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500 ASU employees sign letter asking Crow to reconsider in-person plans

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)

PHOENIX — More than 500 employees of Arizona State University signed an open letter to Michael Crow asking the university president to reconsider the in-person education plans entering the 2020 school year.

In late July, Crow confirmed that classes will begin on Aug. 20 with a combination of options including in-person and remote through the ASU-Sync program.

He told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad last week that residence halls will be arranged accordingly when a positive case has been identified.

“If we can’t socially isolate the person in the residence hall, then the person will be socially isolated in another facility we’ll have available,” Crow said.

With those plans on the table, the letter written by the ASU Community Of Care Coalition listed concerns in the re-opening plan.

Concerns from people who signed the letter include the claim that not all online forms of teaching have been made available to all faculty. It also questioned how ASU plans to mitigate the risks not just on campus, but in surrounding communities that may be impacted by an outbreak.

Additionally, the letter indicated that staff and faculty were not part of the decision-making process and that communication has been lacking.

“Faculty, staff and students face the most direct health risks for the decisions made by a committee on which they are not adequately represented,” the letter read.

ASU said in a statement Sunday night, “President Crow and Provost Searle will continue this week to address the concerns articulated in the letter through a variety of communications and discussions with the entire ASU community of 100,000 employees and students.

“There are many very legitimate ideas, questions, requests and concerns that have been expressed by this very committed community of people. ASU will continue to provide a university-wide framework for managing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, which to the maximum extent possible empowers individual members of the ASU community to live, work, teach, research, and serve the people of Arizona in whatever ways best address the needs of each individual member of the ASU community.”

The employee letter asked the university to postpone in-person classes and to first establish metrics based on “rigorous testing” to create a standard and to grant accommodations for all who request them.

“To be clear, as faculty, staff and students, we want to return to campus and we believe in our educational mission. But the timing of that return must be determined by scientific benchmarks and the input of the workers and students who will be shouldering the risk,” the letter read.

The letter was signed on a Google Docs form that asked for name, job title and position and email address.

Crow’s said in his July 27 statement that he is confident ASU is prepared for the combination of online and in-person classes.

“I am confident in the systems and protocols we have put in place at ASU to allow students to continue their academic studies and for employees to support our mission, while managing the complexities that COVID-19 can present,” he wrote.

“This includes teaching in a variety of formats, welcoming students to campus and supporting the on-campus experience, continuing our research mission and operating the university overall in a manner that allows us to fulfill our charter and back our community under current health conditions.

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