May 3, 2021
In higher education, the month of May holds significant meaning: it is the last month of the Spring semester, a time of graduation for some, and a welcome vacation for others. This year the symbolism is greater: we have completed one of the most challenging academic years in recent history. I thank each and every one of you for the significant role you played throughout this journey. As the Chancellor noted in his February correspondence, we have built a strong foundation of online and hybrid teaching, thanks to our faculty; we have offered remote student and employee services, thanks to dedicated staff; and we continue to provide essential services on campus through the work of frontline employees, who have been on campus since the outbreak a year ago. Like you, we are looking forward to receiving further guidance from CUNY on reopening plans, and we are optimistic that, given current national trends, we can look forward to a greater in-person presence on campus in the coming Fall, always keeping in mind your concerns and ensuring everyone’s health and safety. As the Fall planning evolves, we will remain flexible as the city, state, and national landscapes are changing daily in response to COVID-19 victories and challenges; therefore, I will keep you informed and part of the solution as we move forward as “One York”.
As part of the preparation, we encourage all students, faculty, and staff who are residents of the State of New York to get vaccinated, which can be done at the FEMA/NYS Mass Vaccination site at York College/CUNY. There are no appointments required. The vaccination site, located in the Health and Physical Education Complex (HPEC), is open 8:00 am – 7:30 pm. There is parking available in the lot directly across from the (HPEC) on Guy R. Brewer Blvd., between Liberty Avenue and Tuskegee Airmen Way. We hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated right on campus or at any one of the State Mass Vaccination Sites.
Claudio Lindow and Dana Trimboli continue to serve as the COVID Coordinator and Liaison, respectively, working directly with CUNY Central. The Reopening Group, consisting of over 40 members of the campus community that includes faculty, staff, student, administration, and labor representatives, is responsible for the decisions related to reopening. Each member of the Reopening Group serves on at least one, but sometimes two, of the committee’s six sub-groups: Academic Planning, Instruction, and Faculty Support; Facilities and Environmental Planning; Student Success and Student Facing Areas; External Relations and Entities; HR/Staff Support; and Communications. The sub-groups meet independently to discuss issues pertaining to their group and provide recommendations to the larger committee.
Even in the midst of the pandemic and shutdown, York continues to serve the College and larger Southeast community by digitally hosting important events, such as the popular Executive Leadership Breakfast series (ELB). Speakers and topics have included York alumnus Hank Sheinkopf, discussing the outcome of the 2020 General Elections, and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who brought an update on the State of the State’s coronavirus shutdown one year later. Most recently, the ELB featured a panel of experts discussing how to survive and thrive in business even during a pandemic. Speakers were members of York’s Foundation Board in non-profits, the Queens Chamber of Commerce (Thomas Grech), Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (Hope Knight); and a small business owner in the York neighborhood (Dawn Kelly). Since February 24 (2021) the college has also served as a mass vaccination site in the fight against the coronavirus. As of this morning, almost 190,000 vaccines have been given out at the York site, located in the Health and Physical Education Complex.
As we march toward the end of the semester and virtual graduation for the class of 2021, I look forward to the day when we can be together again in person. I urge you all to consider your options to vaccinate, continue to wear masks and socially distance, and do our individual parts to keep infection rates low in our communities. Please remember the tremendous emotional toll the pandemic has taken on all of us and the additional sadness that comes with the loss of loved ones; housing, food, and employment insecurities; as well as the disruption in our daily social interactions that we may have taken for granted. The physical and mental health of our students, faculty, and staff remain our priority, and we look forward to the day when we can all safely return to campus.
In an effort to address some of your questions, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the status of our Fall plans and will be holding a Town Hall for the York Community on Wednesday, May 12th at 1 pm. As the environment and guidance evolves, and will continue to do so throughout the summer, we urge you to stay in touch with the latest updates from the College by checking your email often, perusing the website, monitoring the Cardinal app, and/or communicating with your Dean or Department head if you have any questions. In the meantime, stay well and stay safe.
Berenecea Johnson Eanes, President