Working during the Pandemic

The AAUP appreciates that Middlebury College is working hard to ensure safety for students, staff, and faculty. Because no environment can be 100% safe, we hope the college will do the following things to reduce risk.

First, we ask that there be a clear person or office in charge of the response to the Pandemic.
This person would serve as the point person for all institutional responses to the Pandemic giving employees a clear line of communication and responsibility in a highly dynamic situation. Without an appointed “Corona Czar,” it is difficult for employees to know where to turn for the most accurate information and most up to date policies.

The College’s Essential Workers
We are very concerned about the working conditions of those staff members for whom teleworking will NOT be an option should the administration decide to reopen the campus for the fall semester of 2020. This applies primarily to Middlebury College’s essential workers, some of whom have been working continually since the College closed in March, and includes employees for facilities, food services and the mail center, public safety officers, health care workers at Parton Health Center, etc.

Accordingly, we ask that no one be asked or pressured to return to Middlebury’s campus without clear evidence that the appropriate measures listed below* have been taken to mitigate the risk of contracting covid-19.

Staff who can work online should be encouraged to continue working remotely.

Furthermore, we ask that Human Resources send a written reassurance to all workers that there will be no retaliation if they do not come back to work until the safety conditions outlined below are met. No one should be encouraged to return to a building or classroom on campus before all safety requirements have been met.

We ask that Human Resources rescind the current health pledge and re-issue [an amended pledge after the recommended measures mitigating transmission of Covid-19 have been met.

Further, please make sure the requirements of a health pledge do not create financial disincentives. Workers who stay home because they exhibit symptoms of illness must receive compensation as must workers who are quarantining. Further, any and all costs of vaccinations plus any ongoing illness-related costs caused by exposure to Covid-19 must be completely covered by the college.

We believe Middlebury should give hazard pay to anyone who must incur a high level of risk to perform their job (e.g. healthcare workers, dining hall workers, maintenance, custodial services).

Faculty—including non-tenured and faculty on term contracts—should be given the choice to teach all courses online. If a faculty member chooses to teach classes in person on campus, they should only do so once all mitigation measures have been put in place.

We request that the Dean of Faculty and the Provost publicly and clearly state in writing to all faculty that there will be no negative consequences should they choose to teach online.

We also ask that the following questions be answered in writing before any further polling or sense of faculty motion on teaching online or in person and well before any faculty must decide between teaching online or not.

a. Will the College commit to following all state and federal safety regulations and recommendations?
b. Will the college describe, as precisely as possible, the procedures that they will require returning students to follow in September to minimize the risk of their bringing COVID-19 to campus from elsewhere?
c. Will the College commit to hiring contract tracers? If so, how many?
d. Will any faculty member be required to teach in-person?
e. Will any faculty member face any kind of repercussions for deciding to teach remotely?
f. Will any faculty member be required to add a “remote” option to an in-person class to accommodate students enrolling remotely?
g. If there are in-person classes, what percentage of students will feasibly be allowed on campus, given housing and social distancing rules?
h. If there are in-person classes, how many students do we anticipate being allowed in a classroom? What is the current expectation for what will count as maximum occupancy in a classroom (e.g. 25%)?
i. How does the College plan on scheduling in-person classes given the need to (a) respect occupancy limits; (b) clean and disinfect between classes; and (c) have each student go through screening measures such as temperature checks before entering the building?
j. Who will be responsible for cleaning between classes and safety screenings?
k. What are the plans for equipping classrooms and labs with safety equipment (e.g. plexiglass barriers), faculty & staff with PPE, and other measures to ensure health and safety in teaching spaces?’
l. How will the College ensure that any adjustments to in-person teaching protocols will not interfere with accessibility measures to comply with the ADA and our principles of universal access (e.g. hearing-impaired assistance in distanced classroom with masked speakers)?

Please use the attached document and its guidelines to let faculty and staff know what concrete measures the College would take to meet each condition.