Senate plans for what is next due to the lifting of the mask mandate

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Yarrow Hogan, News Editor

On Friday, Sept. 16, the mask mandate at City College was lifted for students and staff transitioning from required, to strongly encouraged. The Academic Senate made a proposal for the next step in this process for faculty members.

During the meeting held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Academic Senate discussed how the faculty plans to move forward with masking in the classroom to ensure that every party feels safe while proceeding with classes on campus.

After a long debate, the Academic Senate decided to move forward with the motion that individual faculty members should have the right to require students to wear masks in their indoor spaces through the end of fall semester.

“I feel strongly that faculty who want their students masked should be able to require masking,” Senator Kathy O’Connor said. “Faculty should be able to have a choice at this point in time.”

The senate discussed the main goal of keeping students in person while also allowing both students and staff to feel safe without masks at school.

“We also want to support the students who prefer wearing masks,” Jess Estrada said. “It is important that we support them as well.”

Even though the mask mandate has been lifted on campus and Santa Barbara remains in the low tier of COVID-19 cases, the daily health surveys will remain in effect for anyone on campus.

“We are still asking both students and all employees to complete the Cleared4 health survey everyday,” Vice President of Student Affairs Paloma Arnold said. “One of the primary uses for Cleared4 is so that we can conduct efficient and quick contact tracing.”

The administration denied teachers the ability to require masks for all students rather than request. However, the Academic Senate emphasized that they support the faculty’s ability to require masking in their respective classrooms instead of only requesting their students to wear masks.

Teachers would present the reasons for their masking preferences such as lack of room ventilation, classroom occupancy, or immunocompromised students and faculty.

Faculty has support from City College to obtain certain procedures in order to ensure a safe environment for everyone, such as requesting a bigger classroom, an outdoor tent or a plexiglass shield. 

The Academic Senate also highlighted the issue of smaller departments within the school not getting the funding or support they need. In contrast to more major departments, smaller departments are affected by the distribution of funds and representation. 

Departments such as English as a second language division felt “ignored, forgotten and abandoned by the senate, ” Senator Juan Casillas said. “It seems like other smaller departments’ needs are not being met.”

In addition, Senator Patricia Mautone brings up the ongoing issue of registration and accessibility issues, specifically for DSPS students, during course enrollment.

“The enrollment process is very burdensome for our non-credit courses,” said Mautone. “It is an equity issue, students are not getting the classes they need.” 

The issues of department funding and registration enrollment was brought to the senate in hopes of gaining support and training to improve both the enrollment process and funding issues for both students and staff. The Academic Senate plans to discuss ways in which to get all students the help that they need at their next meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28.