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CFA COVID-19 Message on $2T Stimulus, Summer 2020

Dear Colleagues,

COVID-19 continues to uproot our lives daily. This health crisis is frightening. And I know you are concerned about your families, your students, your communities, and yourselves. I am too. But every day I come to work to advocate for CFA, I am blown away at the stories of triumph over fear and adversity of the 29,000 tenure-line instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches across our 23 CSU campuses. You continue to thrive even with the crisis at hand, and I am beyond proud of all of you.

Last week, Congress passed and the President signed the massive $2 trillion legislative package – the CARES Act – which is the third stimulus since the coronavirus crisis. CFA is analyzing the larger economic impacts of COVID-19 and will bring you updates on those efforts. Though early attempts at including some student loan forgiveness did not make it to the final bill, we wanted to flag an important issue that may affect many of you: student loan relief.

  • The bill allows most borrowers to defer monthly payments through September 30 with zero financial penalties. Interest will be suspended, freezing the borrower’s balance.
  • There will be no garnishment of wages, Social Security, or tax refunds for student loan debt collection.
  • For those of you in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, these months will count as though you made a payment, moving you closer to loan forgiveness.
  • The Department of Education is required to notify borrowers within 15 days of their payments being suspended.

While our faculty have been focused on the many adjustments and changes to our spring semester, questions have also arisen in the past week about Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 terms. The Chancellor’s Office is highly encouraging instruction via virtual or online modalities for the summer. We will be in touch with you all as the situation develops. Like you, we hope that we are back on campuses in the Fall meeting the needs of students and supporting California’s recovery from this pandemic.

Now, there are questions about grades this semester, including questions about offering Credit/No Credit. As faculty, we exercise our professional judgement and academic freedom when we assign grades as we see fit. We encourage folks to use their best judgment, knowing that we have had to adapt and modify our syllabi and grading rubrics in response to COVID-19.

Lastly, CFA offices will be closed tomorrow (March 31) for César Chávez Day, to remember and honor Chávez’s legacy as civil rights and labor leader. Many of us would not be here today, doing the work we do for workers in California, had it not been for the vision and work of César Chávez. He broadened the base of organized labor and changed the way we organize and engage with employers and challenge systems of power and oppression. Chávez’s work not only focused on farmworkers’ rights, but also the larger labor movement by helping workers understand and use their own power in the workplace. You can read some commentary on the holiday, and why tomorrow might offer different meanings to our members due to the coronavirus crisis, here.  Please take the time to safely honor César Chávez and the civil rights and labor movement.

As a reminder, CFA has a website with our COVID-19 resources. I urge you to check the page regularly for updates on the latest information concerning higher education, CSU faculty, and issues relating to our union’s activities around the pandemic. I also urge you to reach out to your chapter president or faculty rights representative for any questions or concerns about your safety, working conditions, and any contract-related issues. You will find the best contacts for our Northern California campuses and Southern California campuses posted on our webpage.

Please be safe, remember to take time for yourselves and your loved ones. Continue to look out for your fellow community members who are the most vulnerable right now. If you haven’t yet become a member of CFA, you can sign up here.

 

Charles Toombs, Ph.D.
President, California Faculty Association
Professor
Department of Africana Studies
San Diego State University

 

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