Academic Senate discusses in-person return, COVID-19 updates

By Samantha Padilla, Mar. 1, 2022

During its first meeting of the semester Feb. 16, Cal Poly Pomona’s Academic Senate addressed spring 2022 return to campus in-person and how the campus will continue following COVID-19 guidelines.

After having the first three weeks of the spring semester fully remote, the university resumed its in-person classes on Feb. 12. Although some students and faculty expressed concern about the return to campus, Iris Levine, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, explained the decline in COVID-19 rates in the academic meeting on Wednesday.

“Campus positivity rate continues to gradually decline; however, with the increase in campus density, we will continue to monitor this carefully,” Levine said. “We believe our health and safety measures on campus will keep our campus safe.”

On Feb. 15, the rate — which is a seven-day average of positive tests at the campus’ Public Health Testing site —was 2.16%. As of Feb. 24, the rate was down to 0.50%.

As COVID-19 cases are rapidly decreasing, Los Angeles County lifted its outdoor mask mandate for K-12 schools and mega-events on Feb. 16. On Feb. 25, the county also eased its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated residents.

Nicholas Von Glahn, vice chair of the Academic Senate, discussed this concern with the committee. Thus, several other senate members showed concern regarding how the CPP community would go about the lifted outdoor mask mandate during its return to campus spring semester.

University President Soraya M. Coley, who was also at the meeting, said, “I do hope that we can get to some coherent and justifiable rationale for going one way or another.”

Von Glahn responded by expressing his thoughts on the lifted mask mandate, “My personal stance is, I hope we continue to mask for this semester, regardless.”

As of now, the university will continue following LA County guidelines and persist in wearing face masks on campus.

Some students are also concerned about the lifted mask mandate, especially if LA County would ultimately lift the mask mandate during the return to campus.

“I feel as if I would be a bit scared at first, obviously because it’s been a while since we’ve been indoors without a mask,” said Richard Arce, a sociology student. “But I would probably just still wear my mask just for my own protection, but if that’s what they call to do, then I won’t judge anyone if they don’t wear their mask.”

In other business, the Academic Senate meeting covered other matters such as academic programs.

“Given a number of changes in the Department of Education last year to consider program modality in significant ways over the last several months, program modality is defined by the Department of Education and is approved by WSCUC,” said Levine. “There are two gap categories of modality on-site. Most of the curriculum is offered in face-to-face instruction, distance, meaning that the curriculum includes significant offerings of online instruction because of how modality is measured starting in fall 2022.”

WSCUC approved undergraduate programs as “distance” programs. Following that, graduate programs were also approved by WSCUC and are in the process of being offered “on-site” and in the procedure of becoming hybrid or fully online.

The senate meeting also discussed the university’s plan to decrease enrollment rates for incoming freshman and transfer students to provide more stability.

The next Academic Senate meeting is scheduled for March 9.

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