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Survey Raw Responses: Single Greatest Need That Prevents Feeling Prepared for Reopening

Timely direction from CDC and WA State; consensus on vaccinations.

Chemical/cleaning supplies and gloves.

We are prepared to open in the fall — the biggest barrier for us was state requirements which have been lifted.

Need for local authorities to allow indoor meals without distancing.

Contradictory and vague direction from authorities.

Reduced operating budgets and loss of staff that have not been restored as a result of COVID cutbacks.

Being reactionary and waiting for administration to say what they are really going to do.

100% commitment from faculty and students to fully vaccinate.

Lack of clear guidelines and communication from the Governor’s office. Ambiguity and indecisiveness causes infighting amongst decision-makers at our college.

The time to complete and implement HVAC upgrades.

Decision from the CDC on spacing in classrooms.

Honesty from the campus community and visitors that they have been vaccinated and the unknown of the COVID variants that might emerge in the fall.

Better controls on HVAC systems that allow us to monitor and report exactly what is happening in each space.  However, funding will not be available to make this need a reality in the near future.

Staffing levels and funding.

Convincing people to get vaccinated.

People not getting vaccinated.


Need certainty on public health guidance/mandated requirements.

Uncertainty about the space impact and potential space modification requests from a “permanently” hybrid workspace for some departments.

Consistent information from state and local authorities and the time to implement protocol changes.

Having more students, staff, and faculty in all buildings “bursts” the social bubbles that have been created over the past 18 months.

Though we will have herd immunity, not all people will be vaccinated.

The need to continue to practice distance and sanitize and use precautions and continue with covid testing every 30 days.

Staffing to handle base line work load.

The real number of students who will be returning to dorm living.   Are students going to be comfortable living with someone who is not vaccinated?

The lack of required vaccinations.


A crystal ball.   We are prepared, even if a second wave develops.  Supply chain issues remain a concern.

Location-specific aggregated data regarding vaccination rates.

Dealing with another variant/strain of the virus.

Clear guidance from the CDC of social distancing of the classrooms.

There is a lack of executive leadership firmness or direction in drawing the “line in the sand” for what facilities will be responsible for in the fall.  There are many faculty members who will continue to use “unsafe facilities” as the reason they can’t return in person.

Changing California guidelines and their inconsistencies.

Direction from authorities.

Direction from senior administration.

Employees’ willingness to return to campus/work.

Clear guidance from public health authorities.  We have prepared for the worst case scenario… but I have a feeling that our executive leadership will ask us to open the flood gates at the last minute and open to pre-COVID operations.

Vaccine hesitancy.

Financial resources to improve HVAC systems throughout campus.

Making it mandatory for all campus visitors, employees, and students to be fully vaccinated before entry.

STAFF. Already down in numbers from pre-COVID. Vaccination mandate may impact this further as there are a number of anti-vaccination mindsets with facilities staff members. Refusal to share proof of vaccination will be considered tacit resignation.

Vaccination levels.  Our return protocols are hinging upon how many of our faculty and staff are vaccinated.

Top level decision making.

We believe we are well prepared.

I feel pretty good. We could use more workers for the filter changes.

Lower USA birth rates contributing to expected lower enrollments is a concern and we need increased enrollment numbers.

Staffing levels.  We need applicants.

Not really knowing if we will really come back full capacity or will something change before we do.

A plan from our COVID task force. They have not released their official plans still. A lack of clear guidance.

Knowing the vaccination status for all students/faculty/staff.

The need for isolation/quarantine spaces for the fall.


State or System (IL) decision on whether vaccinations will be mandatory for students and/or staff.

Need enough staff to support mechanical changes.


Being able to hire enough custodians to maintain the recommended cleaning levels, while returning to cleaning most classrooms every day. We had re-directed the classroom FTEs to the high touch cleaning effort.

Sufficient employees in light of retirements that have taken place due to those high risk employees having to return to the workplace.

Communication to our faculty and staff so that they feel safe. (Looking for just the right wording).

The rules continue to change.

A full opening plan from senior administration.


Qualified staff and the salary funding that goes with this.


A clear understanding and cohesion amongst guidance from state and local authorities (Cal-OSHA, Public Health).

Mandatory vaccinations.

Evidence about transmission by aerosol movement from one space to another via the HVAC system.

People. Experiencing challenges filling vacancies.


Risk of next wave.

Lack of digital control systems in all buildings and reliance on pneumatic systems.

How to track students in specific seats with seat and row numbers and faculty taking roll each class.  Expectation has been set, but implementation is a concern.  Seats move around, students don’t sit in assigned seats, instructors don’t take roll which all leads to more difficult contract tracing, if needed.

Governor has removed all restrictions; local authority still has some in place. It is unknown what will be required in fall.

More clarity on HVAC requirements.

Parking spaces.

Nothing prevents us from re-opening, taking the right measure and strategies always keep us strong to run the buildings efficiently and infection free.

People getting fully vaccinated.

Not enough staffing to cover the disinfecting of the university.

Educating staff/faculty that have been home for a year and a half that it’s going to be okay to come back to work in-person.

Final confirmation that the virus is fully under control and that the threat of new strains is managed.  This impacts overall institutional preparedness and continues to impact service to foreign students and some faculty.

Lack of staff – hiring freeze during pandemic.

Updated CDC guidance that would more clearly support easing of requirements.

A crystal ball to tell us whether or not we will experience another wave of cases :).  There are so many unknowns and the social perspective is so divided that it’s difficult to make decisions.  Our staff would like to set classrooms at full capacity and ask students to socially distance themselves, since they will all likely be vaccinated, but a large number of faculty don’t yet feel comfortable teaching in-person classes, let alone teaching to a mostly-full class of students.

Clear guidance from leadership.

Staff – we’re having a difficult time filling positions, particularly housekeepers.

Ventilation system confirmation of OSA volumes.

Standardized recommendation/directives from authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) on what will be required.

You cannot depend on the honor system for people who claim to be vaccinated, if the honor system works why are the jails full!!!


Improved air circulation.

Filling vacant front-line positions.

Faculty and student behavior and listening to instructions.

Perfectly working HVAC systems.

Custodial shortages.  Lack of applicants due to increased unemployment benefits.  We are unionized so hiring outside cleaning companies to fill the gap is difficult.

Need students to enroll.

Not knowing who has received their vaccination.

Efficient information dissemination.

Stable staffing.

Personnel is always the fear. We lost custodial staff & maintenance personnel that will be hard to replace.

Clarity for HVAC requirements.

Automation to support monitoring activity within the facility – particular rooms/areas.

Awaiting determination by state to allow mandating vaccinations for returning students.  Using surveillance testing of unvaccinated personnel to monitor risk and encourage vaccinations.

Not knowing what the updated state guidelines will be related to social distancing and sanitizing.

Updated guidance from CDC and local health departments.

None. We operated fully open school year 20-21 and believe we are well prepared to continue to operate fully open.


I have many delayed projects since monies were diverted from facilities for all of the emergency supplies and implementation of a campus-wide air scrubber system.

CDC making sudden decisions sometimes contradicting previous guidelines sections that apparently nobody bothered to read prior to release. Causing much internal confusion between the public, Facilities, Risk Management, and the collective bargaining units.

Resources, both people and financial.

Leadership at the Executive level.

Guidance or requirements from state/federal health authorities to ensure our own planning is consistent. We won’t want to have to pivot if their guidance is in conflict and comes too late in the reopening planning process.

More cleaning staff required.

More staff.

Faculty and staff don’t fully understand that vaccinations are significantly more effective in reducing their risk than HVAC filters, portable HEPA units, Plexiglas shields, etc…. Significant numbers of requests about and for these items continue to be submitted, despite the fact the campus has a vaccine mandate for faculty, staff, and students.

A consistent workforce.

Uncertainty of how campus will react coming back after being away for 18 months.

Acceptance of the vaccine.

Clear statements on the relative importance of the vaccine compared to ALL other mitigation measures.  People who are fully vaccinated want to be unmasked, forget about distancing and personal hygiene, but insist on seeing ventilation data!

Clear cut guidance from state and local agencies.

Waiting on a final decision on how we will operate when students return is putting off re-setting rooms, offices, conference rooms, etc. Until that final, final decision is made, we are in limbo.

Trust because there is still a large pool of individuals convinced of the worst.

Patience and understanding from non-essential staff returning from remote work who now expect their spaces to be returned to normal, now that they are back.

Direction from executives.


Our campus was open for face to face teaching during the ’20-’21 academic year so we are ready.

Direction from state and campus leadership.

Lack of staffing. We are in the process of hiring custodial staff so that we are able to clean at pre-pandemic levels.

More students to live in residence halls.

Having enough staff to start the fall semester.  Too many people not willing to work and collecting stimulus checks or unemployment payments.

Full vaccinations of all people.

Upgrading HVAC systems to higher MERV rated filter capability.

Finding custodial staff.

Staffing.  The combination of available jobs at higher wages external to the University and continuing federal stimulus is making it very difficult to recruit custodians, mechanics and groundskeepers.  Almost 40% of Physical Plant positions are currently vacant.

Lack of funding for HVAC improvements.

Firm decisions on campus occupancy from the academic side.

Proper reimbursement from FEMA. Approximately only 20% of requested reimbursement was funded.

Clear direction on social distancing requirements in classrooms.

Guidance from CDC/ODE regarding protocols for K-8 since most of our kids won’t be vaccinated yet.

Employees!  Hard to get people to apply for openings and come to work – all our current employees are working extremely hard, but we can’t get vacancies filled due to lack of applicants.

It has become very apparent that we will be very short staffed this fall. We have a number of individuals who decided to retire rather than return.  This is true for full-time labor staff and professional management staff especially at the front-line level.  So, in short, greatest need will be labor/staff.


Return of enrollment.

Low statewide vaccination rates need to go up.

The unknown of being exposed.

Staffing levels, especially at the lower paid positions (e.g. housekeepers).

Staffing shortages are very challenging to fill at the entry level positions in landscape services and custodial services.  Skilled trades and other areas are only moderately challenging to source and retain talent.

Planning for the worst outcome (outbreak levels rise again) and hoping for all the best.

Definitive guidance from the state on requirements.

Lack of clarity on physical distancing guidance for higher Ed facilities.


Full compliance with vaccination mandate.

Staffing levels.

The same labor shortage that is affecting the private sector, is impacting us but because our wages are set by our legislators since we are state employees, we do not have the ability to self-correct. With fifteen vacancies in a 90-person custodial crew, I am worried that once faculty, students, and staff return at full force, we will be unable to meet the current cleaning requirements or even our regular ones.

Decisions about requiring vaccinations for students, staff, and faculty have not been finalized but as I understand it, they will be required whenever the FDA certifies the vaccines and they are no longer classified as approved for emergency use. The timing of that approval may not work well for requiring vaccinations prior to returning to the campus for August opening. Because of this, many of our COVID processes for now remain in place. It is easier to pivot to less intensity than to relax processes and then need to reinstate them.

Vaccinated individuals.

More funds for HVAC modifications.

Ability to keep up with all of the federal, state and local public health directives.


Rational approach to the risk of disease transmission.

None. Campus will 100% reopen without any guidance from EH&S. (Like COVID-19 never happened.)



People will still be nervous about returning and IAQ will be a big topic.


Time constraints to get campus put back together.

Student vaccinations.