September 28, 2020

Dear SDSU Community,

I know the adjustments each of us has had to make throughout the pandemic have left us exhausted and concerned for our health. To those of you who have been ill, I share my sincere wish for your continued recovery. Others are concerned about their academic performance, their jobs, the next steps in their lives, or their friends and loved ones. Your individual circumstances remain at the top of my mind and close to my heart as we work together to care for our community during this ongoing global pandemic.

In one of my first campus messages about COVID-19, shared in March, I expressed with other campus leaders the importance of individual responsibility to help keep ourselves and our community healthy and safe. That was during a time when we were still studying and meeting in person.

Now, six months later, the most important actions we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have not changed. This responsibility falls to everyone.

Each of us must wear a facial covering when we are with other people. We must physically distance ourselves from one another outside our households. We must do our best to practice healthy hygiene at all times. If we feel ill, we must remain home to avoid infecting others. Such guidance continues to be shared by public health officials everywhere. And we must continue these everyday individual actions to sustain our core mission of access to education.

Hundreds of our students live with us because they cannot live elsewhere, and rely upon the university for essential support. Many more are part of graduate, professional, or specialized degree programs that cannot be fully virtual without undermining licensure or accreditation requirements, and therefore risking the ability of those students to graduate and secure jobs. Our core mission remains to educate our students, and there are essential components that cannot be stopped without creating far greater harm.

Further, we recognize that delaying a student’s education and therefore a start to one’s career can result in devastating economic challenges for some. This is especially true for those of us in the California State University system, which serves a far more diverse student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students we support who have no permanent homes and others who have come to the United States from abroad to complete their degrees must be given the opportunity to stay. Faculty researchers are also continuing critical work on time-bound projects, some of which are closely aligned with reducing COVID-19’s spread.

This message is sent to reinforce what we all collectively know. Individual actions are foundational to any campus plan and to public health overall. In the CSU, campus plans have been, and continue to be reviewed by experts at the local level, county level, and by CSU system leadership, and informed by directives from the state and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health faculty experts also continue to inform, recommend, and review new processes. The SDSU Vice Presidents and I continue to meet almost daily with the University Senate Chair, with weekly engagement from Associate Students leadership. Our collective planning is strengthened by more voices with expertise, not fewer.

In the days ahead, more information about the in-person pause that remains in effect, and also our COVID-19 testing and response efforts, will be shared with the campus community. As I have said before, please continue to rely on the public-facing COVID-19 site, which is updated daily with case information, and the COVID-19 Weekly Digest.

And please remember to follow the public health guidance designed to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones. And, as always, thank you for continued understanding and your commitment to our community as we work together through the pandemic.

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President