UC Santa Barbara’s Faculty Association published an open letter to Chancellor Henry T. Yang, the Academic Senate, UCSB’s Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall and the COVID-19 Response Team on Jan. 25, asking for “clarity, caution and flexibility” as students and faculty return to in-person instruction beginning Jan. 31.
The letter was posted by the UC Santa Barbara Faculty Association (UCSBFA) on Jan. 25, which is a voluntary, dues-supported organization representing members of the Academic Senate and dedicated to protecting faculty rights and the welfare of the UCSB community.
The UCSBFA asked administrators to adjust its Jan. 31 return to in-person instruction plan so that “individual instructors can exercise their judgment to continue with on-line instruction until at least Feb 14th without having to request a formal health exception,” the letter read.
“UC Santa Barbara’s decision to resume in-person instruction was made based on extensive consultation, including with the Academic Senate and students, and is consistent with the other UC campuses,” UCSB Spokesperson Shelly Leachman said in a statement to the Nexus.
“The message from our campus medical experts last week addresses many of the medical factors that were considered. The Academic Senate communicates directly to instructors regarding the Senate’s policies for instruction, which are based on the policies that were in place for the Fall Quarter.”
“Many faculty remain concerned over lingering dangers and inadequate classroom equipment and technological support to do their jobs safely and effectively. They share Teaching Assistant and student questions and concerns over a premature return to in-person instruction in light of incomplete data and limited staff support,” UCSBFA wrote in the open letter.
The letter requested several clarifications on policy, including the transparency of COVID-19 data being released.
“The current COVID-19 variant behavior model is based on England and South Africa data.* We request you share the data showing that the variant spike in California is adhering to predictions of a sharp decline rather than a high-level plateau,” UCSBFA said.
The letter also called for administration to clarify booster protocols and access to testing and safety equipment, and asked for acknowledgement of the difficulties that hybrid classes can have in regards to instructor workload.
“This mode frequently doubles workloads, which threatens to violate Lecturer and Teaching Assistant Union contracts signed for the 2022 Winter Quarter,” UCSBFA said in the open letter.
A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Feb. 3, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.