More than 300 University of Georgia faculty members signed a column published by the Red & Black student newspaper today criticizing UGA’s plans for reopening.
“The resumption of in-person instruction at the University of Georgia as currently planned is unwise,” according to the column. “It is not grounded in evidence nor in the recent experience of other peer universities. Regardless of the precautions taken by the University on campus, both projections and experience suggest that a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 is inevitable unless there is an immediate change in plans for the fall semester.”
It cites Georgia’s status as the state with the highest rate of new daily cases and percentage of hospital beds occupied, as well as the recent outbreak at the University of North Carolina that forced the school to switch to virtual learning earlier this week.
In addition, a model by John Drake, director of the UGA Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, predicts that hundreds of students were already infected with coronavirus when they arrived on campus, and they will spread it to tens of thousands of other students, faculty and staff within the next two months, primarily through off-campus interactions.
“In short, the resumption of in-person instruction at UGA as planned is unwise and misaligned with evidence-based COVID-19 health guidelines. Depending on the ability and will of leadership to end this course of action, sooner rather than later, in-person instruction and the presence of students in Athens is likely to lead to hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of COVID-19 victims, with collateral health impacts on Athens-Clarke County, its hospitals and the region at large.”
To date, 318 tenured and nontenured faculty members have signed a petition associated with the column.
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