Pacifica Campus Reopening Update – Winter Quarter Announcement
Dear Pacifica Students,
I send this campus reopening update hoping you are healthy and managing well in the new year and start of your winter quarters. This past Monday, we honored Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with reflections on ongoing issues of racial injustice. As the work of Pacifica’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force continues to deepen and saturate all levels of the Institute, I am proud of our commitment to MLK’s legacy of social justice and look forward to furthering our communal work together in this year ahead.
As indicated in the communications around the holidays, we aimed to make a decision around this time about the status of our campus reopening in February and the rest of the winter quarter. While there is still much to be known about the conditions of the virus in the coming weeks, it appears the Omicron variant surge of COVID illnesses and effects has not yet peaked here in Santa Barbara and other areas. Therefore, considering community well-being, the most responsible path for Pacifica is to remain with the full remote delivery of courses for the remainder of the winter quarter. We shall keep campuses closed for the time-being with the intent to reopen in a concurrent classroom delivery of courses for the spring quarter.
While I encourage you to read the entirety of this letter for the complete details, I have also recorded a brief video message about this latest reopening decision and our reflections at this point in our pandemic response: Update on Campus Reopening – Video Message from Dr. Cambray (1/20/22)
This latest step in our pandemic response carries both disappointment and an acceptance of our present reality. We continue to miss the in-person, interpersonal presence in the educational and work experience and had eagerly prepared and anticipated that taking place this winter after so much time away. For a number of students, the winter quarter is also their last one in coursework, and so we recognize those who may miss those on-campus experiences and aim to provide meaningful alternatives. Further delaying reopening brings frustration and a need to tolerate ongoing uncertainty and unknown projections in a way that is not easy. Signs of the virus significantly tailing off on the east coast are encouraging, and we hope a decline will soon occur here in the California. However, we see the consequences of an already strained healthcare system and breakdowns of other societal functions in the wake of this latest variant. Our own campuses, faculty and staff have not been immune to cases, as I imagine many of you have directly experienced in some form in recent weeks.
As a school with a cohort model that includes students, faculty, and staff traveling from various locations then gathering together, hosting classes on campus at this point would be detrimental to community members’ health protections, to the operational ability to host sessions effectively, as well as to our shared responsibility not to further contribute to the spread of this virus. This was a difficult decision but one we feel obligated to at this time and one that received the full support of our faculty and administrative leadership.
We shall continue to monitor developments with the pandemic closely and evaluate what conditions are needed to successfully hold courses on-campus both in the short-term and into the future. Our intent remains to open campuses for concurrent classroom course delivery in the spring quarter, and we are planning to make an official decision about that by early March.
One important logistical note regarding the decision to stay remote for winter – students will not be charged for their residential/non-residential/concurrent classroom fees. Any such charges that have already taken place for the partial quarter will be credited/refunded in full. The Guest Services department will cancel any lodging reservations that were made on the student’s behalf for the winter quarter.
The demands of this pandemic on so many aspects of our lives continue to tax us. We face ongoing strain and exhaustion, personally, politically, professionally, and as an institution. Let us continue to use this time to reflect on how we adapt and meet challenges, while maintaining the core values we wish of ourselves and our world. We are looking at ways to further support engagement across the community and enhance well-being and high-quality scholarship that meets the times. One way is through feedback. We are grateful to have heard from many either in direct communication or previous surveys – feedback that did lead to initiatives and productive conversation.
However, this is a new moment that calls for renewal of our interactions. We are organizing other opportunities for survey and engagement on how to best support our community’s needs. Please continue to monitor communication channels, including email, D2L, and the website, for more information about these efforts and additional campus updates. As is always the case, we encourage you to reach out to appropriate departments for any questions or clarifications needed.