Monday, August 16, 2021
A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources
As we approach the beginning of the Fall 2021 term, I want to share an update on our efforts to prioritize the health and safety of our students, employees, and community, while supporting the continuity of our students’ learning. While we navigate the challenges posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19, we continue to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as our local partner, Orlando Health, just as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic.
The most important step that we can take to protect ourselves and one another is to get vaccinated. To support this effort, we have scheduled more than 70 on-site vaccination clinics across our campuses between now and the end of September. The vaccinations are free and Valencia College continues to provide up to 12 hours of paid leave through Friday, December 31, 2021, for all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and/or recover from the side effects. Anyone in the community who is at least 12 years old will also be welcome at our sites to get a free vaccination. To find the vaccination sites on campus or elsewhere in Orange and Osceola counties, please visit valenciacollege.edu/vaccines.
When we collaboratively designed our plans for the fall semester, we acted very conservatively, scheduling smaller class sizes in order to accommodate physical distancing in onsite classes. Our facilities team has measured each classroom on campus and determined the capacity of each room that allows for physical distancing. Other campus spaces, from our libraries to cafeterias, will also be arranged to accommodate physical distancing, and any face-to-face meetings with students or colleagues, as well as events, will be held in rooms that allow for distancing.
Until CDC guidance for Orange and Osceola counties indicates that masks are no longer recommended indoors, we expect everyone on campus to wear masks when indoors at any Valencia College facility. This includes employees, students, visitors, and vendors, regardless of vaccination status. If someone forgets to bring a mask, masks will be widely available near building entrances, in classrooms, student services offices, and other campus facilities.
Given current conditions, there is not a practical mechanism by which to enforce a mask requirement. We may strongly urge a student or visitor to wear a mask, but at this time we will not refuse unmasked individuals service or refuse to allow them to participate in class if they decline. Faculty, please ensure that any language in your syllabi describes masks as being expected or recommended, but not required (unless you teach in a program that normally requires PPE, such as nursing or allied health).
Taking Care of Ourselves and One Another
If you find yourself feeling unwell and suspect you might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home. The College has continued to make available Emergency Paid Sick Leave, which provides up to two weeks of pay to employees for reasons related to COVID-19, including illness of self or care for a family member in the home who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Faculty and instructors, please encourage students who are feeling ill to stay home — let’s work together to support students who may need to be absent from class due to personal illness or illness in their families.
We continue to conduct contact tracing as we do our part to limit the spread of the virus. Any student or employee who has a positive COVID diagnosis, has COVID-like symptoms, or has been in contact with someone who has a positive COVID diagnosis should contact Valencia’s COVID case management team at COVIDillness@valenciacollege.edu for guidance before returning to campus.
I know these times feel uncertain. Let us lead by example, by getting vaccinated as soon as possible, maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask indoors, and staying home when we aren’t feeling well. If we commit to this together, I believe we can keep one another healthy and safe while providing for the continuity of our students’ learning.