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UFAS Covid Demands
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August 9, 2021

UW System President Tommy Thompson, UW Board of Regents President Edmund Manydeeds III, UW Board of Regents, Chancellor Blank, Provost Scholz, Members of the University Committee, and Members of the Academic Staff Executive Committee:

We are writing out of grave concern about the health risks due to the crowded indoor conditions on campus when we return to full in-person instruction. We demand that the UW System, UW–Madison, and our state government implement evidence-based best practices for public health in higher education. Other peer institutions are implementing vaccine requirements (as at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, Indiana University, University of Colorado Boulder, Michigan State University, and others, including large public universities). Institutions of higher education are also implementing protective measures additional to encouraging COVID-19 vaccines, such as regular COVID-19 testing for people who are not fully vaccinated and masking (as at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Additionally, other campuses are limiting capacity, including holding large lectures remotely (as at University of Colorado Boulder).

We acknowledge that this is not the fall semester any of us were hoping for, but it is crucial to recognize that the Delta variant has radically changed the situation nationally and in Dane County. On June 24, when Chancellor Blank released plans for Fall 2021, the 7-day average of new cases in Dane County was 4.4; on August 5 it was 75.3. A study from UW–Madison found that vaccinated individuals carried as much virus in their nasal passages as unvaccinated individuals. According to data gathered by the New York Times, the ICUs at UW Hospitals and Clinics, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Meriter Hospital are all at or above 90% capacity. Even before the return of students to the fall semester, Dane County has reached the “substantial” level of community transmission: measures that might have been sufficient based on the available data in June are now inadequate.

It is our duty to protect the health and well-being of our students, colleagues, and community members. We are particularly concerned for members of our community who are most vulnerable, including those who are immunocompromised, those with children under 12 and/or other vulnerable family members, and those from communities already hardest hit by the pandemic. A recent report highlights racial and socioeconomic disparities among students reporting they had COVID-19, and Dane County’s vaccination numbers show enormous disparities along racial/ethnic lines.

 

We contend that the extenuating nature of this pandemic warrants requiring vaccines: over 600,000 people have lost their lives in the US alone and many more are experiencing long-lasting symptoms and trauma from COVID-19. In a span of 15 months, the pandemic has led to more U.S. deaths than World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined.

The American College Health Association, of which UW System is a member, recommends vaccine requirements for Fall 2021, a policy pursued by hundreds of campuses across the nation. We urge UW–Madison leadership to follow the lead of UW–Milwaukee and assert our right to set policy to protect students, workers, and the community.

We are further alarmed that the current plans for Fall 2021 disregard ACHA guidelines for campuses without vaccine mandates. These plans include a return to full in-person large lectures, negating the possibility of physical distancing, no requirements for testing other than in the dorms, and full-capacity sporting events. The ACHA guidelines caution:

 

“If a COVID-19 vaccine requirement is not implemented, it will be extremely important for IHEs to remain at heightened alert with their current oversight of population-based strategies to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, masking, control of group sizes, appropriate ventilation, advanced testing strategies, and rapid contact tracing would likely need to be continued” (ACHA guideline, p. 2).

The CDC updated guidelines for Institutes of Higher Education and the US Department of Education similarly emphasize the importance of prevention strategies that reduce spread where there is a mixed population of people who are fully vaccinated and those who are not fully vaccinated. The ACHA whitepaper released in July 2021 states that even institutions recommending vaccines should “continue physical distancing, control of group sizes, appropriate ventilation, advanced testing strategies, and rapid contact tracing” (p. 31). The current measures are not enough and will lead to illness and disruption throughout campus and the greater Madison community.

 

We call on the University of Wisconsin–Madison and UW System to:

 

1) Require all students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

2) Continue to require masking and social distancing.

3) Continue to require frequent testing among unvaccinated staff, students, and faculty and implement randomized testing among all staff, students, and faculty, regardless of vaccination status.

4) Utilize best practices for improved ventilation.

5) Institute a more flexible policy on remote or hybrid teaching modalities for all faculty, instructional academic staff, and graduate instructors.

6) Increase investments in UW–Madison’s mental healthcare resources to address the mental health challenges accompanying a year and a half of death, illness, and disruption.

 

7) Allow for broad flexibility in remote work arrangements for all campus workers.

 

The Delta variant surging right before the start of the Fall 2021 semester has increased the urgency for UW–Madison and the UW System to implement additional safety measures as is being done on campuses around the nation.

UW System, including UW–Madison, students, staff, faculty, administrators, and the wider community, deserves implementation of evidence-based best practices in public health on our campuses in which to learn and work.

 

SIGN ON TO THIS STATEMENT

Signed,

Hannah V. Eldridge, UFAS Treasurer, Associate Professor, Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+

Emily M. Reynolds, UFAS Secretary, Academic Staff

Clare Michaud, UFAS Equity & Diversity Committee Chair, Academic Staff, Data Science Hub

Jason Lee, UFAS Co-President, Academic Staff, School of Social Work

Katherine Charek Briggs, UFAS Co-President, Academic Staff, Student Affairs

Michael Childers, UFAS Grievance Committee Chair, Professor, School for Workers

Anna Paretskaya, UFAS Compensation and Benefits Committee Chair, Lecturer, Department of Sociology

Susan Nossal, Academic Staff, Physics Department

Steve Goldstein, Data Scientist, Data Science Institute and Botany Department

Brett Hoover, Academic Staff, Graduate School

Elizabeth Jach, PhD, Academic Staff, School of Education

Andrew Hoffman, Academic Staff, Division of Information Technology

Carin Loewen, Teaching Faculty 1, Genetics

Alice Ogden-Nussbaum, Academic Staff, College of Letters and Science

Colleen Baldwin, Academic Staff, Department of Medicine

James P. Nelson III, Academic Staff

Catherine Shults, Research Administrator, Mechanical Engineering

Justin J. Boutilier, Faculty, College of Engineering

Julia, Academic Staff, School of Medicine and Public Health

Teresa Uyen Nguyen, Academic Advising Services, College of Letters and Science

Jennifer Morgan, Academic Staff, OVCRGE

Karl Broman, Faculty, Biostatistics & Medical Informatics

Dorothea Salo, Academic Staff, College of Letters and Science

Nicholas Pedriana, Senior Lecturer, Sociology

Nina Varsava, Faculty, Law School

Aimee Glassel, Academic Staff, General Library System

American Association of University Professors, UW-Madison Chapter Executive Committee

Kelly Krein, Academic Staff, Student Affairs

Alexa Ross, Academic Staff, OVCRGE

Mitra Sharafi, Faculty, Law School

Caitlin Clark, Academic Staff, School of Nursing

Monica Macaulay, Faculty, Language Sciences

Preeti Chopra, Faculty, Art History

Jane Peace, Academic Staff, University Health Services

Lydia Zepeda, Professor Emeritus, Consumer Science

Gloria Whiting, Faculty, Department of History

Wisconsin University Union Executive Board

Alyssa Phelps, Academic Staff, Student Affairs

Jen Birstler, Academic Staff, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics

Tabitha Faber, Graduate Student, Botany

Mary Thompson, Academic Staff, Division of Teaching and Learning

Patrick Heck, Academic Staff, CIMSS & Madison Alder, District 2

Stewart Macaulay, Professor Emeritus, Law School

Erika Marin-Spiotta, Faculty, Geography

Dr. Bernier, Academic Staff, Student Affairs

Allison Bender, Academic Staff, OVCRGE

Amani DeHolton, Academic Staff, International Division

Jeffrey Henriques, Distinguished Lecturer, Psychology

Benjamin Farral, Senior Research Specialist, Department of Medicine

Deb, Academic Staff, Office of Strategic Consulting

Jenny Braunginn, Field Faculty, School of Social Work

Allison Powers Useche, Faculty, History

Jim Greco, Distinguished Faculty Associate, Education

Jennifer Drake, Instructional Staff, School of Nursing

Catherine Voge, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Megan McDonald, Academic Staff, Division of Continuing Studies

Katie Pavek, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Marcus Cederstrom, Academic Staff, Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+

David Lovelace, Academic Staff, College of Letters and Science

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke, Faculty, Department of English

Martin Brubaker, Academic Staff, School of Medicine and Public Health

Leah Kechele, Faculty, School of Nursing

Alyssa Pon-Franklin, Academic Staff

Rebecca Brockman-Schneider, Academic Staff, Department of Pediatrics

Kate Vieira, Faculty, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Chris Butler, Academic Staff, UW Athletic Department

Kylie Lafayette, Academic Staff, School of Medicine and Public Health

Andrea Dutton, Faculty, Geoscience

Moira Cattapan RN, MSN, Faculty, School of Nursing

Elizabeth Soechting, Academic Staff, Wisconsin Center for Education Research

Cindy Waldeck, Academic Staff, School of Social Work

Leema Berland, Faculty, Curriculum and Instruction

Brooke Barnhart, Academic Staff, Cross-College Advising Service

Sarah Ripp, Academic Staff, International Division

Chad Alan Goldberg, Faculty, Department of Sociology

Nathaniel Haack, Academic Staff, Graduate School

Dan Fitch, Academic Staff, Center for Healthy Minds

Leah S. Horowitz, Faculty        

Harald Kliems, Academic Staff, School of Medicine and Public Health

Amihan Huesmann, Academic Staff, Physics

Jen Rose Smith, Faculty, Geography & American Indian Studies

Robert Kaiser, Faculty, Geography Department

Elizabeth Cox MD, Faculty, School of Medicine and Public Health

Courtney Berner, Executive Director, UW Center for Cooperatives

Nicole, Senior Research Specialist, Pediatrics

Anthony Gitter, Faculty, Biostatistics & Medical Informatics

Richard Lankau, Faculty, Department of Plant Pathology

Matthew Ginder-Vogel, Faculty, College of Engineering

Cabell Hankinson Gathman, Lecturer, Gender and Women’s Studies

Stephen Dennison, Graduate Research Assistant, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Bret Payseur, Faculty, Genetics

Mindy, Academic Staff, Master of Public Health Program

Tara Milliken, Academic Staff, ​​Office of Undergraduate Advising

Page Metcalf, Academic Staff, College of Engineering

Adrienne Nienow, Academic Staff, College of Engineering

Kris Olds, Faculty, Geography

Ailea Merriam-Pigg, Graduate Student, Department of Communication Arts

Pete Schwieger, Academic Staff, Wisconsin Public Media

Katherine (Trina) McMahon, Faculty, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Bacteriology

Marissa Feller, Student         

Arlene Koziol, Senior Guest Auditor

Lisa Rausch, Academic Staff, SAGE

Nicole Rombach, Academic Staff, College of Letters and Science

Lindsay Heiser Barger, Academic Staff, International Academic Programs

Zach Smith, Academic Staff, Mechanical Engineering

Sharad Chandarana, Academic Staff (Retired), Math Department

Emily Mixon, PhD Student + Teaching Assistant, Department of Geoscience

Michael Cardiff, Professor, Geoscience

B. Howington        Academic Staff        

Jordan Berken, Academic Staff, Student Affairs

Justyn Huckleberry, PhD Candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Joseph A Mason, Professor, Geography, College of Letters and Science

Alison Spencer, Academic Staff, College of Letters & Science

Mary Noles, University Staff, French & Italian

Kassia Shaw, Graduate Student & Teaching Assistant, English Department

Amy Hilgendorf, Academic Staff, School of Human Ecology

Peter Haney, University Staff, Chican@ & Latin@ Studies

Georgette Paxton, Academic Staff, Biochemistry

Kristen Slack, Faculty, Social Work

M Koch, University Staff, School of Medicine and Public Health

Di Francis, University Staff, UW Biotechnology Center

Michelle Rondon, Academic Staff, CALS

Amanda Shubert, Lecturer, Department of English, Department of Communication Arts

Judith Burstyn, Faculty, Chemistry

Ryan Stowe, Faculty, Chemistry

Peter Timbie, Professor, Physics

Walter C. Stern, Faculty, Educational Policy Studies & History

Nalan Erbil, Academic Staff, German, Nordic, and Slavic+

Anna Meyer, Graduate Research Assistant, Computer Sciences

Judith Kingsbury, Outreach Specialist, OVCRGE

Brad Singer, Professor and Department Chair, Geoscience

Shaun Marcott, Faculty, Department of Geoscience

Deborah Chasman, Academic Staff, OBGYN

Alejandra Canales, Graduate Research Assistant, Neuroscience

Louise Meske, Academic Staff, Facilities Planning & Management

Melanie Kohls, Academic Staff, Geography

Chloë Bonamici, Faculty, Geoscience

Steven Wang, Graduate Teaching Assistant, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Erin, Academic Staff        

Andy Quackenbush, Academic Staff, International Academic Programs

Emma Crawford, Manager of Financial Aid and Financial Wellness, School of Medicine and Public Health

Kurt Feigl, Professor, Department of Geoscience

Robert Kaiser, Professor, Geography

Jess Draws, Academic Staff, School of Engineering

Max Mershon, Academic Staff, UW Health-Geriatrics

Megan Kennedy, Teaching Assistant, Department of German, Nordic and Slavic+

James Tautges, Teaching Assistant, Math

Geoffrey Cureton, Academic Staff, CIMSS

Peter McDonald, Faculty, School of Education

John Rudolph, Faculty, School of Curriculum and Instruction

Kaycee Rogers, Academic Staff, School of Education

Noah Weeth Feinstein, Faculty, Curriculum and Instruction, Community & Environmental Sociology

Chris Kirchgasler, Faculty, Curriculum and Instruction

Casey Hanson, CAPSW, Graduate Student/Project Assistant, School of Medicine and Public Health/ La Follette School of Public Affairs

Monica Messina, Academic Staff, School of Medicine and Public Health

Kelsey Lewis, Postdoctoral Fellow, Gender & Women's Studies

Andrew Jason Turner, Academic Staff, DoIT Academic Technology

Ruth Goldstein, Faculty, Gender & Women’s Studies

Dou-Yan Yang, Academic Staff, Surgery

Katie Kirchgasler, Faculty, Curriculum and Instruction

Matt Villeneuve, Assistant Professor, History

Barret Elward, Academic Staff, College Of Engineering

JoAnne E. Lehman, Academic staff, General Library System