As members of the Faculty and Staff at WM we are left with many questions about the "Path Forward" announced June 12th. The health, safety, and livelihood of all workers and students on campus should be the top concern of all members of this community, but the following issues must be addressed before we move forward with plans to open campus to residential life and teaching.
Testing and Tracing: It has been stated that testing is being developed in collaboration with UVA and VCU but we have seen no details. Who must get tested? How frequently? Who pays for it? What if a student, faculty or staff member is not covered by insurance for testing will W&M cover it? How will WM assure compliance with whatever testing and tracing procedures are developed? We expect that masks and other appropriate protective gear will be required for anyone entering the campus. What will the consequences be for those who can't or won't comply with these procedures.
The Right to Teach in Any Format: The administration must assure us that no member of the faculty, teaching staff, NTE, or graduate student will be required to offer their classes face to face for should they elect not to for any reason. Demanding that faculty justify their wish to teach via distance learning methods by disclosing their, or a household member's health status, or underlying conditions would constitute a HIPAA violation and expose the College to major liability claims. We expect that faculty wishing to offer classes in-person must opt in to this option.
Essential Services: Many workers on campus will be required to carry out their work in person each day if the campus is to open to residential life and in class teaching. We expect hazard pay for all workers who must continue to work on campus to compensate for their risk of exposure; as well as paid sick leave with benefits, now and in the future, for workers to care for their own health or that of a household member; to self-isolate to protect themselves and others; or to provide child care in the event that schools and child care centers close.
Accountability for Opening Campus: How will the College determine whether conditions warrant closing the campus to all activities? This is an especially challenging concern, given the fact that rates of transmission and mortality are currently worse across the country today than they were when WM and most other universities closed their campuses in early March. How many positive tests will constitute an outbreak that warrants a college-wide transformation? How many students can fall sick before a class is rescheduled or cancelled? How many students, faculty, or staff can die before the administration decides it is necessary to close campus? These thresholds are vital to a viable plan for returning to campus, and sharing these figures with all members of our community must be a priority.