Sep 10, 2021 - News
U of A faculty push administration for remote work
The Silas Hunt Memorial Sculpture near the Old Main building on campus of the University of Arkansas. Photo: Lance King/Replay Photos via Getty Images

The University of Arkansas faculty senate approved a resolution Wednesday that asks the school to provide faculty and staff the option to work remotely.

Context: The university requires all classes that aren't taught online to be taught in person. While teachers can choose to allow students to attend remotely on a case-by-case basis, teachers themselves do not have the option to pivot based on COVID-19 concerns.

  • The student newspaper, The Arkansas Traveler, reported earlier this week that an assistant professor with a disability chose to withdraw from teaching rather than teach in person after the university denied her request to teach remotely.

Yes, but: The faculty senate does not have the authority to change the rules.

  • The university reviews and considers all resolutions from faculty, staff and student governing bodies, university spokesperson Mark Rushing tells Axios.

The resolution points out the pandemic has changed (see: the Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy) since the university decided in the spring what the policy for the fall would be.

  • It also cites that the university does not know the vaccination rate of the entire student body, only the ones who claim Arkansas residency.

The other side: Rushing says that in-person instruction is vital "to facilitate the most pedagogically beneficial interactions between student and instructor and among students."

  • He also notes some students fare better with in-person learning, vaccines have been available for months, and data suggests most of the campus community has had at least one dose.
  • The staff senate voted against the same resolution, Rushing says. (Faculty includes professors and instructors. Staff includes others who work for the university.)

Of note: Masks are required during class. The university is offering COVID-19 vaccinations on campus and vaccine incentives but cannot require faculty, staff, or students to get vaccinated because of state law.

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