By Casey Michie
As the vaccination effort offers a hopeful end to the COVID-19 pandemic, City College is tentatively planning a partial return to campus for certain departments during the Fall 2021 semester.
The return to campus, which is not yet solidified in any plan, is constantly evolving and based around various metrics and health guidelines from both the state and city of San Francisco.
At an open forum hosted on April 22, Chancellor Vurdien referenced California’s colored tier reopening plan as a way to measure potential future in-person activities. This plan, however, is set to expire on June 15 by orders of Governor Newsom, more than a month before the start of City College’s fall semester.
When asked about the end of the color tiered plan and what that means for the fall return to campus, Chancellor Vurdien said the June 15 reopening date is not a certainty, stating, “the ending [of the colored tier plan is] predicated on several other metrics that need to reach a certain level.”
The two metrics that must be met for reopening, laid out in the Beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, are listed as, “Equitable vaccine availability: If vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years or older who wish to be inoculated,” and “Consistently low burden of disease: Hospitalizations are stable and low, and specifically, hospitalizations among fully vaccinated individuals are low.”
According to recent data on COVID-19 cases and vaccinations, it seems very likely that these two metrics will be met.
As of last week, California has been reporting the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate of any state in the continental US, according to data from John Hopkins University. This promising trend comes as the state is administering an average of 364,236 vaccine doses a day as reported by the California Department of Public Health.
Vaccine administration across the country is equally encouraging. Data sourced from the CDC and presented by the New York Times vaccine tracker, shows current trends as of April 24 estimate that all Americans over the age of 16 will be at least partially inoculated by July 27, 2021.
A majority of San Franciscans may be inoculated even sooner, as San Francisco far outpaces the rest of the nation in vaccinations. Data sourced from the California Immunization Registry (CAIR2) shows San Francisco leads the national vaccine effort by 19%, with 60% of San Franciscans having received at least one shot, compared to the national average of 41% as of April 24.
These promising trends towards herd immunity indicates the June 15 reopening of California will likely be met. If so, the plan states that “schools and institutions of higher education should conduct full-time, in person instruction, in compliance with Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards and public health guidelines.”
School systems across the state have expressed optimism with the current data, and many expect a full return to campus in the fall.
In an April 6 statement, Chancellor of the California State University (CSU) system Joseph I. Castro said, “As regions throughout California continue to make significant progress in our collective effort to defeat COVID-19, I am increasingly optimistic about the California State University’s ability to return to delivering a majority of classes and activities in person in the fall.”
San Francisco State University, part of the CSU system, expressed optimism about Chancellor Castro’s remarks and announced on their news page that “The CSU expects its campuses (including San Francisco State University) to return to primarily in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester.”
City College, conversely, does not plan on implementing a full return to campus for the fall semester.
Director of Media for City College Rosie Zepeda noted, “[City College] will operate the same way in the summer and fall semesters as we are currently operating now in the spring. However, we are creating a plan to potentially have up to 25% of students come back to campus in the fall.”
Zepeda said that departments that require in-person learning, such as science labs and nursing, will be prioritized over departments that can successfully continue to teach remotely.
Directives from the San Francisco Department of Public Health were cited by Zepeda as the main reason for not implementing a full return to campus. “[City College’s] return to campus has to be approved and evaluated by the [San Francisco] Department of Public Health,” Zepeda said.
Details on which classes may return to campus this fall will be published on May 17, according to an April 15 update from City College.
For more information on City College’s current return to campus plan, visit COVID-19 Updates and Plans to Return to Campus page on the school’s website.