Concern for In-person Classes during the Omicron Outbreak

I have had numerous constituents concerns from the Vancouver campus. To summarize:

As the Omicron variant develops and we know more about it, it looks like the original message from December is already dated ( In particular, regular 2-dose vaccination is not as effective in combating Omicron, and the new strain is MUCH more transmissible. Would the administration take more active and targeted measures to avoid what likely will be super-spreader events starting next week when classes begin? Specifically, allowing for more flexible local responses from different campuses that reflect the situation on that specific campus.

I am also including a copy of a faculty request to the Vancouver administration that lists reactions that we believe are appropriate for Vancouver, but could be relevant to colleagues on other campuses as well.

December 29, 2021

To: WSUV Administration
From: Council of Faculty Representatives

Re: Spring 2022 COVID Request

On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, the Council of Faculty Representatives held an ad hoc meeting to address COVID concerns. Given that this week Washington State reported a record number of infections, the CDC has reported that anyone––including those who are vaccinated and boosted––can become infected with and spread the omicron variant, and that the prevalence of “long covid” is high even among those whose initial covid symptoms are “mild”, we request the following steps be taken for the spring 2022 in order to safeguard the WSUV community while continuing to provide high-quality education:

  1. Delay in-class instruction at least until the end of the big wave of infections predicted by experts to occur in January, instead providing instruction online during this period. This will reduce the incidence of illness in instructors, students, and staff thereby dramatically increasing our ability to offer a high-quality education despite inevitable community-wide disruptions, such as the closing of daycare centers and K-12 schools, and sharply limited staff at public agencies that provide essential services, such as maintaining roads during inclement weather. Many other universities have already taken this step.
  2. Update proof of vaccinations to require the booster shot
  3. Once face-to-face instruction resumes, provide high-quality N95, KN95, or equivalent masks to all students, instructors, and staff because cloth and surgical masks are ineffective in preventing infection with the omicron variant
  4.  Provide hand sanitizers in all classrooms and office
  5. Offer regularly scheduled testing regime on campus
  6.  Develop a publicity campaign to encourage reporting, testing, and protecting against COVID
  7. Provide faculty with information regarding vaccination status of students sooner than what occurred in the fall
  8. Revamp the COVID reporting so that it provides more exact information regarding exposure and infection rates and is easier for students to find
  9. Request WSUV’s COVID representative to the system’s safety committee to update CFR regularly about COVID planning and share our concerns with the system planners
  10. Clean classrooms and offices more regularly

While we are aware that WSU must meet the minimum state COVID mandates, we are suggesting that, in the best interest of the WSUV community, the university goes beyond these expectations.

Alex Dimitrov, WSU Vancouver Faculty Senator


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