Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

University Of Florida Denies Requests By 144 Faculty At High Risk For COVID-19 Complications To Teach Remotely In Spring Semester

The Independent Florida Alligator, ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way:’ UF Faculty Angry With COVID-19 ADA Accommodations for Spring:

Florida (2021)UF has denied 144 UF professors the ability to teach remotely this Spring, leaving some to feel like the university administration has put their safety at risk.

As of Sunday, 222 high-risk faculty members requested accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act, most asking to teach remotely. Only 78 people were granted that request, said Jodi Gentry, UF’s vice president of human resources, at a UF Faculty Senate meeting Nov. 19.

Instead, UF provided the remaining professors “enhanced classroom safeguards.” These include personal protective equipment like N95 masks and face shields as well as increased sanitation, wrote Hessy Fernandez, UF’s director of issues management and crisis communications, in an email. ...

Stephanie Smith, a 61-year-old UF English professor and cancer survivor who was denied a remote accommodation, said she didn’t feel UF could guarantee her safety.

Smith said she reached out to her physician at UF Health Shands Hospital, who warned her she was at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19 due to her past chemotherapy treatment.

Despite that, when she applied for remote teaching in the Spring, she was denied. That caused her to consider retirement for the first time in her 30-year tenure at UF, she said.

David Hackett (Florida), The Broken Promise of Spring Reopening:

The UF administration promised students there will be face-to-face teaching this Spring. You will soon discover this is not quite the case.

In order to please our state’s leadership and assure continued funding, President Kent Fuchs and Provost Joseph Glover have mandated that there will be as many face-to-face classes this Spring as last Spring. However, because of social distancing guidelines, about 15% of the seats in these classes will be live while the rest will be online. ...

Many faculty who are at greater risk of getting the virus because of their age and/or pre-existing conditions have been ordered to teach these live classes. However, the majority of the students taking these classes will be simultaneously instructed online.

Both live and online students in face-to-face classrooms will be asked to adapt to a situation where professors must divide their attention between both live and online students. ...

Why is the university telling students, their parents and the legislature that undergraduates can take live classes this Spring just like last year? None of the other Florida public universities treat faculty lives so cheaply.

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I have agreed with many of Mike Perry’s comments in the past – not this one. “And yet they also want older professors, who are at risk, to now teach classes in person.

Even “older” people with so-called co-morbidities have quite high survival rates, assuming the professorate is below 80. Also, I presume the professors are 6 feet away from the students. And, by the way, face shields are primarily recommended for hospital personnel who are exposed to patients expectorating.

I presume these professors are not food shopping, visiting big box stores, eating outdoors or indoors at restaurants, or visiting families. Perhaps they are – fear is an amazing thing. Perhaps they also shouldn’t drive, if they are aged – look at the death rates from driving a car.

This is not to say that some professor should not be allowed to teach remotely. And I doubt the administration is using logic – they are just afraid that students will not attend (pay) either at all or pay for housing to be taught by Zoom classes.

There is an undercurrent of class/status. Are the professors concerned for non-college teachers, supermarket workers, or janitors at U of F? There are lots of people with “higher” risk. What special accommodations should be made for them.

Posted by: aircav65 | Dec 5, 2020 7:56:37 AM

Andrew Bostom, an epidemiologist, stated "To conduct his research on the 100 colleges, Bostom said he underwent the “tedious” work of “Google searching” and relying on “local newspapers,” since college websites tend to hide this information.

He tallied 139,000 reported cases, which include tests that identified non-infectious fragments of viral RNA.

Ninety-two of the 100 schools reported no deaths or hospitalizations, though, and the other eight reported 17 hospitalizations together. Only the University of Dayton reported a COVID-19 death, according to Bostom’s tally.

For the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor flagship, the scare of more than 2,500 positive tests prompted the university to kick students off campus, “forcing thousands of students to stay home or find off-campus housing,” according to The New York Times.

Bostom’s list has the University of Michigan at 2,264 total positive tests, but no deaths or trips to the ER.

His skepticism of the testing regime is not new. (Tests are too sensitive.)

Perhaps the U of F faculty should follow the science.

Posted by: aircav65 | Dec 2, 2020 9:03:51 AM

Over and over again, I have asked myself, what's causing this epidemic of stupidity, particularly in university administrations? They shut down in-person classes despite the fact that students, being young, are at almost no risk from this virus. And yet they also want older professors, who are at risk, to now teach classes in person. And what sane professor wants to teach a class wearing a N95 mask and face shield?

Like I said, this is madness and stupidity on an epic scale.

Posted by: Mike Perry | Dec 2, 2020 6:25:23 AM

According to the American Council of Science and Health (2nd on my non-Google search engine), the death rate among those 64 and younger is .456%. One can only conclude that those teaching at the University of Florida are 1) quite old, 2) sickly, or 3) consumed with irrational fears. My oncologist told me that not all chemo increases the risk of dying from Covid (mine did not) and he can treat those who are. (Assuming my oncologist is not an unlicensed quack.)

On November 17, 1965, I really learned that I was going to die some day of something. (Currently, you can enlist at 17 with a parent’s signature, but not serve in a combat zone. They were not so fussy in the Vietnam era.) Now over 70 (1.7%), I take some precautions but I do not worry.

Posted by: aircav65 | Dec 1, 2020 11:15:49 AM