UGA Faculty Raise Concerns About Reopening Plan

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

University of Georgia faculty are seeking reassurances from the administration about plans to reopen for in-person classes this month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is deeply regrettable that the UGA and [University System of Georgia] administrations have brought us so close to the opening of the Fall semester without a clear community understanding” of plans to keep faculty and staff safe, and how to handle a potential outbreak, according to a faculty Senate resolution.

The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Mary Frances Early College of Education faculty senates passed the resolution last week and sent it to USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley, UGA President Jere Morehead and other administrators.

Decisions are increasingly made by a small group of executives, and faculty, staff and students should have input, according to the resolution. It calls for town hall meetings “permitting all members of the community to speak freely and without fear of reprisal about their concerns about campus life during the continuing pandemic.”

No faculty or staff member or student should be required to teach, learn or work in person this semester, and there should be no penalty for working from home because of health risks or child-care issues, the resolution says. Nor should employees be fired, laid off or furloughed if their jobs can’t be done remotely.

It also calls UGA’s plan for testing 300 people per day “woefully inadequate,” as the seeds for any outbreak are likely to be sown in the first few days or weeks back on campus.

The resolution calls for guidelines triggering the closure of campus due to the contagion.

On a lone positive note, the resolution commends USG for requiring masks on campus.

The faculty groups requested a response by Aug. 4.

Graduate instructors are also pushing to be allowed to opt out of in-person instruction, and will present a letter signed by 1,000 grad students to the Board of Regents Aug. 6, according to the Red & Black.