Watch this video to listen to SJSU Lurie College of Education Dean Heather Lattimer share some reflections on the 1 year anniversary of when Santa Clara County and SJSU first transitioned to a shelter-in-place in response to COVID-19 and share some updates and optimism about returning to SJSU to teach, learn, and work in person as we look ahead to the Fall 2021 semester. The full text of Dean Lattimer’s remarks is available below.
Dear Lurie College students, faculty, and staff,
It has been one year since we left campus due to COVID-19. When we said goodbye a year ago, I suggested that staff and faculty pack up what they would need for a couple of months – just to be on the safe side. It has obviously been a lot more than a couple of months.
As I reflect back on the past year, I am both heartbroken and grateful. I am heartbroken by the incalculable losses that we’ve witnessed – Friends and family members lost to COVID and other illnesses. Job losses and financial insecurities. Exacerbated inequality. Anti-Asian, anti-Black, and anti-immigrant violence targeted toward our BIPOC communities. Isolation and mental health challenges. Wildfire-related disruptions and displacements. Missing celebrations and curtailed rites of passage. These losses are real and significant and we grieve them with you.
But I am grateful too – I have been so deeply impressed by the resilience and commitment of our Lurie College community. During the past year, we’ve witnessed students, faculty, staff, and community partners coming together to support and care for one another. There have been real accomplishments that would have been significant in normal times and are monumental in COVID times. For example – this year 330 undergraduate students in Lurie College have earned the dean’s scholar award, a 50% increase over the previous year. Enrollment in our credential programs grew by 40%. We’ve seen an increase in faculty and staff recognition through awards, grants, and publications. We’ve deepened partnerships and outreach and provided direct support to school districts, community-based organizations, and clinics.
Each and every day I wake up humbled and grateful to be part of a college community that consistently demonstrates care and kindness toward one another and a passionate commitment to our larger mission to prepare and sustain transformative educators, counselors, therapists, school and community leaders. Thank you!
One year later we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. If vaccination continues to progress and infection rates continue to decline, we anticipate that we will be in a very different context by August. We are planning that most classes will be able to have face-to-face meetings for the Fall 2021 semester. We are anticipating that most field experiences will be in person at our partner sites. College offices will be reopening and I anticipate being back on campus in Sweeney Hall full time by August 1.
We recognize that some people may have health concerns that prevent them from returning to campus and will need accommodation. We also recognize that there have been some real benefits to the online environment and are exploring how effective use of the virtual space can support student learning and strengthen access moving forward. However, I know that many of us are eager to be able to see people face to face and be in community together. As you look to the year ahead, please anticipate that we will be returning to campus. There will likely be the continued need for masking and some social distancing, but it will be so good to be able to see people in person!
Of course, the pandemic isn’t over and I encourage you to continue to wear masks, socially distance, and wash hands. When you are able, please go get the vaccine. Santa Clara County is now in phase 1 b of vaccine distribution, with people working in education and childcare eligible to be vaccinated. This includes all SJSU employees and all Lurie College students who currently are or anticipate returning to school or clinic sites in Spring 2021. I received my first dose at Levi Stadium last weekend. The health care workers and volunteers at the stadium were fantastic. And it felt really good knowing that it represented a huge step toward getting us all back to campus.
Thank you again for all that you do to contribute to the health, well-being, and success of our community. Lurie College is a family of dedicated, talented, smart, creative, passionate, and capable individuals. Together we have not just survived this past year, we have thrived. Thank you for being part of our family. I look forward to seeing you back on campus next semester!
With gratitude —