COVID-19: CSU Maritime Victory; Newsom Moves Forward to Re-Open Parts of CA

CFA Maritime Faculty Successfully Advocates for Cancellation of the Summer Training Cruise

An announcement caught California State University faculty at Maritime Academy faculty off guard on April 24. Maritime President Thomas Cropper sent a letter to the campus that there would be a limited reopening of the campus for face-to-face instruction to finish up the spring semester.

On top of that, the President wanted to send more than 270 students and 60 faculty and staff members on its annual summer training cruise. This was against most of, if not all, faculty wishes. So CFA campus leaders stepped up and pushed back to ensure the voices of faculty would be taken into consideration by the administration.

Over this past weekend, President Cropper agreed to cancel the 2020 summer training cruise. Campus leaders and staff said that this decision came after several weeks of labor-management meetings where the CFA Maritime chapter raised concerns about safety conditions and ambiguous planning for the cruise. The Faculty Senate also raised concerns – and the Cruise Committee for COVID-19 Planning voted unanimously to cancel the cruise.

“We are relieved that President Cropper made the prudent decision to follow the advice of faculty and cancel this summer’s training cruise,” said Steven Runyon, Maritime Academy CFA Chapter President. “The international training cruise aboard the Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB) provides students with unique hands on training and an experience that Cal Maritime students remember for the rest of their lives. We hope that a suitable alternative date will be formulated to satisfy graduation and Coast Guard requirements and to carry on this quintessential Cal Maritime tradition.”

But there are still concerns present for CFA Maritime members: the return to campus for face-to-face instruction. CFA campus members also raised those issues in meetings and hope university leadership will drop its initial plans for face-to-face instruction.

“Our efforts at CFA-Maritime Academy continue to focus on the looming plan to return for in-person instruction beginning as early as May 20. There are approximately 500 students (99 graduating seniors) who must complete spring course requirements that cannot be satisfied via remote learning,” said Runyon.  “A majority of faculty, many of whom are themselves in a high-risk category or who have family members at high risk, have expressed extreme concern with the prospect of a premature return to campus.

“As plans are being drafted by campus leadership, CFA chapter leaders are continuing to aggressively insist that faculty perspectives be included in any decisions for a return to campus. We are hoping and expecting that the campus management will appropriately utilize the flexibility afforded by the cancellation of the summer training cruise to include the perspectives of faculty, staff, and students as we navigate the very serious challenges ahead.”

The chapter said it also invited President Cropper to address and answer questions about increased transparency and accountability at a CFA-hosted town hall, which is tentatively scheduled for May 13.

CFA chapters will be gathering input from members about criteria for when is a safe time to restart in-person classes.  CFA is also participating in task force meetings with other unions and the governor’s office about what health and sanitation measures need to be implemented before a safe return to face-to-face teaching and service delivery.

Governor Newsom Offers Guidelines to Re-Open California Counties This Week

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom offered guidelines for how the state plans to move into its next phase in its fight against COVID-19.

California will start allowing a partial reopening of major sectors of the state’s economy this Friday. Of the businesses set to reopen in Phase II – as the Governor’s Office calls it – clothing outlets, bookstores, and florists are allowed to offer curbside pickup (if they obey physical distancing guidelines). Manufacturers specializing in making clothing, furniture, toys, and various other goods can resume operations, too, according to CalMatters.

The Governor’s Office said more details on which specific industries can reopen will be released on Thursday. This marks the first major relaxation of the state’s shelter-in-place order since its implementation back in mid-March. The Newsom Administration has a four-stage recovery plan and guidelines each city and county must meet before moving into each phase.

What about higher education? Details have been scarce in Newsom’s daily press conference on the state of higher education; however, labor unions are beginning to discuss and negotiate with the Governor’s team over how to safely reopen campuses across the state.