Arts and Sciences Updates

Sept. 2 Update -- Fall Quarter Planning and the Pandemic - Where we are now

September 2, 2021

Dear Arts & Sciences Community,

Hello everyone, I write to provide the latest information I have available around the pandemic and preparations for Fall. I am adding new updates to previous updates. This makes for a long email but keeps everything together. Again, impermanence surrounds us. The key sections today are an official email from the Provost, a status report from the Law School and some other general notes.

The Provost's Office sent out an email around 4:28 pm this afternoon, Sept 2nd. Please look at that, it should be in your email but is also attached here: )9-02-21 Provost Message (PDF)

Notes from the Law School Experience: Law is in week 2 of in-person instruction. Dean Annette Clark spoke to all the Deans about how it's going, here's what she said:

Only two positive cases in the law school so far, one student and one faculty member.

However, many more students than that end up getting screened out by the Safe Start program, resulting in some adaptations.

  1. They are reminding students that if they are experiencing symptoms due to known issues (e.g., congestion due to allergies), they do not have to report those symptoms. However, the common cold can result in a denial from Safe Start, so there is a need to support students whom the university does not allow to come to class/campus.
  2. Thus, the Law School is now recording all class lectures in cases where students cannot attend due to Safe Start restrictions. This was a strong request from law students. We are now having conversations about how we can do this for all classes, for students who miss class due to Safe Start denial, not for general absences.

The Law School did a lot of work getting the last few students to register their vaccination status, calling the last 35 on the phone. They did not sense resistance to vaccination, just that students didn't check email and "hadn't gotten around to it." That number dropped to 8 by the first day of class. A group from student affairs and I were successful in getting the university to send out a text to all non-law students last week, that resulted in a dramatic increase in student reporting (which involves turning in formal documents, see earlier email below).

Mask adherence has been very high across the board.

Students wanted clear guidelines about other students drinking and eating as safely as possible in class. They wanted faculty to make it clear that when drinking occurred in class (or eating if allowed), it was done with minimal taking off of masks.

They recommend reminding people to fill out the Safe Start form, recall from the Provost's note that faculty can ask to see the Safe Start form, everyone must be approved to come to campus daily.

We are following CDC guidelines (here) about when to quarantine and when it is not necessary. Quarantine and testing requirements now vary based on whether a person is vaccinated, which has created some confusion.

If faculty, staff or students are exposed to or contract COVID, they should first contact Public Safety at covid-19-report@seattleu.edu and not try to reach out to recent contacts directly. If a student reports a case/contact to you, help them email Public Safety. Public Safety has a trained and experienced team for contract tracing and notification. It is important that it be done correctly and carefully, following state and federal guidelines.

Dean Clark pointed out the need for continuous communication, so we'll keep doing that.

Other Points:

  • The key goal is to support a safe in-person classroom experience, so we have moved all large college gatherings to be virtual. We will continue this approach through the fall.
  • The Dean’s office will reach out to departments around faculty/staff who have not yet responded to the multiple email reminders to register their vaccination or exemption. This is very important given the timeline for vaccination for the Fall Quarter. You can expect to hear from Maria Bullon-Fernandez or Kevin Krycka if any of the non-responders are in your department program.
  • I am generally supporting FlexWork plans ranging from 1 - 5 days on campus per week in CAS. The extremes in that range (coming in every day or only coming in 1 day per week) are rare and either of those should include clear rationale; the average is 3 days per week. The final approval will rest with the Provost's Office and HR.
  • We are working on an easy, consistent and recognizable way to post in-person and virtual availability across the college as all students return to campus. More on that soon.
  • The President's Inauguration is still planned to be in person Sept 24, please RSVP and come but bring your vaccine cards and your mask; Benaroya Hall staff check vaccine cards for every single person coming in.
  • Documentation of vaccination is now required for faculty and staff, please add that if you haven't yet, it involves uploading a photo of your vaccination card.
  • We still don't have more information on adding air filtration to office spaces that need it, as we have with classrooms. We continue to advocate for this, next at the Friday Emergency Operations Meeting which have been started up again.
  • Vaccines and Masks make a huge difference. Please get vaccinated if you can. It's the safest way to take care of others and yourself. The Provost's message notes that 89% of full-time faculty (which includes a number of recently hired faculty who have not had an opportunity register their vaccination status), 89% of staff, and 80% of students are now fully-vaccinated. The science clearly indicates that those of us who can get vaccinated should do so, to take care of others if not ourselves, especially to help protect those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons or age. The university allows religious exemptions along with health exemptions. Those are the two allowable reasons not to be vaccinated as an employee or student at Seattle University.

Thank you all again for your continued work to support our students and each other in this most challenging time.

Best,

David