Survey Reveals Instructional Concerns from Fall 2020 Reopening

COVID-19 forced university closures nationwide in spring of 2020, but many institutions, including Georgia Southern, pushed to return students to campus and the classroom during the Fall 2020 semester. While course deliveries varied wildly from fully remote, to hybrid, to hyflex, to fully in-person instruction, one thing was consistent: faculty had little choice in the matter.

According to a survey distributed by UCWGA-Georgia Southern, 96% of faculty reported they were not consulted by university administrators about how best to serve student learning under social distancing requirements and only 8% felt they received adequate support from the university for teaching during the pandemic. 72% would have liked to adjust their mode of instruction in Fall 2020 to better serve student learning under social distancing requirements, but were prohibited from doing so by the administration. 

The administration's actions during the fall semester directly contradicted its promises to prioritize campus safety. Despite CDC guidelines, it took a summer petition just to persuade USG to agree to a campus-wide mask mandate for the term. The CDC’s guidelines for holiday celebrations recommend that everyone should “plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.” Despite this, Georgia Southern scheduled in-person graduation ceremonies inside of this two-week window, putting our campus communities and their loved ones at risk for enhanced holiday spread. 

At the time of posting, Georgia is in the midst of its worst COVID-19 surge to date. And yet, despite 68% of faculty reporting that they felt unsafe teaching on campus in Fall 2020, Georgia Southern is moving forward with a plan for Spring 2021 that includes maximizing face to face instruction without increased testing capacity or transparency. GS has yet to publish the number of tests conducted in Fall 2020 and COVID19 testing in spring will remain available solely for students on a voluntary basis. 

A safer spring semester should include faculty voice and choice in mode of instruction, regular testing for students, faculty, and staff, and a true commitment to abiding by the guidelines set forth by the CDC.

 Pie charts display breakdowns of survey respondents answers to questions regarding instructional methods and campus climate

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