On February 10, 2021, Stan State President Ellen Junn hosted the first Q&A of the spring semester. The meeting was held virtually through Zoom and was open to faculty and students. In this meeting, Junn was able to provide answers on burning questions that revolved around the future of Stan State and how we will navigate the rest of the semester with the current state of the pandemic.
The Q&A began with Stan State student Garret Bryan (freshman, Agriculture) asking Junn what the future of fall 2021 holds. Junn assured that Stan State is in the process of planning the details for the semester.
“Right now, the vaccine is under short supply and the Federal Government is doing the best they can to maximize the production of more vaccines. The trouble is we don't have enough vaccines available, and we cannot open until our health department allows us to. The state of California is still in the purple tier. The difficulty is that all four tiers require that we cannot meet indoors, which means we cannot put students in small classrooms,” Junn explained.
Junn shared that, as of now, her team is looking at classroom capacity to see if Stan State can allow multiple students in a classroom and to what extent. President Junn shares, “We are planning to open depending on which tier we are in. When we do open, it will be limited until we are at the yellow tier or below.”
On the topic of student repopulation on campus, Junn added, “We must take into account which group of students should have earlier access to be back on campus. The committee is now discussing which classes should have priority and which classrooms are safe to put students that are able to sit six feet apart while wearing masks and still continuing to social distance.”
Junn encouraged the campus community to keep the hope that we can be back on campus. She shared that while the committee is working on the future of fall 2021, the committee is in the works of providing some study spaces either distanced out in the library or in other large spaces with chairs and tables properly distanced.
The meeting continued with Faith Weatheral-Block (senior, Sociology) asking if students will be receiving a COVID relief packages this semester as they did last December. Junn answered that the process of the COVID relief packages and which students are able to receive it will be similar.
“Similar to the CARES Act we received earlier [in the academic school year], a chunk of that money was for student aid, specifically about $6.3 million of that money was distributed last spring," Junn explained. "We used a set of formulas to identify the students who suffered from immediate financial crisis. All of that money was sent out. $6.3 million is being computed right now and we hope to get the money out to students directly either through their account or through checks in the next two weeks.”
Junn also mentioned that the Federal Government allocated money just as they did in the first round of funding to campuses all across the United States. “Our campus received around $6.3 million for COVID related expenses to be reimbursed. This includes PPE as well as new laptops and hotspots for students and faculty. The amount has been doubled to something like $15 million and that is going to be used for COVID related expenses, such as additional cleaning, disinfectants, technology, etc.”
There are many projects underway for the reopening of Stan State. The future of the fall 2021 semester is still in the process of planning. Many members of our campus community are anxiously waiting for more clarity. However, as of now, these are our answers.