This fall, most classes will be held in person, but Cal Poly faculty were not given much choice on the matter.
Vaccines will be required for all students who will attend classes in person unless they receive an exemption. According to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier, over 91% of students are partially or fully vaccinated and the university saw no cases of transmission from in-person classes last year.
Lazier said that students who receive a medical or religious exemption will be required to take part in twice-weekly surveillance testing. In addition, all students regardless of vaccination status will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of moving in or arriving on campus and must wear masks indoors on campus.
Cal Poly California Faculty Association (CFA) San Luis Obispo President Lewis Call said that since the start of the pandemic, he has spent more of his time dealing with the health and safety issues for faculty.
“I am concerned about my colleagues who will be teaching in person,” Call wrote in an email.
According to Call, much of Cal Poly’s faculty are apprehensive about returning to campus, especially those with children who are too young to be vaccinated.
Another large concern amongst the faculty is about whether or not they will have unvaccinated students and if and how the masking mandate will be enforced.
“There are just so many unknowns,” Call wrote.
According to Lazier, 87% of classes will be in person in the fall. Call said that he thinks the transition to in-person instruction could have been handled better.
Call said that some faculty in the Quarter Plus program may have been exposed to COVID-19 and the University did not notify them of their possible exposure in a timely manner.
Faculty Rights Chair, Neal MacDougall said that the University made the decision this past spring to return to in-person classes in the fall before knowing about the delta variant and without asking for the faculty’s opinion.
“I think the whole motivating character of the University is marketing,” MacDougall said. “It’s all about getting people back, getting students in dorms, getting enough money to pay for things — which I’m not saying is not important – but everything they present is about projecting this idea of going back to the way we were.”
According to MacDougall, over 80% of the College of Agriculture’s courses were planned to be taught online in the fall but the college’s dean changed that and required that classes be in-person.
“Our dean said, ‘No. Parents don’t like it. Students don’t like it and students are next donors and I don’t want to upset them,’” MacDougall said. “He wasn’t asking faculty what they thought.”
Though some professors appealed to the dean to try to teach online, their appeals were overridden and classes are 100% in-person for the fall, according to MacDougall.
“My level of trust in the people who run my college and the university is very low at this point,” MacDougall said.
Despite concerns raised by the faculty, Call said he is cautiously hopeful about the strategies Cal Poly has put in place regarding COVID-19 cases among the vaccinated.
“But [COVD-19 safety protocols] will only work if everyone follows the masking mandate consistently,” Call wrote.