Discussions Ongoing on Return to Campus

07 Jan Discussions Ongoing on Return to Campus

  • Class Formats in the New Year: First, of course, UICUF wants to wish all our members a very happy new year! At this time, the first two weeks of the semester will be remote.

  • Your Input Matters: Thank you to all who wrote with questions or concerns in the waning days of 2021 about the shift to remote classes. We shared many of these questions (anonymously) directly with Provost Reyes, and will continue to do so. So please continue to share your thoughts.

  • Ongoing Discussions w/the Provost: At this time we are anticipating meeting again with Provost Reyes next Tuesday, 1/11, to discuss implications for a return to campus after the planned two week remote period ends. Again, your input matters very much. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com

Dear Colleagues,

We hope you are enjoying the last few days of winter break, and the first days of a new year! 

As we reported in late December, we have been in discussion with Provost Reyes and his team about plans to hold the first two weeks of spring semester remotely because of rising COVID cases. We are pleased with Provost Reyes’s improved communication with UICUF, though we continue to advocate for bringing union representation into the decision-making process earlier to make collaborations more fruitful. 

Member Input is at the Forefront of Our Efforts
Before the break, we asked you for your input as union members on the last-minute decision to go remote for the first two weeks of spring semester, and we want you to know that we shared those concerns (anonymously) directly with the Provost during the winter break. We highly encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts on the evolving situation via email to us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. We will pass on questions, ideas, and concerns directly to the administration anonymously as a general rule. 

Here is a brief summary of the most commonly cited issues members have already brought to us to share with the administration: 

  • Several members expressed concern about the short notice of the decision, and when a follow-up decision would be made to return (or not) to in-person classes. UICUF asserted that the sooner such a decision could be made and announced, the better it would be for faculty planning their classes and other activities.

  • Relatedly, members were concerned as to how the remote versus in-person decision was made and how it will be made in the future. We have asked that decision-making and presumed red-lines for extending remote learning be as transparent as possible, and communicated as early in the process as possible. We’ve also asked that the administration include both the Union and the Senate as plans are formed, as opposed to giving us early notice of decisions that have already been made.

  • Faculty reiterated a concern that has been present since the start of the pandemic about the lack of personal discretion to choose online or in-person work based on their own health needs. Current processes based on a poorly aligned ADA process through the Office of Access and Equity, or based solely on the discretion of Heads and Deans for faculty to opt out of in-person work on a health basis, are inadequate and must be revisited.

  • Members pointed out logistical issues around getting a PCR test in a timely manner in order to return to campus. We have strongly suggested that the on-campus testing system be prepared to handle a massive rise in testing needs in the short-term to accommodate the stated requirements, and not rely on people doing these tests done at home or at potentially unregulated problematic outside testing sites.

Next Steps
We are pleased to say that we do anticipate meeting with Provost Reyes, along with many of the decision-makers in the administration, next Tuesday to discuss future plans for returning to campus, and other implications of the surge in COVID cases. Health professionals in the administration, as well as health professionals among our union leadership will be present. As before, we welcome input ahead of that meeting and will report back ASAP on the proceedings to give you the most timely information possible. 


UIC United Faculty


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