It is August, school is back in session. Deaf Vee Journal has reached out to multiple colleges and universities across the country, and we have connected with additional faculty and staff from other institutions to discuss protocols that have been outlined in response to the uptick of the Delta strain of Coronavirus [COVID-19]. The pandemic has ruled most of our lives, through the last year and a half, many universities have been itching to go back to in-person sessions.
Gallaudet University (Washington, District of Columbia)
Gallaudet responded to Deaf Vee through social media and in an email, detailing several steps that they have taken to protect their students, faculty, and staff through their policies. In an email, Robert Weinstock, their Public Relations Director, shared with Deaf Vee that Gallaudet continues to follow federal and local guidelines. Gallaudet had initially introduced a color-coded mask policy but because District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser imposed new indoor mask requirements effective Saturday, July 31, 2021, at 5:00 AM EST, Gallaudet listened to the DC mayor and adapted to the order, updating their status to Yellow.
Gallaudet also mandates that community members must be vaccinated or have an approved medical or faith-based waiver before stepping foot on the campus. They have asserted that everybody who comes onto the campus must complete a health assessment and be either waived or have proof of vaccination.
Weinstock also shared, Gallaudet has redesigned their instructional spaces, academic support units (i.e., classrooms, meeting rooms, science laboratories, computer laboratories, offices), adjusted class sizes, and more. All academic (and other high-traffic) buildings have had dedicated entrances and exist since the beginning of the pandemic, masks and hand sanitizers are also available across the campus and are supplied everywhere. Weinstock commented that Gallaudet University’s custodial services staff works very hard to ensure cleanliness at all times, they also have students who serve as peer ambassadors to help ensure that their peers are safe and remain safe.
If you are curious about additional protocols and precautions that Gallaudet has adopted during the time of the pandemic, check out their website by clicking the link below: https://www.gallaudet.edu/about/return-to-campus/.
Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf (Rochester, New York)
RIT/NTID appears to be moving a little bit slower than Gallaudet, lagging in updating their website and other proactive approaches as COVID-19 public mandates have been changing due to the uptick of the Delta strain. Although RIT stopped doing health screenings as of July 7, 2021, they do have a comprehensive website dedicated to being “RIT Ready,” which is their collection of protocols and policies in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Susan Murad of NTID/RIT has responded to Deaf Vee Journal and stated that NTID is following all protocols as set forth by RIT. “These protocols can and will be modified as circumstances warrant.” (Murad)
According to their “RIT Ready” page, RIT states that faculty who are working remotely are encouraged to return to campus. If faculty decide to move forward with working remotely, their supervisors must be consulted.
RIT students are being mandated to vaccinate before coming to the Henrietta campus for the Fall semester in 2021 with the deadline to submit proof of their full vaccination by August 1, 2021. Community members are also required to follow all protocols set forth by RIT when coming onto campus.
Keuka College (Keuka, New York)
Keuka College’s Dr. Chris Alterio, Founding Dean of Keuka College’s School of Health and Human Services and chair of the College’s Reopening Task Force responded to Deaf Vee Journal and shared a few things about the action plans that have been put in place. He began by explaining that where Keuka College is, in Yates County, which is an area that has been identified as “low COVID-19 transmissibility.” based on COVID-19 statistics that are provided by CDC. Keuka College is also committed to monitoring their “status daily and is following all CDC Guidelines”. (Alterio)
Alterio explained that Keuka College has a “Reopening Task Force” that is comprised of a cross-campus representation of faculty and staff; this group monitors and gathers
COVID-19-related information and reports to the Executive Cabinet of the
For Keuka College, it is a top priority to provide face-to-face instructions. If a faculty member wants to request to work remotely, that is a decision that is handled at the Divisional level. “Under normal operations, very few classes are delivered remotely. The ability to pivot a
standard face-to-face class to remote instruction is not at the sole discretion of
the faculty, and is generally only undertaken in response to emergency declarations made by the College and in consultation with campus stakeholders as appropriate to the situation.” (Alterio)
Keuka College will require all students and employees to complete COVID-19 vaccinations for the 2021-22 academic year and provide documentation by Aug. 13, 2021. Keuka College vaccine requirements also state, “Students who are not fully vaccinated, who do not apply and qualify for an exemption, and/or do not present vaccination documentation will be administratively withdrawn after Sept. 29, which is 30 days after the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. Students risk forfeiture of tuition, housing, or meal plan funds.” (Keuka College Vaccine Requirements) It is necessary to clarify that Keuka College does allow for exemptions on medical and religious grounds along with remote learning students who will not be on campus.
The school has also made arrangements to provide vaccinations on campus and has designated a section of student housing for vaccination/isolation space if needed.
Howard College / SouthWest College for the Deaf (Big Spring, Texas)
Howard College follows the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board when it comes to COVID-19 Protocols. At this time their website has no information about protocols or safety measures that they’ve put in place. They also follow all executive orders issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
As of the publication of this article, Howard College no longer requires the use of masks. They also encourage people to review CDC guidelines and recommendations and make “informed decisions that best suit their personal situation” (Howard College – COVID-19 Protocols)
They do have an “Open Howard College Plan” that according to their website is updated regularly. At this time, the last publication or edit of this document was March 10, 2021.
Ohlone College (Fremont, California)
Ohlone College website shows that the District is required to have a face mask and a method by which to identify vaccinated versus unvaccinated employees. The method of identification will be kept confidential for faculty and staff safety. The COVID-19 Project Manager that was brought on board to coordinate activities is Rob Moore. According to a public statement by Moore, he emphasizes that the buildings that will be occupied have been examined to ensure safety and readiness before the arrival of faculty and staff along with students.
Some of the changes Moore stated had been done include the following, “ Workplaces have been evaluated and have been set up to provide for social distancing and sanitization, with additional Plexiglas barriers installed to maximize worker safety. We are now working on providing the same level of detailed attention to our classrooms, as we look to bring a select group of permitted labs back on campus.” (Moore)
As opposed to the other colleges on this list, Ohlone College does not have a mandated vaccination for COVID-19 to return to campus. They do have several health screening stations that people coming onto campus must use to be properly screened and require masks according to their webpage.
You can find out more about their policies and procedures at their website: https://www.ohlone.edu/return-to-campus
California State University, Northridge (Northridge, California)
California State University, Northridge is a part of “California State University” they joined the University of California in announcing that all CSU and UC campuses are mandating faculty, staff, and students to be immunized against COVID-19 if they intend to return to campus this fall.
They also released a new series of communication called Matadors Forward (Click link in blue) which provides vital information and updates about the upcoming fall semester. It was launched on July 27, 2021. In this link, many expectations are being established. Administrators have also been asked to provide flexibility in scheduling needs of individuals that have caretaker responsibilities to the extent possible, this is done while factoring in the operational needs of the school.
There are a few faculty/staff from varying universities that have responded to Deaf Vee Journal on Twitter to share that they have been given the flexibility to work around their needs. Most of them are excited about returning to work and feel safer with the prospect that their employers are requiring vaccines to return to work both for staff and students.