CFA Monitoring COVID-19 Response Across CSU

CFA is actively monitoring CSU campus responses to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak.  Our goal is to ensure that the CSU’s 23 campuses develop proactive, safe plans to protect students, faculty and staff during this unfolding public health situation.

At this time (March 11), there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any CSU campus, but some campuses are considering or have decided to suspend in-person classes to help slow or stop the spread of the contagious virus.  As of Wednesday morning, campuses in Chico, East Bay, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, San Diego, San José, and San Francisco have suspended or canceled face-to-face classes. UPDATE: As of 5PM on March 12, the following campuses have also suspended in-person classes: Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernadino, San Marcos, and Stanislaus State.

CFA issued a statement urging campus communities to stay informed, maintain hygiene protocols including frequent handwashing, avoiding contact with sick people, and taking sick leave when appropriate.  CFA President Charles Toombs also released a statement on COVID-19 that provides guidance on faculty working conditions or contractual rights.

“The health and safety of CSU students, faculty, and staff is CFA’s top priority.  We are especially concerned about our coworkers, students, and staff who have vulnerable immune systems, our elderly community members, and our Lecturer faculty who must teach at multiple campuses to cobble together a living wage,” Toombs said. Read the full statement here.

CSU has suspended all system wide study-abroad programs in Italy, China and South Korea, and is banning all international and non-essential domestic travel.  Some campuses are also banning mass gatherings.

Students have just as many questions as faculty and staff about campus responses.

“I understand that the universities have a responsibility to protect a larger community, and I understand that this is a very new situation our communities are dealing with,” said Hayli Antoniewicz, a fourth year women, gender and sexuality studies major at CSU Long Beach and member of Students for Quality Education.  “I appreciate how CSULB will still allow for campus to be open so that students who may not have access to computers or internet or have a campus job to still use the campus resources/job. Personally, and from what I’ve heard from other students since this morning, some questions we have are: What about our overall grades? Exams? Graduation ceremonies? What happens if Zoom servers crash? What about refunds for parking permits and other fees?’ In a way, it feels that everything is unfolding in an expedited manner. I understand that this situation is new for everyone however, it is apparent how unprepared everyone really is. Which makes me extremely anxious. How will this impact our academic experience?”

Events have occurred in some California communities that require rapid responses, and faculty will want to stay tuned to their campus and community communications as developments unfold.  The CSU administration has published a central web page with links to campus emergency plans and updates. We encourage CFA members to look to those plans for operational inquiries.

Other resources include this Q and A for students and parents, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for higher education institutions, and the AFL-CIO’s one-stop spot for information.

The AFL-CIO is also participating in emergency planning to protect all U.S. workers.  Presently, the group is advocating for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to establish an emergency temporary standard that addresses an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from infectious diseases.  Cal/OSHA’s guidelines are here.

Faculty should contact campus administrators and designated individuals on campuses with community-specific concerns.