Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 3, 2020

University Of Iowa Condemns Faculty Sickout Protesting Campus Reopening Plan

Inside Higher Ed, University of Iowa Students and Faculty Stage Sickout Protesting Campus Reopening Plan:

Iowa Logo (2019)Faculty, staff and students at the University of Iowa staged a “sickout” Wednesday, the latest in a series of escalating calls to end face-to-face instruction during the pandemic. ...

Megan Knight, associate professor of instruction in rhetoric, participated in the sickout, including via this email autoreply:

I am away from my desk in recognition of today's “sick-out” event. This event is intended to communicate to the UI administration the urgent need for all classes to be moved to an online format immediately, to avoid furthering the public health crisis currently unfolding in Iowa City.

Knight said in an interview that there is “really a lack of leadership here and real confusion on my part as to, ‘OK, who’s in charge here? Who’s going to make decisions based on science and what we know about public health?’ It really feels like we’re at sea.”

The university publishes only self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff and students three times per week. On Monday, the most recent day for which numbers were available, there were 220 new student cases, for a total of 1,142 since the beginning of the semester on Aug. 18. There were three new employee cases, bringing the total to 16 this term.

As of Wednesday, Iowa City -- where the university is located -- was the fourth-worst U.S. metro hot spot for new coronavirus cases, relative to population, over the last two weeks, according to this New York Times database. (Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University, was the second hottest spot.)

Unlike many states, Iowa did not issue a stay-at-home order during the pandemic and has not issued a mask mandate. 

Iowa Gazette, University of Iowa leadership Condemns Faculty Planned Sickout:

After learning that some University of Iowa faculty and staff members plan to call in sick Wednesday to protest in-person instruction during the pandemic, Interim Provost Kevin Kregel condemned the threatened action and said it compromised “students’ ability to maintain the educational progress critical to their future success.

“I respectfully remind you that as role models, you have an obligation to deliver instruction as assigned, and to provide appropriate notice of absences due to illness,” Kregel wrote Tuesday in a broadly distributed message. “We also would expect appropriate documentation of sick leave usage.”



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This is interesting to me because University of Iowa did it right. They required everyone to wear masks from the beginning. They issued masks to the students. In our state, the universities were at first not permitted to require students to wear masks, and certainly that meant they were not going to supply the masks. Eventually, the state permitted universities to require masks. Thankfully. But the state did not go so far as to provide the masks. I think students, after seeing their classes thin out due to illness, will likely start being more careful. Another important lesson in college.

Posted by: allen | Sep 3, 2020 10:49:09 AM