Resolution

Resolution

Whereas Collin College faculty, administrators and staff have joined together in a
collaborative process of shared governance to translate the Board of Trustees’ vision
and strategic goals into a working plan of action,

And

Whereas it is essential that Collin employees actively participate in planning and other
strategic initiatives,

And

Whereas Collin College encourages and values the active participation of its faculty and
staff,

The Faculty Council therefore makes the following recommendations:
1) Administration and faculty participate in shared governance in regards to significant
changes to district-wide teaching modalities

2) We strongly recommend moving courses, when possible, to a fully online modality.
This will help ensure the health of our students and faculty and will provide enough time
to reach the pedagogical excellence that Collin College strives to achieve

3) If a fully online modality is not possible, the following should be implemented:

a) Any faculty member who requests to teach online should be given the option

b) Require the use of masks by faculty, students and staff

c) Require social distancing in classrooms

d) Provide adequate PPE, including sanitizers, gloves, masks, etc., for faculty
teaching in the classrooms

e) Develop a detailed plan, within the guidelines of shared governance, regarding
instances where students and faculty have tested positive for Covid-19. The plan
should address quarantine procedures, academic continuity, enacting FMLA and
workers’ compensation

Collin College and Concerns about Re-opening in Fall 2020 during the COVID Pandemic:

Discussion and Proposals

Over the last two weeks, Collin faculty have been made aware of the College’s plan to adopt a
pilot schedule structure for Fall 2020 classes. This structure appears to be a combination of
online and face-to-face learning with modalities including hybrid, blended, and/or alternating
student group attendance within a class.

Assumptions underlying reopening with a hybrid or in-person model:

1. That the reported numbers of those currently infected with COVID-19 A) are accurate,
even considering pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people and B) are holding steady
or trending downward, representing a lower risk than we faced in Spring 2020

– As of June 2020, Texas is reporting record-breaking numbers of COVID-19
hospitalizations (not positive tests, which can be interpreted in various ways)1

– See charts below from the TDHS: positive cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities
continue on a steep upward trend with no signs of abating2

2. That moving student desks six feet apart and having some people wear masks is
adequate to protect all parties from exposure to the virus

– According to infectious disease experts, we can think about risks for contracting
COVID-19 in terms of diversity, distance, and duration. Diversity (number of
households people are in contact with), distance (especially if indoors, especially
less than 6 feet), and duration (time spent in the same air space as others).

– In a classroom where (for example) 15 students are seated at distanced
intervals, diversity is HIGH; distance is LOW (but only if they never get up from
their desks, walk close to anyone, approach the professor, or touch common
doorknobs, papers, chairs, keyboards, phones, or desks); and duration is HIGH,
especially for faculty.

– The risk of infection is more than 18 times higher indoors compared to outdoors3

– Exposure to small amounts of the virus over time can be as dangerous as
high-level one-time exposure (faculty will have highest duration of exposure as 4
they are required to meet every student group even as students’ attendance is
reduced

– Shared airspace is a far higher risk for transmitting the virus than touching
objects , and remaining six feet apart does not protect against aerosolized virus, 5
the dominant route of infection with COVID6

– Simply talking without a mask can expel aerosolized virus droplets that linger in
the air for up to 14 minutes7

– Are HVAC systems in classrooms rated to filter the virus out of the air? If not, do 8
the HVAC systems blow air from one room into the next?

– Hallways and restrooms, where social distancing is impossible to enforce, also
feed into the HVAC syste

– From ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning
Engineers): “infectious aerosols emitted from a primary host shrink rapidly to
become droplet nuclei, and these dormant yet infectious pathogens remain
suspended in the air and are capable of traveling great distances.”9

– ASHRAE Position Document on Infectious Aerosols recommends specific HVAC
strategies for businesses that are not health-care facilities (see footnote)

3. That all parties involved will follow strict “personal responsibility” model of health, safety,
and hygiene, if such a standard is even possible

– Students are less likely than faculty or staff to take proper precautions, mainly
due to age differences. Risk-taking behavior peaks in people ages 20-24 around
the world10

– Incidence of COVID-19 among people ages 0-19 and 20-39 has doubled from
20% to 40% of all cases, showing a steep increase in infection in younger people

– How will social distancing be maintained when people enter or exit classrooms,
especially classrooms with a single door?

– How will social distancing be maintained when students want to talk one-on-one
with faculty (e.g. a FERPA-protected topic)? Almost no faculty offices are large
enough to permit social distancing

– How will social distancing be maintained in public restrooms, hallways, and
narrow stairwells?

4. That faculty can reasonably increase their workload by 1.5 to 2 times without harmful
effects

– New teaching models require dramatic increase in work hours and productive
energy, which will take its toll on faculty physical health and immunity15

– Extra work has no plan to be compensated beyond normal salary

– Increased duration of exposure to students increases risk to faculty’s physical
health

– Psychological stressors, including overcommitment at work and anxiety over
workplace safety, are directly tied to reduced immune function16

5. That asking people who feel sick to not come to campus is an adequate preventive
measure

– Nearly half of patients who get COVID-19 are infected by people who are not yet
coughing or sneezing (“pre-symptomatic”)17

– 30-50% of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, , meaning they 18 19
do not feel ill over the course of the infection, but can still carry and spread the
infection through respiratory and other secretions

– Pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers will not feel sick or have a fever, and
therefore temperature checks and self-monitoring symptoms are very limited in
preventing spread of the virus

– Many people ignore or rationalize symptoms because they perceive the cost of
missing work or important content to be too great

– Symptoms of COVID-19 are still extremely variable and not entirely known by
health experts (e.g. skin lesions, eye discharge, loss of appetite)20

– Faculty asking students who appear ill to leave the classroom may be violating
disability or privacy rights

– What about those who come to campus infected and do not disclose their status?

6. That there’s a realistic and effective way to keep track of who may be sick

– The variety of people and the households they’ve been in contact with (called
“diversity” by epidemiologists) is impossible to control, even in a hybrid model

– Factors such as students going to the restroom, hugging or touching other
people, leaving campus, interacting with friends and family, going home, and
coming back are all uncontrollable for tracing the virus

– How will college employees have the ability to protect themselves from exposure
to pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people, or to those who have been exposed
to infected people?

– What is the plan for not if, but when, a student tests positive for the virus? Will all
of the student’s classmates and professors in every class have to be quarantined
for 14 days?

– What is the plan in case a faculty member tests positive for the virus? How will
faculty meet classes if they have to quarantine or are too sick to work?

7. That the lack of access to personal computers and stable internet, especially among
rural and lower socio-economic students, will be addressed by a hybrid model of learning

– A hybrid or blended model still requires students to use their own technology a
significant portion of the time

– Asking students to use computers on campus (such as in classrooms or
computer labs) exposes them to extra risk by using high-touch surfaces that
require constant cleaning and disinfection21

8. That the unique and rich experience of classroom teaching will mostly be maintained
despite all the changes to seating, scheduling, and logistics

– Removing small group work undermines ability to share ideas and interact on a
human level

– If professor remains at podium for safety, this reduces all classroom learning to a
passive lecture model, severely limiting teaching methods, and may not be
appropriate for many courses or instructors

– It is not feasible for students to use the podium, computer keyboard, or other
presentation tools since the objects would have to be cleaned between each use
(cleaning staff will already be overtaxed with new requirements for classrooms
and high-touch areas)

– Even in-class work on paper is risky, as virus can remain on paper from a few
hours up to a few days22

– Cost of lapel mics and other ameliorating technology could instead be used to
buy laptops that students can check out if they lack proper access for distance
learning

– Climate of anxiety in the classroom – data show the least successful learning is
done in a stressful or fearful environment, and ethically students should not have
to feel unsafe in the classroom

– In the U.S. 31% of college students already meet requirements for “moderate” or
“severe” anxiety23

– What about students who need accommodations?

– Those who are hard of hearing cannot lip-read a masked person

– Masks muffle speech and decrease volume by 3-4 decibels, adding
challenges for those listening24

– Support staff are at increased risk of exposure (e.g. interpreters,
note-takers)

– Students who normally need to sit up front now have distance from the
professor to consider

9. That most students’ expectations for a quality education will be met with the pilot
program of hybrid, blended, 8-8, and other mitigating models

– Faculty were informed on June 11 that Collin students had been surveyed about
their preferences for Fall 2020, and that overall the majority said they wanted to
have classes in person.

– How and when were students surveyed?

– When asked if they wanted to attend in-person classes for Fall, was it
made clear to students that it would look very different than it did in
previous semesters?

– How many students responded to the survey?

– Are faculty able to see the survey that was administered?

– Despite this information, online enrollment at Collin is currently surging, with
face-to-face class enrollment declining

– Will students who indicated a preference for face-to-face learning have the option
to join classes with F2F components? Will those who prefer online learning have
the choice to take online classes? If not, what is the method and rationale for
matching student preference with actual class enrollment?

– If the college waits until mid August or later to announce major schedule
changes, such as a move back to mostly online, is it acceptable to have students’
semesters disrupted again?

Conclusions

– The hybrid model proposed for Fall 2020 poses an unacceptable health risk not
only for faculty, who have the highest duration and exposure of all, but for students, who have no way of knowing how they are being kept safe from the
virus.

– The benefits of in-person teaching and learning are severely reduced, if not
completely undermined, by the proposed (and insufficient) safety measures.

– The main challenges of the shift online in Spring 2020 were not due to the online
medium itself, but to the inability of faculty and students to prepare and
adequately train for the shift.

– Faculty have not been consulted about their willingness to teach face-to-face in
the current pandemic situation with the exception of being told to contact HR if
they have a documented health condition that requires accommodations.

– Faculty have been given no authority to require students to wear masks or to
adopt specific health behaviors beyond encouraging “personal responsibility.”

– Faculty are not “essential workers” and have not been trained to work in
high-risk health environments.

– Faculty are not expendable and should not have to choose between exposure to
intolerable health risks or losing their professional career.

Proposals

1. Collin College should adopt a stance that prioritizes health and safety of students,
faculty, and staff

2. In doing so, the college should make the decision as soon as possible to move all
courses online for Fall 2020 (with specific exceptions, perhaps such as science labs,
which may require an in-person component)

3. If the move online is impossible, faculty should at minimum have the ability to opt out of
teaching face-to-face if they are uncomfortable doing so. Even if they do not have a
documented health condition or high-risk family member that would allow for
accommodations, the unknowns about the virus combined with the fact that it is novel
(mean that no one is immune) make it more important than ever that faculty’s sense of
safety should be held in the highest regard.

4. Opting out of F2F teaching could reasonably require faculty to demonstrate ability to use
distance learning tools and mastery of online pedagogical methods. The college could
use the next ten weeks in part to offer support to faculty who wish to improve their online
teaching skills.

5. The college should involve the Faculty Council and the community of employees in its
decision-making about face-to-face learning during a pandemic (beyond the COVID-19
Recovery Plan, faculty should be involved in the decisions about instruction methods
such as hybrid vs. online and how often they will be physically exposed to other people)

6. The college should be more transparent about its decisions, especially when it so
dramatically affects the health of its employees. Ideally college leadership should share
its plans for managing safety during COVID, as well as communication with students on
a website that is accessible by employees, if not by the general public.

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