Photo Credit | Angel Adegbesan
By Asar John
As gradual reopening of schools and institutions across the city is happening, CUNY continues to plan for a “mostly in-person” fall semester, Chancellor Felix Matos-Rodriguez announced in early January.
Even before the plans to carry out a return to mostly physical classes were in place, York College had coordinated “reopening groups” tailored to fit the needs of the few students returning to some lab classes in the Fall 2020 semester. Now, York has developed groups that will examine how they can prepare for reopening this fall.
“The best way we can prepare for the reopening is to have an early flexible strategy so we can react quickly and prepare quickly for a future reopening in the fall semester,” said York College COVID Liaison and Interim Chief Information Officer Claudio Lindow.
According to Lindow, the chancellor required all CUNY campuses to develop a reopening plan, which must then be approved by the Office of Budget and Academic Affairs, which defines how the reopening groups should be broken down. At York, groups that exist compose of Academic Planning, Instruction & Faculty Support, Facility & Environmental Planning, Student Success & Student Facing Area and External Relations & Entities groups. Different members of each group are appointed by President Eanes.
“For example, the Student Success group would make sure that as we make our way back to campus, those student services are available to students in a new reality,” said Lindow, referring to the ways the school has been adapting to the challenges of a remote world by setting up virtual walk-in hours for different campus offices such as IT and Financial Aid.
Lindow says that more information about the reopening plan can be found on the York College website and Student Government Association is also active in the discussions for reopening.
Just a year ago, similar groups existed, but were utilized for dealing with the campus shutdown and facilitating distance learning. These groups then had to be reconfigured for the reopening of campus as the pandemic slows down.
As the university and York College are monitoring the pandemic every step of the way, groups are looking to make sure all students are taken care of with a gradual return to campus. Lindow said that York is in the process of securing technology that would permit professors to teach students that are both in-person and remote and determining which courses should be required for in-person learning.
“Just like the fall and for this spring semester, we’re wondering what courses should be allowed on campus,” said Lindow, noting the selective courses such as Occupational Therapy and other courses that have science labs and a requirement for accreditation. “We’re not reacting, we are planning ahead so we can be ready to get classes going.”
As the pandemic has prompted many conversations centered around mental health, diversity and inclusion, York’s reopening groups make sure these are topics of discussion when it comes to making sure students have their needs met in these areas.
“Members of the different groups include students with disabilities, those from the Counseling Center, and we make sure there’s diversity and inclusion, along with having ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] awareness.”
Lindow says that York is in frequent contact with other CUNY campuses to strategize on how they can develop effective strategies together for each and every campus.
“From the IT [Information Technology] perspective, in the IT student committee meeting, we exchange information and we make sure that [CUNY] Central Office understands the needs that each campus has,” said Lindow.