Monday, January 10, 2022

HSU Faculty Association Chapter Asks for Option of Virtual Teaching

Posted By on Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 1:33 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt State's Founders Hall. - FILE
  • FILE
  • Humboldt State's Founders Hall.
The Humboldt State University chapter of the system’s faculty association released a statement today urging the campus’ administration to approve any faculty member’s request to temporarily teach via virtual instruction.

“No faculty member should be forced to work in conditions that put themselves or their loved ones at risk, especially when there are alternatives,” the release states.

The local California Faculty Association chapter's release notes the contagious nature of the Omicron variant now spreading in Humboldt County amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the fragility of the local healthcare system, the fact that many other campuses in the CSU system are starting the spring semester online and that students were already mistakenly told the same would be occurring at HSU.

“CFA Humboldt believes that granting requests to postpone face-to-face instruction will keep our faculty, staff, students, and loved ones safer than otherwise and will alleviate the strain on our local health care providers,” the release states. “Health care justice requires recognizing the importance of context. No one should be required to put themselves of their loved ones at risk when time-tested short-term alternatives exist.”

Read the full release below:

ARCATA - The Humboldt State University Chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA) urges the administration of Humboldt State University (HSU), to approve all requests for temporary virtual instruction from those faculty members teaching face-to-face courses or who otherwise have face-to-face interactions with students. Faculty members have the right to request such a change in modality based on the Memorandum of Understanding between CFA and HSU Management signed and dated August 24, 2021. No faculty member should be forced to work in conditions that put themselves or their loved ones at risk, especially when there are alternatives.

CFA Humboldt urges administration to grant such temporary changes in modality due to the nature of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, in conjunction with conditions specific to our local context.  The Omicron variant is extremely contagious, and cases have been identified throughout California. In Humboldt County we are seeing our health care system heavily impacted and a shortage of testing kits at area drugstores. Due to the increased risk, many California State University campuses will begin the Spring 2022 term providing virtual, not face-to-face instruction. These campus locations include Los Angeles, Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, San Diego, San Marcos, Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, and East Bay - all campuses which do not have the challenges of our rural health care system.  Such measures help ensure the health and safety of the entire campus and local community.

Many faculty members who are scheduled to have face-to-face interactions with students have family members that are immunosuppressed and could inadvertently be infected.  Some faculty members are themselves particularly susceptible to infection. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) explicitly guarantees that no employee need to endure unsafe working conditions. Requiring employees to work in contexts that put themselves or their loved ones at risk flies in the face of the social justice values that HSU espouses.

Lastly, due to an error on the HSU scheduling website, students were already informed that the first two weeks of the semester would be online. This error was corrected just days ago. It is likely that beginning the semester in a virtual modality is already expected by many of our students.

CFA Humboldt believes that granting requests to postpone face-to-face instruction will keep our faculty, staff, students, and loved ones safer than otherwise and will alleviate the strain on our local health care providers.

Health care justice requires recognizing the importance of context. No one should be required to put themselves of their loved ones at risk when time-tested short-term alternatives exist.

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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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