TRUMAN STATE AAUP CHAPTER RESPONDS TO COVID PREPARATIONS
Thanks to the great folks at Truman State for sharing this letter. Their concerns are doubtless shared by many of us. If you are interested in developing a state-wide document or set of guidelines, please contact Kathryn Kuhn (email@example.com), Marc Becker (Marc@ychana.org) or Stephanie Chamberlain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The AAUP statement on principles of shared governance during COVID can be found on the COVID Resources Page.
Open letter to the Truman academic community on the Covid-19 pandemic (June 29, 2020): The June 18 email from VPAA Janet Gooch to department chairs, thence the faculty, that includes plans for reopening the campus for the fall 2020 semester has raised serious concerns about both the decisions reached and also the manner by which they were reached. The Truman State University chapter of AAUP takes the position that both greater administrative transparency and increased shared governance with faculty are paramount in this increasingly uncertain and dangerous time. What we as faculty have been told about Truman’s plan to reopen in the fall leaves us concerned that public safety is not being adequately ensured. We urge the crafting of an openly circulated Truman Plan that takes possible middle- and long-range responses into consideration with clear and explicit attention to health risks for both the Truman community—students, faculty, and staff alike—and the wider Kirksville community. While acknowledging and appreciating the work that the administration has already undertaken in conditions of unprecedented strain and duress, we as faculty, in conjunction with Truman’s AAUP, respectfully request the following:
· greater administrative transparency and regularity in communication about the fall planning process
· increased faculty participation in the fall planning process, including, but not limited to, adding an AAUP representative to the planning committee
· heightened campus safety measures, including the following:
o requiring all students, staff, faculty, and visitors to wear face coverings in public buildings on campus
o providing students, faculty, and staff with an adequate supply of masks
o arranging class spaces for physical distancing and informing faculty of corresponding room capacities and approved social-distancing layouts as soon as possible
o establishing a protocol for cleaning classrooms between each class session
o establishing a protocol for the entry and exit of academic spaces in a way that ensures physical distancing and enables symptom checking (including temperature checks)
o installing HEPA-grade or equivalent filters into HVAC systems on campus to guarantees adequately filtered air ventilation in rooms
· the issuing of an openly circulated Truman Plan that describes Truman’s intended protocols for dealing with various contingencies: for instance, what happens when someone tests positive for COVID-19, what would happen if a classroom building had to be shut down suddenly for decontamination, what the conditions are which would trigger a return to fully remote learning, what the procedure is for making such a transition to remote learning, and so on. The plan should indicate concrete responses to specific circumstances: responses of the form, “If community infection rates increase by 25% over X period, Truman will…” We look forward to working with the administration, staff, and our students in bringing about a semester that is as optimally safe, educational, and rewarding as the current circumstances allow. In solidarity, Truman State AAUP
WORKING LIST OF ISSUES RELATED TO COVID-19 ACROSS MISSOURI
I. Health and Safety
Mask policy and policing
PPE requirements for clinicals
Social distancing in classrooms
Testing – what type and how often
Who is subject to required testing
What about asymptomatic people
What happens if someone tests positive?
What are arrangements for sanitizing spaces – who does it and how often
Mental health issues
What should a person do if they think they may have been exposed but are
II. Teaching and Curriculum
Do faculty have choices?
Availability of technology required to go online both for students and faculty
Use of non-teaching spaces
Effects on workload, eg. A/b scheduling
Policies regarding Zoom behavior and etiquette, attendance, etc
Intellectual Property rights
What happens if a faculty member becomes seriously ill – whose responsibility is it
to cover the courses
Program review, possible cuts and/or elimination
Conflation of COVID related costs with general financial crises
Pay cuts and other benefit cuts
Are administrators taking any such cuts
Maintaining usual patterns of decision making
Who exactly determines when or if an institution moves to and then from online
Accountability regarding maintaining safety and sanitary conditions
Changes in curricula or its delivery and effects on various disciplines must involves
faculty first and foremost
Use of Ad Hoc committees by upper admin to make important decisions
To whom does one report if they test positive.
What are the rights of those who do test positive
What are the rights of faculty to know that someone is positive
ADA issues for those who may require long term recovery
FML policies for those taking care of loved ones or for those who are ill – COVID may
last significantly longer than the legal requirements for paid leave
Childcare for those with children whose schools have moved to online only
Student activities both on and off campus
CDC GUIDELINES FOR UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
This is a highly informative and comprehensive set of recommendations directly tailored to higher education.
“Guiding Principles to Keep in Mind
The more an individual interacts with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in IHE non-residential and residential (i.e., on-campus housing) settings as follows:
IHE General Settings [IHE = Institutions of Higher Education]
- Lowest Risk: Faculty and students engage in virtual-only learning options, activities, and events.
- More Risk: Small in-person classes, activities, and events. Individuals remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
- Highest Risk: Full-sized in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.
IHE On-Campus Housing Settings
- Lowest Risk: Residence halls are closed, where feasible.
- More Risk: Residence halls are open at lower capacity and shared spaces are closed (e.g., kitchens, common areas).
- Highest Risk: Residence halls are open at full capacity including shared spaces (e.g., kitchens, common areas).”
Cleveland Clinic Guidelines
The Cleveland Clinic has developed guidelines for a range of workplaces, including education. They have a brief booklet, the final pages of which are the most useful.
American Council on Education Policy Statements
Ithaka S&R Findings from Ongoing Analysis of 57 Universities and Colleges
MOAAAUP — DEFENDING ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND SHARED GOVERNANCE ACROSS MISSOURI