Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
I continue to be impressed and humbled by the leadership demonstrated by our campus presidents and their teams in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are to be commended for the depth and breadth of their COVID-19 planning for the fall semester. They measured classroom space to provide social distancing. Doing so necessarily reduced the capacity of classrooms to which campuses adapted by repurposing larger spaces, using large tents and developing in-class/online hybrid courses. All these changes necessitated a complete rebuild of academic scheduling.
They have reduced the density of student residences and refit them to provide social distancing. They re-thought the cafeteria operations and developed thorough sanitizing procedures. They have adopted testing, quarantine and contact tracing protocols. And, of course, masks are required.
As of today (Sept. 21), students have returned to 18 of the 20 SCICU member institutions. Two campuses have elected to remain online with no students on campus.
And…so far so good. The students are very happy to back, and the surrounding communities who rely on the campuses for their economic well-being are happy they’re back as well. The campuses have experienced a volume of positive tests that are manageable within their plans. But this promising start to the semester can change in a heartbeat, or a breath.
Taking precautions for and adapting to COVID-19 has been expensive. The 20 campuses identified $12.2 million in PPE, sanitizing, facilities, and technology acquisitions, all the result of COVID-19. There’s also lost revenue and increased personnel expenditures.
These additional costs have had on impact on campus budgets. The presidents have made tough decisions, including budget cuts, furloughs, reductions in pension contributions, and yes, even eliminating sports.
Our campus leaders are doing what’s necessary to provide for the well-being of faculty, students, and staff, and to ensure their continued capacity to offer the top-notch learning and living experiences our students and their families expect.