Provost Bi-Weekly Message 8/31

Sent: August 31, 2021

From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Hi Everyone,

Well, we are definitely back in the swing of things with thousands of students, faculty, and staff back on campus. For some of us, we are starting to realize just what this means for our offices - students are coming around and looking to connect. This includes two years worth of new students, many of whom are having their first on-campus experience at SJSU! 

As we continue our transition, we need to be very mindful of the needs of our students and their interest in connecting with folks in-person. What this means is offices need to be open, students need clear and simple messaging on how to get questions answered, and, if an office staff is remote for all or part of a day, there has to be very clear information (direct telephone number(s) for example) as to how students can get their questions answered quickly.

This may seem obvious, but we also need to answer the phones! Messaging that we prefer emails to phone calls is not an option! We have a system for forwarding phones to computers if that is needed. Take advantage of that immediately. Unresponsive phone calls lead to students who feel disconnected. We also need to take advantage of the web-embedded chat feature available to us for all our success centers. A student’s sense of belonging is a leading factor in their retention. If we don’t respond to students, they will grow frustrated and potentially leave. And, our students have choices. So, please give them the time they need.

I know that everyone remains anxious about the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in our community. As reported, we are still tracking very strong vaccination attestation numbers. During our first week of testing, the positivity rate of our students was 0.45% (that is 5 students out of 1115 tests). No, you did not read that incorrectly, that is ½ of 1 percent. Santa Clara County is still reporting about a 3.3% rate, so we remain significantly below that number. Of the total reported cases of COVID-19 amongst our student community, more than half were students who were not on campus. 

I remain very mindful about the impact of COVID-19 on our community. We will see students, faculty, and staff who test positive on campus this semester. This means that many faculty and staff are juggling the challenges associated with both COVID-19 positive tests as well as students and colleagues who aren’t sure what to do if they suspect they might have COVID-19. Importantly, everyone should use Report a Case if you suspect you are COVID-19 positive, have COVID symptoms and are awaiting a test, or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Our Case Management team can then track and report back out to those who might be affected. This Case Management team will also clear any student for classes; faculty and staff do not need to do this work. 

There is a lot of very positive energy on campus. As I have walked around this past week, I have run into faculty, staff, and students who are thrilled to be back on campus. Our community is coming together for well-planned events. We have also come together to support and protect each other. The mask mandate is working exceptionally well. 

I hope that all of you continue to be safe; one major way to contribute to the wellness of our entire community is to get vaccinated if you have not already done so. And please follow all health and safety protocols that campus leadership has put in place, including, as applicable, COVID-19 testing. I appreciate all the thoughtful questions and concerns that have been sent my way about class safety or events. We are working hard to answer questions as fast as we can.

In the meantime, enjoy the campus. Check out the food choices available again. Pop into a pop up restaurant in the library. Connect with others at a community event. Have a coffee or tea with a colleague and sit on a bench in the middle of campus. Take the time to reconnect. 

All the best,