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Washington State University
Washington State University Responses to Constituent Concerns

Parking Inflation

In a moment where inflation is at a 40-year high and salaries remain both consistently low and stagnant (in the midst of inflation, the lack of even of a cost of living adjustments constitutes a pay cut) for faculty and staff, the possibility of a parking hike is both outrageous and predicable given the leadership of this university. What is the faculty senate doing to increase salaries for faculty and staff; what efforts are being made to combat the level of inflation not only seen nationally but in our own backyard .err parking lots?

Dr. David Leonard
School of Languages, Cultures and Race

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Costs to Move The President Downtown

What are the costs of moving the president and the Office of the President to Downtown Pullman? What are the costs of moving the chancellor/provost into the president’s former office suit? What are the benefits, beyond symbolic?

Like concerns about the creation of more administrative positions, one has to question if this is a priority given the ongoing budgetary challenges and the endless demands to faculty and staff to do more with less.

David Leonard
School of Languages, Cultures and Race

 

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Vice-chancellor Position & Administrative Expenses Concern

One of the constituents in my college has concerns about the new vice-chancellor position.

“In light of WSU’s higher than average expenditures on administration versus instruction compared its peers. I think the senate should consider if this new vice-chancellor position is actually needed, and should open a dialogue with the Pullman Chancellor concerning this issue.”

https://www.howcollegesspendmoney.com/

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Constituent Concern Re: Land Grant Revenue

How does WSU spend ‘Grant Lands’ revenue?

During the December 9, 2021 Faculty Senate meeting with Provost Chilton and VP Pearson regarding the WSU budget plan, I asked for information regarding the annual revenue produced by tribal lands granted to WSU in 1890. Provost Chilton helpfully suggested that I provide my questions in writing so that they could be addressed more fully. I did so later that evening in an email that simply restated the information I provided during the Faculty Senate meeting:

In 1890, our institution was granted 90,000 beneficial acres of tribal land that was appropriated as part of the Morrill Act of 1862. According to data that accompanied the April 2020 High Country News article by Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone, called “Land-Grab Universities,” the Washington Department of Natural Resources continues to manage 71,147 acres of that land in what is called the Agricultural School trust. I visited the DNR webpage to learn more about the revenue generated by the “Agricultural School Grant (WSU) Lands”. The DNR website provides pdfs of annual reports going back to 2003. Over the last 18 years, WSU has enjoyed approximately 84.5 million dollars of revenue from those lands, most of it coming from selling timber. According to the DNR annual reports: “All revenue from these lands is income for the trust and is divided between the Agricultural College Permanent Account and the WSU Bond Retirement Account.”

In light of that information, I’m trying to get a better understanding of how WSU spends the funds in the Agricultural College Permanent Account and the WSU Bond Retirement Account. I have two questions:
1. Are there certain expenses that, by law, can or cannot be covered with these two accounts, or does the administration have full discretion over how the land grant revenue is spent?
2. What percentage of this multi-million dollars annual revenue stream goes to directly support Native American students, staff, and faculty each year?

As of noon today, I have not received answers to these questions. Note that I’m submitting this comment here not because I expect a response from Faculty Senate leadership, but mainly with hope that Provost Chilton and VP Pearson can simply post the answers directly to this public forum. Many faculty are interested in the answers. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Luke Premo (CAS)

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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 (https://from.wsu.edu/covid-19/2021/omicron-variant/email.html). 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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Problems with curricular “compromise,” and a request for change.

The many problems with the curricular “compromise” that pits diversity courses against EQJS. Students should be required to take EQJS and Diversity courses. Make real change.

I oppose the change to the university diversity requirement as currently configured. As someone who played a role in drafting of the original proposal, this purported compromise renders the potential progress in this curricular change null and void. The shift to allowing students to pick between diversity and EQJS is a HUGE step backward, a betrayal to the work of the committee, to the demands from students over the years, and an afront those efforts to address campus climate and systemic inequities that plague our communities. Institutionally, it would harm the work we do in CES. It will hurt our unit, SLCR, as it will create a division between courses that are seen as “good” (i.e., DIVR) and those that are “bad” (EQJS). In a moment where attacks against teachings about racism are widespread, such a movement further the demonization of this work and will invariably lead to less investment and further retreat, not more. Simply, it is the wrong move.

Last summer, the university administration and departments across the university made statements in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and countless other incidences involving anti-Black racism. Is this the change that was requested? The change that was promised? A choice between confronting racism, power inequities, privilege or learning about diverse histories, cultures, and experiences? Why not both? Given the gravity of the issues, and the stated institutional commitment, shouldn’t the changes lead to more, not less? Should we not demand more of ourselves, not less. Or were those words merely performances of hollow rhetoric that never sought true policy decisions and changes?

Something to consider: why are students being asked to choose between DIVR and EQJS? Why not choose between EQJS and ROOTS or SCCI? Why cannot students choose across UCORE as there are overlaps across each category? What is the rationale? The point of creating a new category like EQJS was that these classes would do fundamentally different things from the ones under DIVR. There is overlap but that can be said about any two courses under any two designations. The logic with the way the proposal was redesigned is flawed. I doubt anyone ever suggested that students should be able to choose between SCCI and BIO. Yet, they have created a proposal where students choose between learning about diversity and learning about power and privilege. Very revealing.

The “compromise” is no compromise but a betrayal of the fundamental efforts to transform the curriculum. It is a betrayal of student demands, of those who have spoken their truths in the name of change. It is more of the same, at best. At worst, it will lead to harm to our students, our unit, and the undermining of the work we do. Just as the past “revision” to the curriculum led to less curricular emphasis on DEI courses, and an undermining of the units doing this work, this rebranding of the current shortcomings of the curriculum, will cause more harm than good. It represents a failure to the work that was done, the demands of students, and the moment we are living.

Lastly, if the UCORE committee and faculty senate are going to promote EQJS in other units, I would hope that other units would be encouraged and empowered to also teach ROOT, COMM, or WRTG courses since it is clear that the university believes that faculty across the university can teach anything and everything. It might be beneficial for the those in positions of power to recognize the expertise and pedagogical challenges of these courses, empowering those units and their faculties to teach these courses. This effort to further dilute programs such as CES and WGSS speaks to yet another failure of this proposal and WSU’s alleged commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. It proves yet again that the stated commitments to change, to justice and inclusion, are hollow, superficial, and without the needed resources and commitment to institutional transformation.

David Leonard,

School of Languages, Cultures, and Race

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Inability to give ‘soft money’ technicians a pay raise

One of my faculty constituents wants to give a field technician a raise. This technician is essential to the program, has a Ph.D. and is supported by grant funds (soft money). This particular program has a history of losing field technicians due to non-competitive salaries. The faculty member would like to know why WSU wants to control the ability of faculty to give raises to employees that are funded from grants and/or commission funds. The department chair approved the raise but it was denied at a higher administrative level. The faculty member has heard from two other faculty with the same concern.

Michael Neff, – Crop and Soil Sciences

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Written policy on non vaccine compliance

I understand that Oct 4th is the last day for faculty, staff, and students to finish their vaccine regimen. To continue operations with potential employee loss after Oct 18, unit leadership needs written policies that include

1) Classified Staff. Since these staff members are under a collective bargaining agreement, will this be different than AP Staff? What will happen if they have not either been vaccinated or granted an exemption by this date

2) Undergraduate students who are also WSU time slip employees.

3) Career track faculty

4) Tenure track faculty

5) Graduate students. Will grad TAs lose tuition waivers?

We need a clear written policy in order to plan.
Thank you.

Greg Crouch, Department of Chemistry

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Updates on COVID precautions

I appreciate the prior responses from administration. However, I and many of my colleagues and students are wondering where are the updates on WSU COVID vax rates and response rates as the deadline for reporting status for faculty, staff and students has passed? The last update seems to have been late Aug, and I have noticed the Whitman county COVID infection rates are rising precipitously, with overall vax rates for the county not really changed. Where does WSU stand?

Also, the UW has really prepared well for the quarter. They have a UW COVID dashboard, ongoing testing through the Husky Testing program, some schools and programs provide remote accommodations this quarter for immunocompromised individuals and people with unvaccinated children. The UW has made all of these things happen. Where does WSU administration stand at this point? I had understood there was some discussion of a dashboard being reinstated? Is anyone tracking and reporting positive cases on campus?

 

-Susan Collins, Psychology

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Concerns about salary being offered permanent employees in Spokane

We have been trying to hire research staff. As everyone has heard, Spokane is getting very expensive. I was shocked to see the salary we were approved to offer, which was $31k for a research study assistant position for a candidate who has a bachelor’s and is 3 years postbacc (but had not had prior research experience). It was just about 300% the poverty level in Spokane (which is a level where benefits could even start kicking in). We were able to get up to $34k, but that’s not a lot better, and we have learned our offers are just not competitive other academic institutions.

As a point of comparison, in Cheney WA where I live, the McDonalds has a sign outside that says “$14.00/hr crew team member, including minors.” That is reiterated here on indeed.com: https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Part%20Time%20McDonalds%20Crew%20Member%20%2420%2C000&l=cheney%20wa&vjk=98d49cf9724db5d8. That means the Cheney McDonalds is hiring minors who could make a yearly salary of only 5k less** than we are offering. In Cheney. High school students. Working the line in fast food.

I agree McDonalds should finally pay people a livable wage for the hard work they do. But so should we.

And our job requires a bachelor’s degree and a lot of skill managing complex psychological surveys, data collection, protection of data integrity and confidentiality, videoconferencing, computer equipment, payments to participants.

I talked to HR and they said it would be best to go to the faculty senate to discuss changes to be made. I know this isn’t about faculty issues per se. But the thing is, if we are talking about being a land-grant institution that cares about communities, we cannot have faculty making that much more than our staff? People need a livable wage, and WSU is not offering research staff a livable wage at the current levels we keep seeing — or we have to push really really hard to get to a remotely doable wage for our staff.

**I know we also offer benefits, but people need money to pay their bills, too. Retirement and health care are important, but do not fix that fundamental issue of needing salary that can pay bills right now.

 

-Susan Collins, Psychology

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Constituent Concern: Communication from Central Administration

Faculty and staff receive numerous email communications from the central administration regarding COVID-19 policies, return to work policies, memoranda regarding instruction, and the like. Unfortunately, I have found many of these communications to be poorly written and/or organized, both in terms of the email text and associated attachments, and many contain links that are either broken or that point to pages that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

Taking the time to wade through the avalanche of communications is time consuming, and it is especially frustrating when these communications do not convey important information in a cogent matter. I ask that the administration take the time and care to check the accuracy of all communications sent to faculty, staff, and students, ensuring that links point to the content they are intended to point to, and that critical information is conveyed more clearly rather than with some vague statement(s) that point(s) to a link to follow for further instructions or information.

I use the Provost’s memorandum on fall 2021 instruction (dated 10 August 2021) as an example.

1. Faculty who wish to obtain an exception to the F2F default teaching modality can claim a medical exception. The memo provides information (page 2, item #1) on HR processes, and a link to this site: https://hrs.wsu.edu/covid-19/. If you navigate to this site, it is not clear where you need to look or what you need to do in order to obtain the medical exception. There is a small box outlined in yellow with a link to HRS Disability Services, and this appears to be where faculty need to navigate to check on the medical exception. I’ve had several faculty tell me that they cannot find the information necessary to complete a medical exception, so I’ve had to take time out of my day to help them navigate this process. This is both frustrating and an inefficient use of my time. It really would not take much effort or thought to have a very specific section on the HRS page for medical exceptions (e.g., “Please Click Here for Medical Exceptions as Outlined in the Provost’s Memorandum”, set off from the rest of the generic HRS page so that faculty and staff can easily navigate to the appropriate site). One needs to navigate through 2 additional links to find the necessary form! This is highly inefficient.

2. Faculty who choose option #2, the designated SO (some online) option of delivery, must conduct at least 25% instruction F2F and meet 1 of 4 different avenues to be in NWCCU compliance. This is noted on page 3 of the memo. If one were to choose option 2 or 3, going through AOI, there are further notes to “Instructions will be sent out by AOI shortly on how to request this credential” – this credential is the remote instruction certificate through Badgr. I do not recall seeing any information from either AOI or Badgr. As of this writing, at least 1 of my faculty members has informed me that there are no available trainings, but that AOI intends to have one in September and one in October. That is a bit late in the game — it’s August 30, a week after the start of the semester, and the remote instruction is supposed to be completed by August 2021.

3. Related to #2, there is a link in the Provost’s memo to trainings from AOI (item 3 on page 3 of the memo) – the link takes you here: https://li.wsu.edu/trainings-workshops-tutorials/workshop-schedule/. Similar to the link to HRS for medical exceptions noted in #1 above, it is not clear what one must do or where to look for courses / trainings that satisfy the so-called remote instruction credential. You have to dig a little further on the page to find the correct information, and that is another click away. Once again, it would not be that difficult or too much to ask to have a very clear section that is highlighted so that faculty can easily navigate to find the appropriate information, preferably in a single click.

I submit this information both as a concern of my own and as a Faculty Senator who is representing constituents on the Spokane campus.

In summary, much of the information coming from the central administration lacks clarity. We must have information presented to us both in a timely manner and in a cogent format that allows us to navigate to the appropriate place easily and quickly. We’re all intelligent people, and we know how to find information. The fact that so many of us have struggled and continue to struggle with messaging from our administration is both unfortunate and unnecessary, it just detracts from the work we all want to do and that we are paid to do.

Glen Duncan, Professor and Chair, NEP

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Constituent Concern: COVID 19 Budget Issues and Priorities

Today VP of Finance and Admin, Stacy Pearson, circulated a letter concerning budget stress due to COVID 19 and subsequent budget priorities. It seems unbelievable that during this crisis WSU administration elected to shift $2,000,000 from student revenue to support the football program. Then our new football coach, the highest paid state employee at about $3,200,000 annually, broadcast to the nation that he did not intend to get vaccinated for personal reasons — a statement clearly contrary to the best interests of WSU. Perhaps the faculty senate could encourage the administration to (1) revisit the football budget in light of recent developments, and (2) explore details of the head coach’s employment contract to determine if termination or other administrative action is possible. If WSU can terminate or demote a provost after only six weeks, surely we can do the same with a football coach, especially with an eye toward recouping the head coach’s obscene salary.

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More Questions & Clarifications on Information Provided

1) About the welcoming week events:

a. Why did the university sponsor and seek outside sponsorship (BECU) for unmasked and densely populated events to take place before classes started? (CougsGlow dance party = https://twitter.com/WSUPullman/status/1428951054335438848
b. What safety measures were in place?
c. Were vaccinations required at the door to get into these events? (As a point of comparison, real actual nightclubs in my community require vaccination proof PLUS masks at the door before entry. As an institution of higher learning, we should be held to a higher standard than nightclubs.)
d. Why did the university wait to announce universal masking until AFTER welcoming week events started? Why did they wait until after Gov Inslee had released the state mandate?
e. For all of these decisions, what reasoning was used to make these decisions?

i. what risk-to-benefit ratio or health economics modeling was considered?
ii. What ethical implications did the Administration consider here?

2) About the WSU COVID policy / FAQs

a. Where is the complete WSU COVID policy viewable? Not FAQs, I mean really.
b. Who is making these decisions about WSU COVID policy?
c. What are their public health qualifications?
d. Have faculty who teach, students, staff, adjacent communities, public health officials been invited to contribute to, see or comment on our institution’s full COVID policy?
e. How exactly has the rapid surge of the delta variant influenced policy? (NOT referring to the governor’s more recent masking and vaccination mandates. Those are WA state mandates. Not from WSU and were not institutionally in place before the state mandate.)
f. Why are the FAQs and multiple emails are not consistent. Here’s an example: “If vaccinated, wearing a mask is optional.” https://ehs.wsu.edu/public-health/distancing-and-disinfection-plan-2/. I know that’s not true, but it’s still in the policy. there are numerous examples of these inconsistencies.
g. How are we supposed to act according to state law and a singular policy if the policies do not always follow state law and are inconsistent?
h. What punishment will staff, students, faculty take if they enact something one way that is in line with the policy but it is at odds with another policy point due to internal inconsistency?
i. What punishment will be meted out to faculty, staff and students who refuse to follow policies to protect their own, their families and their communities’ health? Some of us have professional ethics we are obliged to follow. What can we expect? Will we lose our jobs?

3) Mask Mandates:

a. It says on FAQs that instructors can take off their masks at 6’ distance. This would be out of compliance with state law. How is this possible?
b. It says face shields and plexiglass may be available. But these DO NOT WORK and may make things worse by giving people a false sense of security and by disrupting the airflow to even negatively impact the circulation. The CDC does not recommend them. Why do the covid policies negate the science and even the CDC?
-Face shields do not work: https://nyti.ms/3kvxPZg
-plexiglass does not work: https://nyti.ms/3gy3Pur

4) Vaccination mandates:

a. Now that one of the vaccines has full FDA approval, is the personal reasons mandate for students gone in 45 days from 8/24? Or does that clock start when all three have full FDA approval? Why 45 days? Why not now?
b. Is that new documentation for religious/health reasons now in place as promised on the FAQs?
c. What requirements are there are that people register their documented vaccination status? What consequences do they face if staff, faculty or students fail to register their status THIS semester? I read things “may” happen this semester, but it’s unclear—just a hold on classes for students for next semester – what about this semester? what about for faculty and staff?
d. I read HR is “working on” ways to verify status. Why was this not done over the summer? When will vaccination status actually be established?
e. Why does administration refer to us as a “fully vaccinated” university, when we are NOT? At this point, we are — from a public health perspective — no better than institutions in Texas (except for some of those have acknowledged that and gone on line). Good intentions for future enforcement do not matter to the COVID virus. We are at high risk currently. We are not a fully vaccinated institution, please clarify.

5) The In-person Teaching/Learning Mandate:

a. What was the reasoning behind insisting vehemently on in-person classes BEFORE everyone was to provide documented proof of vaccination (or documented medical/religious reason)? That is nonsensical from a public health perspective. The fact is that staff, faculty do NOT have to be fully vaccinated until 10/18. Students still have a loophole of personal reasons until 45 days after full FDA authorization. This means we are unprotected for the first two months of class at least—likely longer. Again, as administration considers these questions, I ask them to remember that nightclubs are requiring proof of negative tests or vaccination cards and masks at the door before entry.
b. Why are there no accommodations for students, staff and faculty to work remotely—particularly those with unvaccinated children and family with underlying health conditions?
c. Why did the administration falsely indicate that our accreditation required going back in person, when this is verifiably false (https://nwccu.app.box.com/s/r2ircwnz8o0hkdrranqnzs0njwdl0tun), which was confirmed by an administrator at NWCCU.
d. Distancing is no longer required because the “requirements no longer apply to fully vaccinated institutions.” Again, we are not fully vaccinated. WSU doesn’t even have everyone’s status reported, much less proof that we are “fully vaccinated.” Further, this is truly unjustifiable because the policy reads as if it is based on the time from before delta, which is far more transmissible, in a far lower amount of time of exposure, and even outdoors. how is this justified? the only justification I can find is that it’s not state law. Again, that’s a low bar that even WA state nightclubs are overcoming.

6) Dashboard

a. Why is the link to the WSU COVID dashboard gone? http://news.wsu.edu/2021/01/22/wsu-launches-new-covid-19-dashboard/
b. Is there a new dashboard somewhere else?
c. If not, why was it removed?
d. When will it be reinstated?

7) Testing

a. What mandatory testing are unvaxxed students, staff and faculty required to do? at what intervals?
b. What regular testing is being done to ensure we detect cases at WSU and contain them? (And again, please connect these to a dashboard.)

8) When Outbreaks Occur

a. What exactly do we do if our students test positive? how will we know?
b. If they tell us that, what do we really do? This means most of my students will have been exposed, so the idea one student would “isolate” is an unlikely scenario in many of our programs in which students will be exposed to their fellow classmates in other classes or often across the course of a week. I assume we would need to quarantine and all go to online learning at that point?
c. What do parents do when their unvaxxed kids or vulnerable family members need homeschooling, quarantining and/or isolation? I assume we are engaging in online learning, but I find no FAQs responding to this.
d. Dr. Elizabeth Meade, immediate past president of the WA chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently noted that with delta, When parents of unvaccinated children are making decisions about going out into the community, they “need to behave as if nobody in the household is vaccinated.” Has the administration taken into account that many of us have children under the age of 12 and are thus vectors for infection back and forth? What are our accommodations for this point?
e. Our vaccinations are only 55% effective against asymptomatic transmission. I assume this is known by administration. How is that being accounted for in the calculations for all these regulations and how outbreaks are handled? (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/18/health/covid-cdc-boosters-elderly.html)

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Questioning the statistical integrity of the vax rates reported

The responses we are receiving assume we have poor understanding of basic descriptive statistics. I challenge the recent assertion that >90% of students are vaccinated. You have to report the response rate for that to have any actual context.

  •  Can we please add a dashboard on the vax status data, by campus, by status (faculty, staff, student)? This would be pretty incentivizing and fun to watch [from a distance] increase over the course of the semester.
  • In the meantime, what percentage of the WSU community (reported separately by classification — faculty, staff, students– and by campus):
    • Have reported their vaccination status?
    • Have a fully documented full vaccination status, have a documented medical exemption, have a documented religious exemption, have a “personal/philosophical” exemption? Also, be sure to provide those data with the % non-reporter provided, so it’s not misleading statistically, so:
  • xx% missing data
  • xx% fully vaccinated
  • xx% documented medical exemption
  • xx% religious exemption
  • xx% philosophical/personal exemption
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Please sign this petition for a safer teaching and learning environment at WSU

The COVID-19 delta variant poses an increasing challenge to WSU students, staff, and faculty. It is also putting our families at risk–our unvaccinated children and immune-compromised family members. It is endangering the larger surrounding community, where the vaccination rate is only 44%. This petition demands for more shared leadership and transparency informing COVID-19 policy, alternative accommodations for more vulnerable constituents, including access to remote learning/teaching, and regular testing and monitoring to detect and contain outbreaks in a timely way.

I have a list of questions for the administration about the COVID-19 policies and procedures, which some other constituents have noted below. I am very concerned about the apparent lack of clarity around many of the policies or the lack of communication thereof.

Please sign the petition for the safety and the health of our community by clicking the link here.

Susan E. Collins, PhD, WSU Department of Psychology

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Pullman-centric COVID-19 update

Dear Colleagues – Here are some mostly Pullman-centric factoids about COVID-19 as of 24 Aug 2021.

The Whitman County case count (293/100,000) is lower than the state level (437.5/100,000).

The vaccination rate in Pullman is much higher (59%) than other areas (36-39%).

Local hospital representatives report an increase in case load, but we are doing “ok” overall.

Approximately 11,300 students have reported their vaccination status (>90% vaccinated) with about 500 reporting personal exemptions (these will have to be adjusted given the recent vaccination mandate). Students have until 10 September to declare their status and WSU is receiving about 200 declarations per day at present. The rolling 5-day testing average has increased to 23.6 tests/day. I don’t have a positivity rate.

K-12 schools start classes today and a mask mandate is in place.

More local information can be found at: https://www.whitmancountypublichealth.org (presumably, the same can be said for other campus county health departments).

We are asking the administration for a public-facing, system-level dashboard with COVID-19 metrics.

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Request for further clarification of COVID FAQs

Could the FAQ-s clarify the types of masks permitted under the governor’s order? It is likely to cause disturbances.
https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/Secretary_of_Health_Order_20-03_Statewide_Face_Coverings.pdf
p.4:
“Types of face coverings permitted.
o For purposes of this order, a face covering must:
+Fit snugly against the sides of the face;
+ Completely cover the nose and mouth;
+ Be secured with ties, ear loops, elastic bands, or other equally effective method; and
+ Include at least one layer of tightly woven fabric without visible holes, although
multiple layers are strongly recommended.
o A face covering may also be a mask or face covering that provides a higher level of
protection than a cloth face covering, such as a medical procedure/surgical mask, a KN95
mask, or an N95 mask. ”

Also, I am concerned that one of the FAQ statements as written actually contradicts the order and needs to be revised more carefully. Specifically, FAQ says
“Can instructors remove their masks to teach?
Vaccinated instructors are permitted to remove their face coverings to teach, provided they maintain 6 feet of distance from their class OR can instruct behind a plexiglass barrier. …”
The governor’s order does not mention 6′ distancing, and does not specifically recognize instruction as a reason to remove one’s mask. In particular, the DOH order specifically indicates that public agencies and officials can impose more strict, but not less strict requirements.
To clarify the statement in question, there are provisions for removing one’s mask under specific circumstance (p.3 of the DOH order). E.g. communication with hearing-impaired students is one of those cases. But not in general.

Alex Dimitrov, Mathematics and Statistics

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The rising covid case rate – even among vaccinated individuals – has many instructors concerned about the university moving forward with face-to-face instruction, especially in large enrollment courses.

WSU policies surrounding fall 2021 instruction were developed under assumptions about the effectiveness of vaccines and lower positive case rates. These were reasonable policies given the information at the time. Unfortunately, that information is now outdated and obsolete. The rising covid case rate – even among vaccinated individuals – has many instructors concerned about the university moving forward with face-to-face courses. Large enrollment courses (> 60 or >100 students) are particularly worrisome. Recent data and local health trends suggest that the administration should reconsider its current instructional policy, and allow online/hybrid instruction to ensure the safety of students, staff, and the community.

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There is no plan for what happens to an instructor if/when they fall ill.

There are many unanswered questions about the logistics of moving forward. To name a few:

1. If a course is billed as FTF, can an instructor flip to SO or hybrid if they get sick? Now such changes are not being considered (apparently)

2. What if they are too sick to teach–who steps in?

3. Does an instructor infected with Covid on campus file a worker compensation claim if they need medical treatment and/or return to work benefits? Our state considers an illness that arises out of and in the course of their employment as eligible for workers compensation?

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