Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The plan is no plan

In fairness, my specific campus leadership are doing better within the constraints our legislators have imposed upon us as far as mask mandates, at least in terms of transparency, flexibility in how we manage our office hours and meetings, etc. Not so sure that's happening in the rest of the UA System, especially the flagship campus in Fayetteville, if this has any truth to it:

Also: A letter from a University of Arkansas staff member about preparations on campus for fall, with preventive hands tied by the legislature. An excerpt referring to a campus meeting:

I can sum it up in 6 letters. 1) NO PLAN and 2) for faculty members : WING IT. They don’t even have a plan for when they might pivot. Maybe they are waiting for the state or region to move to Allocation of Care (aka, incorrectly called Death Panels in the past) situations at the local hospitals.

It was absurd to watch all the participants (administrators) talk to each other face to face before it began online without masks. Then they virtue signaled, put on their masks, and sat six feet apart.

There have been numerous faculty who have sent emails up the food chain asking specific questions about our reopening that are getting ignored completely. It is not clear why we must be 100% open if that is a fear from the legislature or the U of A Board. Yes, all of us would love to be back to normal, but that is not the current state of the covid situation now. And yes, I wish everyone would get the vaccine. It is almost like we are playing the Hunger Games at the U of A by saying that you should just get vaccinated if you don’t like what is happening.

Many instructors are concerned as they have members of family under the age of 12. They don’t want to infect their children.

While I continue to pray that our students are more vaccinated than the state average and that nearly all of them will follow CDC guidance, I have to say that I bet we have at least 10 to 15+ classrooms around campus with more than 50 students absolutely jammed in shoulder to shoulder. There are two such classrooms in Hillside Auditorium (the largest), two in Chemistry, one in Gearhart (formerly Ozark), several in Science and Engineering, and probably several in Bell Engineering as well although I don’t think those rooms are as tight. There are also some in JB Hunt, perhaps Kimpel as well.

At some point, the question becomes, when will BOBBITT act? Are his hands tied for making safety decisions? These kids are going to spread Covid among themselves in this huge classes and then take it back to their families. Surely people are going to die from this decision to act like it is 2019 at the U of A.

So many faculty are perplexed. The instructors feel like they cannot ask questions or even comment as they fear for their jobs. It is a weird thing to ask about getting faculty N95 masks and have those emails outright ignored.

Then again, my experience with my state's legislators is that we faculty are the enemy. Not sure they're too thrilled with university students, either. Basically, my situation is that questions asked up the food chain do get answered, and I am grateful to have relatively good administrators here. They'll keep supplying PPE as needed, etc. We can't require masks or vaccines, but we are still allowed to make note that they are a good idea. I'd really say that, given the age of some of our buildings, trusting the ventilation systems is probably a really bad idea. But what do I know. 

Then again, there is a lawsuit being filed against the law preventing state agencies and school districts from mandating masks, and if that succeeds, then my system's board of directors will have to make some hard decisions. I'd say the rise in COVID-19 cases should make that decision easier. Better to have a plan very late in the game than continue to have no plan at all. Just good horse sense.

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