School of Education

Dear SOE Community,

Welcome back to the second half of the academic year and the start to a new calendar year, 2022. A special welcome to those joining our community this semester.

The principles of collective care, safety, and mutual support have guided the School of Education’s plans since the onset of COVID-19 around this time, two years ago. At every step, with every new variant and surge, we have tried to correlate scientific findings and public health guidelines with the evolving needs of our School of Education community to make arrangements that best fit the needs of the collective. As a graduate school made up of individuals from communities near and far, working professionals, parenting adults, caregivers to elders, and of course, serving K-12 schools and community organizations, we have always been conscious of how our decisions affect other vulnerable populations with whom we live, work, and serve. With all these nuances in mind, and the uncertainties of this evolving pandemic, we developed a two-year plan for a safe and thoughtful transition from remote teaching and learning to in-person engagements. Following this plan, we were prepared to increase our in-person classes and engagements starting this semester, Spring 2022. With the unexpected surge of the highly contagious Omicron variant, we decided to hold off on in-person classes until February 7th, 2022.

Beginning the week of February 7th, we plan to resume our original spring schedule that details in-person and hybrid classes for each program.  With the university requiring faculty, staff, and students to be fully vaccinated (with booster), with new COVID-testing opportunities available on campus, and with extra vigilance with masking and distancing, we feel more confident in our ability to safely begin in-person classes. We are also mindful of many who are seeking social connections and a chance to be in community. In preparation for this transition, please note the following:

  • The most recent communication from the University listing safety resources and guidelines.
  • We will closely follow our in-person experiences, with special attention to COVID positivity rates, in the first weeks of being back  and will make necessary changes as needed to ensure health and safety.
  • Please be extra attentive to communication coming from your Department Chairs and/or Program Coordinators. The School of Education has over 20 programs with distinct requirements and variations, and therefore, program level communications will address any specific needs or changes. This is especially true for our programs in Sacramento, the South Bay, the North Bay, and Pleasanton where other contextual challenges might drive distinct decisions. 
  • Please go through the entire slide-deck in this communication, titled “a semester of wellness” for a full list of supports, resources, and spaces available to members of the School of Education this semester as we strive for collective wellbeing.
  • We strongly advise everyone entering the building to wear N95 or KN95 masks.  During the week of February 7th, including the teaching weekend, we will be in the building with extra masks should any member of the community need one.  

We ended last semester with this tribute to bell hooks and as we enter this new calendar year, I am struck by the relevance of this conversation between bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hahn, as we return to building community in person.

bell hooks: The intellectual is often thought of as a person who is alone and cut off from the world. So I have had to practice being willing to leave the space of my study to be in community, to work in community, and to be changed by community. I think this is the love that we seek in the new millennium, which is the love experienced in community, beyond self. 

Thich Nhat Hanh: …and then we learn to operate as a community and not as individuals. We try to operate like cells in one body. So please, live that truth and disseminate that truth with your writing, with your speaking. It will be helpful to maintain that kind of view and action.

Dear SOE community, with this “view and action” let us realize that our work in the education and mental health professions is more urgent and transformative than ever. I hope each of you can feel assured that you are in the right place, at the right time. We look forward to welcoming you back in-person starting February 7th and thank you in advance for your patience, flexibility, vigilance, and care of the whole community.

Shabnam Koirala-Azad