California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro addressed student questions and topics for the upcoming semester across the CSU campuses during a town hall hosted by the Cal State Student Association.
Castro expressed excitement for the upcoming fall 2021 semester with campuses having classes in-person with vaccinated students. The CSU announced April 22 that it will require faculty, staff and students who will be accessing campus facilities in fall 2021 to receive the COVID-19 vaccination upon the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the vaccine.
“We wanted to create the conditions in which as you come back to campus, you can have that confidence that people have been vaccinated, and if they’re not going to be vaccinated, then there would be some kind of a testing regiment,” Castro said.
Castro also mentioned the current mask requirement in the fall could change as CDC guidelines change and vaccinations increase. He shared that he believes each CSU community should trust in all the vaccines’ legitimacy due to the science behind them.
“It’s really in the best interest of everybody to be vaccinated,” Castro said. “It’s not just us as individuals, but our community. By having a vaccination, we can protect others that we love and respect and want to spend time with.”
Castro acknowledged those who may feel hesitant in receiving the vaccine and said the policy for medical or religious vaccine exemptions is forthcoming, saying he respects those who have “those important exemptions.”
For students who do not wish to get the vaccine and do not have an exemption, Castro said those students would be able to take their courses virtually.
Castro added that the CSU’s policy for requiring the COVID-19 vaccine once it is fully approved by the FDA will allow students who received any vaccine to be in-person no matter which vaccine is approved first.
“With our policy, what we’re looking at is once there is one approved vaccine, if you get one of the other ones, you would be able to fulfill the requirement,” Castro said.
Castro discussed how the CSU will handle the transition back to in-person and on-campus classes.
“I can’t promise that it’ll be 100% smooth, but I can promise you our intention is to make it that way, and to do our best to support the success of our students,” Castro said. “It’s my hope that our faculty and staff will want to lean into supporting all of you in the most effective way possible, and that we’ll all do so with compassion, and flexibility and reasonableness.”
Castro also spoke on the safety of minority groups on-campus and what the CSU plans to do to assist these groups, especially students who distrust the police on campuses.
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“I do understand how some students would feel a little concerned, or even more than a little concerned, about being back, and maybe concerned in general about the police,” Castro said. “What I want every student, faculty and staff member to know is that your safety inside and outside the classroom is vitally important to me and to the whole system. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re there to support you and help you to thrive.”
Castro suggested that students speak with the dean of students on their campus if they feel there may be an issue or potential incident that could affect their community.
Castro emphasized his understanding and continued learning he has done regarding minority groups on campuses and what needs to be done across each campus, as well as his goal as chancellor for these groups.
“I’m listening and learning from those perspectives to see how we can to address those needs the best we can, but my goal as chancellor is to make sure we create an environment on each of the 23 campuses and here at the chancellor’s office where everybody can thrive,” Castro said.
Castro mentioned the promise he made in January regarding not increasing tuition fees or having any more layoffs due to budgetary reasons. Castro said he will be able to fulfill his promise to the faculty and students of the CSU.
“I announced that there would be no tuition increase for the upcoming year, there will be no furloughs and there would be no layoffs assuming the budget situation improved in the way that the governor and the legislature had committed,” Castro said. “So far, they’re maintaining that commitment to us.”
Castro said he expects the budget to be finalized sometime in June and plans to maintain the commitment of no tuition increase and no layoffs due to budget.