PSC faculty express concerns about in-person classes in 2021

Press release from Pensacola State College Faculty Association-United Faculty of Florida:

In-person classes at Pensacola State College endanger health, safety and well-being of students, faculty, community

Pensacola State College Faculty Association-United Faculty of Florida (PSCFA-UFF) stands up for safe and high-quality instruction for all during the Covid-19 pandemic; union files class action grievance in response to college’s ill-conceived plans for spring

Pensacola State College (PSC) is mandating a significant increase in face-to-face instruction for the spring 2021 semester, with a requirement of at least two face-to-face classes per instructor “without exception.” The PSC Human Resources Department has no paperwork or standardized process to apply for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, nor a process for Covid-related accommodations.

According to Vice President Dr. Erin Spicer, in an email to Pensacola State College Faculty Association-United Faculty of Florida dated Nov. 20, the PSC administration “do[es] not intend to approve any faculty for remote work.” PSCFA-UFF is aware of many individual faculty members who have requested remote work or other appropriate accommodations for a variety of reasons, including medical conditions, but also caregiving and parenting hardships, as well just not wanting to be put in a risky situation with unknown consequences. Simultaneously, the union has filed a class action grievance (included below) on behalf of all faculty, requesting a safe, healthy, and quality learning environment for faculty, staff and students.

PSC Board of Trustees-PSCFA UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement Article 8.03 states:
Faculty members will not be required to work under hazardous or unsafe conditions which might endanger their health, safety, or well-being.

Specific Remedy Sought by Pensacola State College Faculty Association-UFF:
• Courses that can be taught remotely be offered virtually
• Allow all office hours to be completed virtually
• For anyone in sustained close contact:
• Ensure proper fitted personal protective equipment (PPE) that will be replaced accordingly
• Ensure increased air circulation and filtration according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines
• Ensure reduced class sizes and social distancing
• Install plexiglass barriers in all areas where students have contact with instructors

“PSC has dramatically reduced our live online courses for spring 2021, at great harm to students, especially our active-duty military and health care providers who need them most, as well those who have to quarantine or learn at a distance due to personal hardships during this pandemic,” said PSCFA-UFF Contract Enforcement Chair Rita Thrasher. She added that “rather than switching modalities mid-semester, it would be better for our students to have as many courses live online until we can safely bring everyone back on campus.”

PSCFA-UFF President Deborah McClintock emphasizes the urgency of the situation. “We are working hard to ensure a quality and safe learning environment for all of our students and community,” she said. “We call on our PSC president and administration to reconsider their plans and allow for more live online instruction, not only for those of us who risk long-term organ damage, intubation or even death from this illness, but for all of us. It isn’t right to deliberately expose anyone to an increased risk of this life-threatening illness. From our perspective, our college president seems to be putting politicians in D.C. and Tallahassee before our own students and employees.”