CUNY students face a chaotic start to the fall 2021 semester


Salman Ahmed | The Ticker

The Editorial Board

Based on the first week of the fall 2021 semester, CUNY’s plan for a smooth transition from fully online to in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic seems to have failed.

Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Myung-Soo Lee sent out an email to Baruch College students about the shifted course modalities on June 17. The email stated that 15% of courses have shifted modalities, meaning that the online, hybrid and in-person status of the classes had changed.

“Mindful of the need for students and faculty to make plans for the coming semester, I would like to assure you that we do not anticipate any further large-scale shifts in the course schedule or in the modalities of scheduled sections,” the email stated.

However, this has not been the case since most Baruch students saw that their in-person classes were moved to online or hybrid forms before and even during the first week of school.

During the first week of school, it was not unusual to stumble upon students who came to campus thinking that their classes were in-person only to find out that they were moved online.

CUNY’s lack of communication about class statuses being subject to change before the semester started contradicted the university’s essential plan for a smooth transition. However, another reason for this change was based on the lack of vaccination proofs uploaded by the students. Some classes that did not have a high rate of vaccination among students had to go online last minute.

CUNY students were notified that they would be required to get vaccinated to attend in-person classes after former New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on May 10.

Even though the formal announcement came months ago, CUNY waited to inform its students about how the university was going to handle the situation until Aug. 4, less than a month before the colleges reopened, with a mass email.

“You can now upload your proof of vaccination in CUNYfirst,” Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez’s email said. “I want to let you know that we are moving the deadline to fulfill this requirement from Aug. 10 to Tuesday, Sept. 14. The decision to extend the deadline was made in order to give students more time to be fully vaccinated and upload their information.”

Looking at this situation at the Baruch campus during the first week of school, it seems like CUNY’s mass emails did not solve the current situation, which is much more complicated than entering the campus with a student ID.

As of now, unvaccinated students have to get tested to enter campus, while vaccinated students have to show proof of vaccination. All students are required to wear masks while inside the buildings.

With the rising hospitalization and infection rates due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, it is understandable that CUNY’s plan for the reopening did not go as planned, however, there is still a lack of organization that is worrisome.

On Aug. 25, there were long lines in front of the testing center at Baruch,  as in front of both entrances of the Newman Vertical Campus.

Students who have online classes in between in-person ones are trying to attend their classes at the campus. However, with the long lines at the library and a serious lack of seating areas within the NVC, it is hard to say that it looks like Baruch has it all figured out.

During these unprecedented times, it is CUNY’s responsibility to communicate about the potential changes in class schedules. Students should be informed about these changes officially by the university, not by receiving an email from their professors a few hours before the classes begin.

Students should also take the information given by the university more seriously, uploading their proof of vaccination to CUNYfirst within the deadlines.

Here are helpful guidelines about CUNY’s current approach and requirements:

To visit any CUNY campus or building, students must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at one of 20 CUNY testing sites in the past seven days.

With full approval from the Food and Drug Administration announced on Aug. 23, the below deadlines are your final opportunity to make sure that you #VaxUpCUNY, stay safe and do not put yourself at academic or financial risk.

The deadline for the first dose of the Moderna vaccine is Aug. 26, the deadline for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is Sept. 2 and the deadline for a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is Sept. 23.

The deadline to upload proof of vaccination documents to CUNYfirst is Sept. 27.