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University Message

President Armstrong: Updated Plans for Fall Quarter

A shot of Cal Poly's entrance with flags.

This message originally appeared as an email to the campus community that was sent out on Tuesday, March 2.

Dear Campus Community,

Recently, Provost Jackson-Elmoore sent information to the faculty about our plans for the fall quarter. I would like to bring the rest of the Cal Poly community up to date as well. Our expectation for the fall is to return to a situation that is as close to "normal" as is safe, complies with public health guidelines and is in alignment with CSU policies.  We anticipate the vast majority of classes will meet face to face (with normal to slightly adjusted physical spacing) and campus housing at close to normal capacity. Please know that this expectation assumes that vaccines will be readily available for all who choose to be vaccinated.

Priority number one is keeping the campus community safe and healthy, while delivering on our academic mission. Again, it is a working assumption of our plans that vaccines will be available to everyone in the community before fall quarter begins and that the vast majority of the community, including students, will be vaccinated. We urge every member of the community to get vaccinated when it is your turn. Masks and other personal protective steps may still be necessary. Obviously, if these public health standards are not achieved, we will adjust appropriately.

While widespread vaccinations remain our goal, if there are any students who have not received a vaccination for whatever reason, they will be required to be tested regularly next fall, similar to the current requirements. Please note that health conditions and the prevalence of the virus in fall, may still warrant testing of all students – regardless of vaccination status. We will use a badge access approach (through Qualtrics) such that students will be required to present proof of vaccination or proof of negative tests twice per week in order to be on campus. Details about public health requirements, including the exact frequency of testing for students, will be determined closer to the start of the fall quarter.

In addition to keeping everyone safe, our plans for fall quarter also call for being respectful of members of the community who cannot return to the usual way of doing things by September. We will continue to be mindful of their unique circumstances and work to make accommodations if possible. As has been our practice, students who cannot or choose not to attend an in-person class will be accommodated to the extent possible. These accommodations may differ between colleges and, of course, not all classes will be delivered virtually.  We will continue to work with students on an individual basis to find alternative solutions, provide advising assistance and do our best to help them stay on track for graduation. Registering with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and using their services will remain one option for students seeking accommodations.

We are beginning to develop our campus repopulation plans, which will be informed by the evolving circumstances of the pandemic (we will seek to provide employees flexibility where possible). As we gain clarity on these plans, Human Resources and Academic Personnel will work with employees and their supervisors to assist with work-related accommodation requests. We are in the process of planning for staff to return to work on campus once vaccines are available to them and it is safe to do so.  We do not anticipate major shifts in employees being required to return to campus until later in the spring quarter at the earliest and then only if prevalence of infection rates drop and responsibilities require additional personnel on campus. Classes that are scheduled for virtual delivery will not be changed to in person modality during the spring quarter.  Cal Poly will continue to honor the obligations through our existing MOU with the CFA in relation to repopulation in the spring quarter. Again, we will share more information in the near future.

At this time, we will not require state employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of maintaining employment. However, as noted previously, we do encourage all employees and students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are deemed eligible, and the vaccine is available in their local area.

Any impacts related to changes in working conditions will be discussed through the meet and confer process with our unions.

The coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. This is emphatically not the time to let our guard down or relax our commitment to keeping everyone safe. During the end of winter quarter and the spring quarter to come, social distancing, wearing masks 100% of the time if possible, handwashing and frequent testing are still all that stands between us and an increase in cases. Continued vigilance during winter and spring will allow us to continue our return to a new normal.

Students, we will have specific requirements for the transition from winter virtual finals, break and return for the spring quarter.  Additional details will follow in the coming days.

Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard, and sacrificed so much, to keep yourselves and each other safe.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong