Groups issue letter of censure against UVU administration over COVID-19 protocols | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy of Utah Valley University

President Astrid S. Tuminez stands in front of the UVU welcome sign Monday, August 23, 2021.

Two groups of Utah Valley University teachers released a letter of censure on Monday, saying the school administration’s response to COVID-19 was unacceptable.

A letter from the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and the David R. Keller chapter of the American Association of University Teachers at Utah Valley University addressed to the Council on Higher Education of the Utah publicly censured UVU’s administration – namely President Astrid Tuminez, Provost Wayne Vaught, and Val Peterson, Vice President of Administration and Strategic Relations.

“Having repeatedly expressed our continuing concerns about the failure of the university to adequately protect the health and well-being of our community…. [we] unfortunately resort to public censorship by our administration,” the letter read. “For tolerating unsafe and unhealthy conditions in work and learning spaces shared by students, staff, and faculty.”

According to the UVU website, the university currently recommends wearing face coverings in all buildings on campus. However, they are not mandatory. Additionally, UVU offers COVID-19 vaccinations at an on-site clinic. The university began requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the start of the spring 2022 semester.

However, according to the letter, both groups view UVU’s COVID-19 protocols as weak and unenforceable recommendations that appeared to be made to accommodate people who do not want to wear masks or get vaccinated.

“Far from protecting the university community, these protocols endanger it,” the letter read. “Furthermore, faculty have virtually no shared governance of these protocols, having received no real input into their development and implementation. Yet even as the university now finds itself unable to test, contact trace and monitor cases in the classroom, it is being looked at to modify courses to suit the health needs of faculty, staff and students. .

Both groups ended the letter by calling for the return of a mask mandate on campus and asked that faculty members be able to use online learning tools at their discretion, without fear of reprisal for the rest of the spring semester, and during all future semesters impacted by COVID-19.

Scott Trotter, senior director of communications at UVU, said the university has approached the pandemic in the same way as other universities in Utah and that requiring students to wear masks would violate state law. ‘State.

“We are approaching COVID the same as other universities in Utah. We are compelled by state law to require students to wear masks,” Trotter said. “We can encourage, what we do, but we cannot demand them. The people who wrote the letter are blaming us for state law, which makes no sense.

Rick McDonald, an English professor at UVU as well as AFT vice president and AAUP secretary, said both groups understand the legal constraints imposed on universities by the legislature, but hope that school administrators would push back against the legislature. in order to achieve stronger COVID-19 protocols.

“We knew coming in that the school was going to say their hands were tied by the legislature…we want them to push the legislature back like we push them back,” McDonald said. “We want to show that just because your boss tells you something you can’t tell your boss doesn’t mean he made a bad decision.”

Trotter provided the following statement on behalf of UVU:

“At Utah Valley University, we work closely with health experts to rigorously protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff within the confines of the law of the State. We constantly encourage everyone to follow COVID prevention protocols and, like many other universities, mandatory vaccinations for the spring semester with personal, medical, and religious exemptions, as required by law. Free tests, vaccinations and boosters are also available for students and employees on campus, and we are seeing record numbers of our UVU community being tested and vaccinated.

Courtesy picture

The letter of censorship addressed to the Utah Board of Higher Education.

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