John Jay Anticipates its Fall 2021 Reopening

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New Building, 2018 (Fatima Moien)

Kimberly Cuenca, Writer

Students, staff, and faculty of John Jay College are eagerly waiting for the final word on what campus will look like for the Fall 2021 semester.

Although there’s a definite yes in place for Bloodhounds to return to campus this Fall, it’s conditional. Students will return at a sixty percent capacity and must have gotten the COVID-19 vaccination.

Interim Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Flower said in a recent interview, “I would encourage anyone who has not been vaccinated to consider getting it done because not only are you protecting yourself but you’re protecting the community you are in as well.”

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said he will send out an update concerning exemptions via email.

To return in the Fall, students that do not want to be vaccinated will have to know their options. 

Flower said, “CUNY has put in place a mandate for students but for faculty and staff it is not mandated at this point. You can still attend CUNY but you can only do so online unless you are exempt from the vaccine.”

As this message comes, New York City as a whole is seeing much success with vaccinations. 55.2% of New Yorkers are now vaccinated, a number that would mean 19.8 million New York State residents have received some type of COVID-19 vaccine with 9.6 million being fully vaccinated.

A CUNY-wide survey sent out on March 25, asked the following questions: how comfortable students would be returning to campus, would they want to take a hybrid course, or if they would like to be fully remote another semester?

Some students are eager to return to campus after the year-long wait.

Karina Olea, a rising senior, mentioned not being afraid to go back to campus in the Fall, however, is excited. 

Victoria Modelski, a rising junior, is excited as well but hopes there will be more Psychology courses. “I was about to take classes I had never heard of just so I could go back to school but a few days later we were told there would be more classes added soon,” she said.

As the Interim Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Flower said, “I have been vaccinated so I feel much more secure and protected. I am looking forward to going back to some sense of normalcy.”

When it comes to being back on campus Flower has given a lot of insight into what is to come. Concerning testing, Flower said, “Before the mandate, the central office was talking about mandatory testing on campus or random testing on campus.”

“We are going under the assumption that this is still the case, if you are vaccinated we will set your ID cards so that you are able to come in through any entrance on the campus. If you choose not to disclose your vaccination process or not vaccinated then we will have you go to the 59th street entrance, get screened, and potentially tested there as well,” Flower said.

Student spaces in John Jay might have to be accessed differently. 

“The assumption is that when we return the CDC will change their social distancing requirements to 3 feet,” Flower said. “CUNY is assuming that will take place, when that happens we will be able to go back to normal capacity in the building so the library, the cafeteria, the computer labs will be open as normal.”

Flower added “what we would like to do though is have everyone swipe in for contact tracing purposes. We’ll know who was on campus that day so if someone reports positive and you’ve been exposed to the person for more than 10 minutes we would notify you to get tested or lookout for symptoms.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has approved anyone who is fully vaccinated to stop wearing a mask in certain spaces such as outdoors.

However, Flower said, “I think it is up to CUNY but as of right now we’ll still require masks because you don’t know who has been vaccinated and who’s not and it’s going to be tough to distinguish between who is and isn’t allowed.”

Additionally,” the other thing we are thinking about doing is we want to hire students as student aids to kind of patrol hallways and monitor elevators to try and maintain social distancing. There will be more to come on that,” Flower said. 

The CDC also recommends new air filters which CUNY is on top of.

Flower said “They recommend a minimum of a MERV 13 filter, so we’re putting in MERV 13 filters in Haaren Hall, and we are putting in MERV 14 filters in the New Building. We are trying to do what the CDC says to do if not more. They say to clean high traffic surfaces at least on a daily basis so we are hiring additional custodial staff to do so. Although classrooms won’t be cleaned in between each class period, we will provide wipes in each classroom if you would like to wipe down your desk. Bathrooms will be cleaned at least 4-5 times a day.

“We will send out an important announcement. We want to make sure you feel comfortable coming to campus so that you’re not feeling forced to come back but that you want to,” said Flower.