Updates Regarding Fall 2021
A message from Stephanie Browner, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Tokumbo Shobowale, Executive Vice President for Business and Operations
With the current semester already past the halfway point and our second virtual commencement approaching, we wanted to take a moment to pause and say thank you. Your work this past year has been inspiring to see, and your ongoing dedication to this university and its students is deeply appreciated. It cannot be overstated that this has been a challenging year on many levels, and your perseverance and commitment through this uncertainty is admirable.
We also write today to share some important updates about the fall semester and our planned return to campus. While we are very much looking forward to seeing colleagues and students again, we know that everyone has many questions about our precise plans and the logistics behind safely reopening the campus.
Last week, faculty received the information below about our work to enhance health and safety protocols in a message about our preparations for on-campus teaching and learning. Going forward, we will be sure to provide return to campus updates to faculty and staff at the same time.
While our plans are evolving in response to the situation on the ground, we can share the following:
- Our Facilities Management team has been updating our physical campus due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Our current health and safety protocols, including ventilation, cleaning, and sanitizing protocols, are on our website.
- For Fall 2021 in preparation for a full, safe return to campus, Facilities Management is undergoing a detailed study of every HVAC unit on campus, focused on air exchanges and filtration. This new study builds on work completed during the last year for areas where students, staff, and faculty have been on-site and expands the review across all campus spaces. It is being conducted by industry experts in HVAC design and filtration and advised by knowledgeable New School faculty members. The goals of this study are to:
- identify and update the appropriate number of air exchanges for every space on campus;
- identify corrective courses of action to meet appropriate levels;
- ensure that all HVAC equipment is using the highest level of air filtration based on CDC recommendations, industry standards, and original equipment designs.
- Facilities Management is also researching safety protocols for elevator use across our campus and will develop guidelines for occupancy.
- We are closely following the evolving guidance from public health agencies and industry associations including the CDC, NYC Test & Trace Corps and other government agencies, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Additionally, we are in frequent collaboration with the NYC Colleges and Universities COVID Coordination Council to share best practices, resources, and public health guidance.
- While some staff will return to campus in the fall, those with disabilities are encouraged to request an accommodation from Human Resources as soon as possible in accordance with university policies and procedures.
The university’s COVID Coordination Group (CCG), chaired by Tokumbo Shobowale, is leading out all of this work. The CCG was established and charged with developing recommendations for the university’s return to campus. More information about this group can be found on our website.
In addition, as a reminder, here are some important upcoming communication dates:
- By June 1: The decision to have teaching and learning on campus will be affirmed or revised. If necessary, we will enact pivot plans for more online and blended offerings. Details about contingency planning can be found here.
- By July 15: Details regarding protocols (e.g., testing, masks, and vaccination) for on-campus teaching, learning, events, etc. will be finalized. They will follow all city, state, and national policies and will be updated throughout the semester as necessary.
We will continue to write with updates about our plans. Please also be sure to continue checking the university’s COVID-19 Community Guide for updates, which includes an FAQ that will be regularly updated with additional information about our return to campus.
As ever, we are grateful for all that you do to make The New School the vibrant place that it is, and we are very much looking forward to reconnecting in person in the fall.