Updates on Health & Safety
Your AFT reps and leaders continue to work for the health and safety of faculty by attending monthly meetings of their campus health and safety committees, and participating significantly in other opportunities to provide related input and advocate for our members.
Chancellor’s Ad Hoc Committee
In October Chancellor Claire informed AFT that he would be forming an ad hoc committee of faculty and classified professionals to study the issue of our District’s Covid-19 vaccination requirement (Board Policy 2.90) passed in July 2021. This study would take place outside of the college health and safety committees.
AFT appointed representatives and together with CSEA and Academic Senate reps, the ad hoc committee recommended that the Board suspend their policy of mandatory vaccinations with four significant caveats spearheaded by members of Skyline’s Health, Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee (HSEPC):
“The committee’s commitment to the continuing health and safety of students and employees urges the Board of Trustees to commit continued resources aimed at the following:
- Development and implementation of a robust SMCCCD community COVID-19 education campaign to include emphasis of all CDC identified strategies.
- Availability of free COVID-19 antigen testing and N95 masks.
- Collaboration with SMC Department of Public Health to provide continued vaccination clinics across the District.
- Assessment and optimization of ventilation in all SMCCCD indoor spaces.”
On October 26 the Board voted to suspend Board Policy 2.90 COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement.
During Fall, Skyline faculty spoke out at monthly meetings of the HSEPC about the need for more education around covid, the flu and monkeypox, the need for better signage as we head into an extreme flu season (“wash your hands” etc.), and about safety issues employees and students face from poor cell phone service at many campus locations, and lack of emergency blue light call boxes in our parking lots. This last issue was brought to light most recently by new STEM faculty member Robert Lopez, Jr. who noted that poor coverage poses a particular safety threat for people walking to their cars in the dark. The Skyline View student newspaper published an editorial on the same topic this month, “Skyline needs blue lights.”
On December 1 the committee heard updates on cellular coverage from Yoseph Demissie, Director of Information Technology Support Services, on plans to bid out work to improve service on campus. He and VPSS Joe Morello explained that the college is committed to making substantial improvements, sharing a November 2022 Skyline College “Cellular Coverage Survey” that begins, “Signal coverage for all 3 of the major operators is nearly non-existent for the majority of the campus.”
In November, the HSEPC spearheaded an information session on the latest viruses hosted by the Library and Health Center featuring an excellent presentation by College physician Dr. Walter Chang. For a copy of Dr. Chang’s presentation slides to share with your students or colleagues, please send a note to Skyline Nurse Emily Risk, RN <email@example.com>.
Dr. Chang’s talk led to a further request to have a faculty member from Personal Counseling discuss updates to their 24/7 mental health services for students now offered by the District through Timely Care. On December 1, Counselor Liz Llamas presented to the committee on mental health services, including that the college has seen a recent and substantial increase in our students’ use of mental health services across the District.
Cañada does not have full coverage of the campus for emergencies in terms of having building captains for all buildings at all hours that they are occupied. They were encouraging folks to go through the 3-day training that’s been provided at the 3 campuses this fall, and then they are planning to map out who works where at what time to see how to appoint building captains. It’s not clear how they will be sure to have staff trained to cover all of the needed buildings and shifts.
The emergency notification system, Rave, is opt out. That is, any employee who has a cellphone registered with the district will get the emergency notification on their cell… as long as cellular reception is available, of course! But cell coverage is not consistent and reliable throughout the campus. It was mentioned at the December meeting of Cañada’s Health and Safety Committee that you could download the app, and in this way you could be notified as long as you had wifi service. But this has not been announced to the campus community. What good is an app that nobody knows exists?
Still No Faculty or Staff Representation on District Managers Health & Safety Committee (DHSC)
Despite unanimous votes by Skyline and Canada’s health and safety committees dating back an entire year in favor of allowing faculty and classified union reps to be present at the District’s quarterly DHSC meetings, the DHSC continues to meet behind closed doors without any classified professionals or faculty present. A discussion on the committee’s charge was slated as part of “Scope and Purpose of DHSC” at their December 5th meeting, which they recorded for the first time. We’ll continue to report back on any progress in the next issue of the Advocate.
AFT Health and Safety Committee reps
Faculty with any questions or concerns about health or safety issues should reach out to their AFT reps on their campus Health and Safety Committees:
- Cañada College: Michael Hoffman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- College of San Mateo: David Lau <email@example.com>
- Skyline College: Jessica Silver-Sharp <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Lori Slicton <email@example.com>
Do you want to discuss any issues related to health and safety in our district? The Advocate would like to encourage readers to comment on this article or related issues on AFT 1493’s Discord server. Click here to comment.