July 23, 2021

Dear Students,

It was wonderful to see and hear from many students and their supporters who attended our Student Town Halls this week. These discussions were such a great reminder of how much we are looking forward to welcoming you back to our campus and providing you with everything our Channel Islands community has to offer. This is especially true as we return to campus after a year and a half hiatus, and for those of you who have not been physically on our campus yet, I cannot wait for you to experience the beauty, energy, and sense of place that you will experience with us here at CSUCI.

During the Student Town Halls this week, I indicated that mask-wearing was strongly recommended for everyone, but not required for those who were vaccinated. However, I write to you this morning to notify you that effective immediately, mask-wearing is required indoors at CSUCI and affiliated locations (Santa Rosa Island Research Station, Channel Islands Boating Center, Goleta instructional site), except when in a location alone, or when eating or drinking while physically distanced from others. We will re-evaluate this requirement as new information emerges (i.e., public health updates; CSU Vaccination Policy taking effect, etc.). I know that this decision is different from the information shared this week during our Student Town Halls, but out of an abundance of caution, we will be in full alignment with Ventura County Public Health’s strong recommendation that all individuals wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Earlier in the week, I admit that it was not immediately clear to me that the resumption of mask-wearing was simply the right thing for all of us to do – especially when considering the broad availability and effectiveness of the vaccine against COVID-19 and its variants, initial campus data suggesting a high rate of vaccination for faculty, staff and students, and the certification and testing pieces discussed during our Town Halls. However, close listening this week to faculty, staff, and students during our town halls and through separate correspondence convinced me to further reflect and take a deeper dive.

While continuing to advocate vaccination as the obvious long-term answer in achieving herd immunity, it is in the short-term that we need to come together as a campus community to literally take care of each other. I have in mind our employees and students who cannot vaccinate because of medical conditions; I am thinking of those who have young children who are not vaccinated and those who have family members who are significantly immunocompromised. I understand that concerns for these loved ones are layered, logical, and deep. It is through this dialogue, and consultation – in addition to trends we are watching in L.A. County and in the same spirit of Ventura County Public Health’s abundance-of-caution guidance – that we are requiring indoor masks at this time. We will continue to monitor current conditions and updated public health guidance to inform and revise our campus planning and safety protocols moving forward.

Additional updates can be expected as we prepare for the start of the semester; however, please feel free to contact the Dean of Students office and we will direct your inquiry to the appropriate area on campus. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Richard Yao, Ph.D.

Interim President

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