2021 Academic Year Communication

May 26, 2021

Dear PAU Community, As I write this update on plans for the 2021-2022 Academic Year, I do so with some hopeful signs about the pandemic, but with continued levels of challenge and uncertainty in terms of the ultimate progression of the situation. Ongoing concerns about vaccination rates, virus variants, access to vaccinations for younger children, and possible additional surges as we head into the fall/winter flu season are all in play.

As always, we continue to follow the best public health guidance as it is released. What we can and cannot do is still determined by federal, state, and local authorities. And, what we may be allowed may be more extensive than what health authorities advice is w ise to do. Because of our small physical campus, without on-campus dormitories, we may need to make decisions for our campus community that differ from other schools, even those in California. Our small classroom size and lack of ability to open windows in the classrooms affects our planning as well.

In the last several weeks, we re-convened our Planning Task Force to provide guidance in all areas of the university for the 2021-22 Academic Year. We continue to evaluate all options through the lens of principles and values that:

  • Prioritize the health and safety of our students, our faculty, and our staff, to the greatest extent possible;
  • Prioritize the continuity toward degree and high-quality academic education for our students while ensuring maintenance of accreditation requirements;
  • Foster innovation and flexibility in our thinking and planning;
  • Strive for the highest quality in our students’ clinical training, at Gronowski Center and, in community settings; and,
  • Make the most responsibly efficient and optimal use of budgetary, facilities, and technology resources to support the academic success of our students and faculty.

To best support these principles and values, we strongly encourage everyone in the PAU community to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines, assuming they are able to do so. Under new Santa Clara guidance effective May 19, 2021, we will need to track the status of vaccinations of all employees. We will continue to require daily health screens for anyone coming to one of our campuses. This will be the surest way to be able to fully resume on-campus activities. Please note that for most of our graduate students who will be in clinical placements, the practicum or internship site is likely to require vaccination to serve the public/clients. Additional guidance may be forthcoming from public health authorities that could mandate vaccinations for on-campus activities.

As we have said from the outset of the pandemic, we will not require any student, faculty, or staff to place themselves in a situation that would put their own or their family’s health at risk. We may, however, require medical documentation to support any accommodation that might be needed as we return more activities to one of our campuses. Additionally, we understand that students who are in residential programs benefit from safe, organized academic activities that allow them to form a strong affiliation with each other and the campus community. To be clear, we have no intention of permanently changing the modalities of our PhD, PsyD, BS Residential, and MHC Residential programs. As soon as we are able, we will return these programs to on-campus. Given where we are today, the information provided below is our best guidance at this point regarding the 2021-22 academic year.

For CLASSES For the Fall 2021 Quarter- To the extent possible, and with the quality of student learning and accessibility in mind, most classes should remain predominantly online for the Fall 2021 quarter, with the possibility for one or more classes per day to be held at one of our campuses. We are working with the faculty to prioritize classes that we should, if possible, offer on campus. We may still need to split the class into various spaces on campus to accommodate students and allow for physical distancing. The class or classes that will be selected to be held on campus will be determined with the faculty’s input and by the following priorities: ● First Year PhD and PsyD students ● First Year BS students in the residential cohort ● Second Year PhD and PsyD students

For the Winter & Spring 2021-22 Quarters - It is our strong hope and preference that we will return to on-campus classes by the Winter or Spring quarter of the coming academic year, consistent with public health guidance. For ADDITIONAL ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES : Faculty and students are encouraged to design and participate in on-campus, in-classroom activities where safe and appropriate in the form of academic, research, and instructional activities.

  • Examples of such activities might include:
  • Hybrid activities for select classes, e.g., where assessment exercises could be more effectively conducted in small, in-person groups
  • Small group project work
  • Small discussion sections
  • Research Lab meetings
  • Assessment demonstrations & recording sessions
  • Student accommodation activities, e.g., test-taking or study skill development
  • Sign-up opportunities for access to campus for stable internet and WIFI for exams and other purposes

All on-campus activities will be coordinated with the Facilities Department to ensure safety protocols are followed, and all participants will be required to complete the daily health screening for certification to be on campus. Additional guidance will be provided on managing these processes.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we carefully assess the best way to educate our students without sacrificing the quality PAU is known for, nor the health and safety of our community. As a community, we have worked hard to manage this very challenging year to support the continuity of education for our amazing students. I am so grateful for the incredible work you have all put in to bring PAU through such a challenging time and I know, together, we can and will come through this a stronger community.

With PAU Pride,

Maureen O'Connor President