students, faculty and staff) test positive during a rolling 14-day period. External criteria that will be monitored include Federal, State and City regulatory guidelines and mandates; infection/health system status at the local, state, regional and nation-wide level; status of resources and infrastructure to combat contagion; compliance of the greater public with COVID-19 protocols; and reclosing status of neighboring universities. Any final decision on closing part or all of the campus will be made by the Chancellery/COO’s office, in consultation with local and State authorities.
Communication with The College Community
The College will continue to communicate policy and protocol updates to the College Community through a variety of avenues, coordinated by the President’s Office (See Reopening Plan, pp. 22-23). Included in this outreach will be regular messages encouraging students, faculty and staff to become vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
A copy of the York College Reopening Plan is currently posted conspicuously on the College’s web site, and a copy of this Fall 2021 will likewise be posted on that site. Copies of each will also be made available to students, faculty and staff at the College.
York College Coronavirus Officers
York College Coronavirus Campus Liaison: Dana Trimboli
York College Coronavirus Campus Coordinator: Claudio Lindow