As we’re sure you know, Governor Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in response to the spread of COVID-19 in New York State, where the number of known cases as of this writing has risen to 89. Of those, twelve are in New York City and four are in Nassau County. While this increase in the number of cases is, of course, cause for concern, we also want to echo what Governor Cuomo said when he made his declaration. The fact that the number of confirmed cases is rising means that the people charged with tracking, containing, and ultimately treating those who have this disease are doing their job. Indeed, the State of Emergency itself is meant to facilitate that work by modifying legal, regulatory, and other procedures that would otherwise impede the State’s ability to respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively to the threat COVID-19 poses.
Given how sweeping the State of Emergency is, we have no doubt that the governor, his cabinet, and his advisors deliberated long and hard about its implications and possible consequences before deciding to put it into effect. Similarly, we know—and we know this because we have been part of the conversation from the beginning: at the Leadership Council, with other relevant members of the administration, and with members of the Board of Trustees—that Nassau Community College has been appropriately prudent and deliberate in how it has approached dealing with COVID-19 on our campus.
Contrary to the hyperbolic rhetoric and finger-pointing in some of the virus-related emails posted to the allfaculty list, for example, the administration’s messaging has been consistent, measured, and thorough. There have been three, increasingly campus-specific emails from Dr. Williams, on February 28th, March 4th, and March 8th, as well as more targeted communication, such as this one to the chairs and other relevant parties, from Dr. Collins. Any fair reading of these documents shows that the administration has been taking one, well-considered step at a time as it puts in place the measures necessary to protect not just the health and safety of the campus community, but also the integrity of the work we do here.
As part of the Leadership Council, your Executive Committee played a role in shaping that messaging, as well as the strategy behind it. We agreed, for example, that instead of sending out a new email update any time general information about the virus changed, it made the most sense to encourage people to keep themselves informed by checking the sites to which Dr. Williams linked, which we will list at the bottom of this post. We also agreed that the administration would update the college community only when there was major news that specifically impacted the functioning of our campus. Lastly, we agreed, in the interests of keeping the college’s COVID-19 messaging clear and coherent, that all such messaging should come directly from the administration.
We are breaking our silence now for two reasons. First, we want you to know that if any NCCFT member has health concerns because of a pre-existing medical condition that might render them especially vulnerable to the virus, they should contact Craig Wright’s office immediately and ask for a medical accommodation. (Please make sure to inform the NCCFT Office if you do so. All information will be kept strictly confidential.)
The second reason we are speaking up now is that the potential for virus-related campus disruption confronts us as a union with some serious questions. Within the next two months, we are supposed to hold both our general union meeting—at which we will vote on our revised constitution—and elections for the officers of the Executive Committee. Obviously, the health and safety of our members is paramount, and we will comply with any directive from appropriate authorities that requires us to cancel on-campus activities related to those two events. Nonetheless, both the ratification vote and the election are crucial to our being able to function as a union. We are, therefore, consulting with NYSUT and other relevant authorities and considering all possible options for how we might proceed if the campus becomes unavailable to us. We will update you as more information becomes available.
COVID-19 also has the potential to derail at least the timing of our contract negotiations, which began on Friday, March 6th. If you’d like to read our Negotiations Update, please click here.
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns relating to COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact the union office, email@example.com. If you would like to respond to this post, please do so in the comments section below. Note that if you have not commented on the blog before, your first comment will have to be approved by the moderator.
These websites, which Dr. Williams linked to in his emails, offer useful information about the virus and how to protect yourself from it: