Some 300 faculty members and graduate instructors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have already signed a petition asking the institution to adopt remote instruction for the first four to six weeks of the fall semester, until “the more transmissible Delta variant surge is brought under control.” The petition notes that Chapel Hill has no vaccine mandate, no requirements for physical distancing in the classroom and no preplanned “off-ramp” for remote instruction.
“The time to act is now,” the petition, which is still circulating, says. “We, UNC-CH instructors, call upon Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin to delay in-person classes until the metrics improve. This is the only moral and compassionate path. We require bold and courageous leadership. The risks are too high.” Previously, the university’s faculty, employee, student government and graduate student government chairs published an op-ed in the student newspaper urging “a few weeks of remote instruction” to “allow our campus to get more people vaccinated.”
The South Carolina Conference of the American Association of University Professors is also asking state lawmakers to repeal legislation limiting COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The letter says that professors are not seeking “lockdowns, virtual learning or statewide mandates,” but rather the masking and testing that were “vital to the success of in-person learning” in 2020-21. The letter cites Indiana University’s recent legal victories regarding a challenge to its vaccine mandate, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s refusal to take up an emergency petition to block the mandate.
Irene Mulvey, president of the national AAUP, in a statement Monday urged “campus administrations to do everything possible to ensure the highest level of health and safety, and to follow the guidance of public health experts to use every available tool to protect students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities from further spread of COVID this fall.” Mulvey also said it’s “dismaying that some states are prohibiting institutions from implementing even the most basic public health and safety measures. The AAUP supports the rights of all faculty to organize against these prohibitions and work through their unions and shared governance bodies to ensure that appropriate health and safety measures are enacted.”