Updates on Air Quality/Health Concerns

The latest air quality and campus closure information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Editor’s Note: The FAQ was updated Nov. 19, 2018 to reflect answers to additional inquiries.

What level of ventilation and filtration is used in university buildings?

We use Merv 11 HVAC Filters. This is one of the best filtering systems on the market. They are changed typically every six months. However, we have been looking at the air flow through the filters monthly. If we see restrictions, we are replacing them ahead of schedule. All buildings on campus have been reduced to minimal make up air from the outside.  All make up air passes through the Merv 11 filters. (MERV 9 to 12 furnace air filters capture up to 95% of airborne particles and contaminants like pollen, dust mites and mold spores, as small as 1.0 microns.)

What type of air mask should I be using?

Typically the N95 is best for most people, including the 3M 8210 (N95) mask with double elastic. This is recommended by the California Department of Public Health and the California Air Resources Board. recommended general public use.  Mostly it’s the N95 rating.  But for as many people who are buying masks, the county public health officer warns that the N95 is not recommended for all. People with chronic medical conditions should check with their health provider to determine if a mask is appropriate for them.

“You would think people who have asthma, emphysema, chronic heart disease would actually benefit most from these masks,” said Sacramento County’s Director of Health Services Dr. Peter Beilenson. “That is actually not true. They are most at risk from these masks because it actually makes it harder to breathe.”  Recommended by CDPH and the California air resources board.

For more information, visit CDPH or ARB.

Are masks available on campus?

Yes, the Student Wellness Center has N95 masks available for SJSU students and employees who present an ID.

Why did SJSU administrators decide to keep campus open Nov. 19-21?

The safety and well-being of our students is a top concern for us, that’s why we closed campus last Thursday and Friday. The air quality index at the time was near 200, a very unhealthy level. Since then, we’ve continuously been monitoring multiple air services to determine when to re-open campus. The air quality has improved (near 156 this morning) and the forecast is for continued improvement over the next few days

There is a student petition with more than 10,000 signatures asking to close the campus. What are you saying to those students?

We truly respect the thoughtful perspective of our students and have been communicating with them through social media and other communication channels. The air quality monitoring services and our own Environmental and Health Safety team indicate the air quality is getting better today and will continue to do so.

Do classrooms in Sweeney Hall require the windows to remain open during lecture because of the lack of air flow?

Sweeney Hall has operable windows.  The HVAC system will condition the space if the windows remain shut.  We have addressed increasing the airflow within the classrooms. Going into the next couple of days the windows should be shut to keep in the heat.

Will staff or faculty need to use sick or vacation time during the closure?

No, staff and faculty will not be required to use or vacation time during the closure.

Will deadlines for petitions be extended due to the closure?

SJSU will be extending deadlines for petitions due this week from Friday, Nov. 16 to Monday, Nov. 26 to allow more time for students who need to:

1.  Submit a petition to withdraw from the semester through Academic Advising and Retention Services

2.  Submit a petition to late drop a course through Academic Advising and Retention Services

3.  Submit a petition for post-census enrollment through the Office of the Registrar

Please feel free to send any questions to vp.adminfinance@sjsu.edu.

 


November 18, 2018, 10:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on November 18, 2018. We will post updates on this web page as new information becomes available.

To the Spartan Community,

We have received a number of inquiries and requests for reconsideration of our announcement that the campus will be open for classes tomorrow. We truly respect the thoughtful perspectives that were shared by many SJSU students and other university community members. Decisions to close a campus are never made lightly. The needs and well-being of SJSU’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as the surrounding community, are paramount in any discussion regarding the operation of the campus.

A compelling case for closure was made this past week, and we responded by closing the institution last Thursday and Friday. We made the decision to close as the Air Quality Index (AQI) levels were approaching the very unhealthy (above 200) range. Since that time the levels have dropped markedly. While the air quality in the San Jose area is currently in the unhealthy range, the AQI readings this evening are much improved over what they were Thursday and Friday, and the forecast is for continued improvement over the next couple of days.

As previously stated, we encourage any students experiencing health issues to seek medical advice, and we discourage prolonged outdoor activity while the air quality is still less than ideal. However, barring any unforeseen worsening of air quality conditions in the coming hours we anticipate that campus will be available and open, and classes will be in session tomorrow and Tuesday as scheduled. We will continue to monitor conditions and communicate to the university community should conditions change.

Please visit go.sjsu.edu/air and our Twitter and Facebook feeds for any additional updates.

 


November 18, 2018, 2:40 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on November 18, 2018.

Dear University Community,

As we shared last week, the San José State University campus will be open for classes and all other business tomorrow and Tuesday, with a regular employee workday and faculty duty day (no classes scheduled) on Wednesday prior to the Thanksgiving holiday break.

We share the concerns of many who have written regarding ongoing air quality issues in our region. Our leadership team is in continual contact with local and regional air quality and environmental agencies to monitor conditions. While we suggest limiting extensive outdoor activity while poor air quality persists, we are assured that conditions are improving and the campus can return to business as usual. Should there be any significant change in conditions we will respond accordingly, but at this time the campus will resume business as usual tomorrow.

We understand that some individuals may experience greater sensitivity to changing environmental conditions. Please consult the Student Wellness Center or your health care provider should you experience health issues.

Our latest updates on current air quality conditions continue to be available at go.sjsu.edu/air and via Twitter and Facebook.

Charlie Faas
Vice President, Administration and Finance


November 15, 2018, 3:10 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on November 15, 2018.

Dear University Community,

As announced last evening, San Jose State University is closed today and tomorrow. The campus is currently scheduled to re-open for classes and other campus activities Saturday morning, and will be open as scheduled for classes Monday and Tuesday of next week, and a duty day for employees on Wednesday prior to the Thanksgiving holiday break.

We will continue to monitor air quality and consult with environmental and health experts as we proceed, and will provide any additional updates as needed. Please visit go.sjsu.edu/air and/or SJSU’s Twitter and Facebook accounts for the latest updates.

 


November 14, 2018, 10:58 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on November 14, 2018.

Dear University Community,

San Jose State University’s campus will be closed Thursday, Nov. 15 and Friday, Nov. 16 due to unhealthy air quality levels in the Bay Area caused by wildfires throughout the state. The health and well being of students, faculty and staff are of utmost importance to us; we encourage you to continue to heed the advice shared in our earlier campus message to stay safe over the next few days.

Below are answers to some of the questions you may have about the closure:

Will any campus services remain open?

Yes, residence halls, the Dining Commons and Village Market will remain open during the closure Nov. 15-16. All other campus buildings will be closed, including the Spartan Memorial Chapel and Spartan Recreation facilities.

Will the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library remain open?

Yes, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will remain open during the campus closure Nov. 15-16, but SJSU services will not be available. The library will be open until 9 p.m. on Nov. 15 and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 16.

Will the Student Wellness Center remain open?

The Student Wellness Center will be closed Friday, Nov. 16, with plans to reopen on Monday, Nov. 19.

Are campus events and extracurricular activities canceled?

Yes, campus events including the Truth Effect have been postponed or canceled; check the SJSU events calendar or connect with event organizers for information on rescheduled dates and times.

Will Saturday classes be canceled?

At this time, the campus closure is effective through Friday, Nov 16. The university leadership team will continue to monitor the air quality situation and will determine if the closure should be extended.

Will online classes continue?

All classes Nov. 15-16 will be canceled, including online classes.

Will anyone be required to report to campus during the closure?

Essential employees should report to work; if you are unclear about your status, please check in with your direct supervisor.

 


November 14, 2018, 4:09 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on November 14, 2018.

Dear Campus Community,

On top of the human tragedy caused by the California fires, we are also facing concerns with air quality and our immediate environment. We continue to monitor air quality levels and believe remaining open is still safe and in the best interests of our community, but we encourage people to stay indoors as much as possible. While there are currently no plans to close the campus, some of us may experience health challenges due to the reported air quality. When scheduling classes and activities, faculty should exercise consideration and be sensitive to the fact that people react in different ways to poor air quality.

Precautions we can all consider include:

  • Limiting outdoor activities
  • Setting air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate (to prevent outside air from moving inside)
  • Reducing exposure to smoky air by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed, if possible

A good resource is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website. The site offers current information on “Spare the Air” alerts, environmental news, and other advisories. Another good resource is the EPA’s Air Quality Index, or AQI, which acts like an air quality “thermometer.”

The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff here at San Jose State are always my utmost concern. Please continue to keep attuned to any further concerns you might hear from students and colleagues, and share those with us at vp.adminfinance@sjsu.edu. We can then do our collective best to respond appropriately.

Thank you,
Charlie Faas
Vice President, Administration and Finance