Employees union at ASU, UArizona calls for stronger COVID-19 measures on campuses
PHOENIX – Unionized workers at two of Arizona’s three public universities are pushing the schools for more protective measures against COVID-19, including a vaccine mandate and a temporary return to remote learning.
United Campus Workers of Arizona wrote leaders at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona on Wednesday, citing “explosive growth” of the omicron variant of the virus.
“If university leaders refuse to implement improved mitigation measures now, unchecked spread of COVID-19 will soon make normal university operations impossible as large numbers of students, staff, and faculty fall sick,” the letter read.
Union members requested remote learning be put in place until Jan. 28; a campus-wide mask mandate for indoor spaces and free distribution of quality respirator masks; and require vaccination for students (with exceptions).
The letter said, “cloth and surgical masks are not effective enough barriers to omicron transmission.” Tucson-based Local 7065 of the union also wants twice-weekly COVID testing for all students, staff and faculty on campuses.
“We cannot enter 2022 with 2021 policies in place and expect them to hold omicron at bay on our campuses or in our communities.”
The organization represents staff, faculty, graduate and undergraduate workers at colleges and universities, according to its website.
This morning we sent an open letter to @asu & @uarizona leadership with 4 demands to meet the threat of #Omicron: remote courses/work for Jan, free high-quality masks for all required in all indoor spaces, expanded testing, & a vax mandate for students. https://t.co/12NPBwXv3c pic.twitter.com/A3eTAD5W5x
— United Campus Workers Arizona (@UCWArizona) January 5, 2022
Spring semester at ASU is scheduled to begin Monday; UArizona students begin their spring classes Wednesday.
Both schools returned to full in-person learning last fall.
The highly contagious omicron variant has fueled a new wave of infections. Arizona Department of Health Services officials reported Wednesday more than 7,000 cases for the sixth time in the past seven days.
The addition of 7,749 cases and 61 deaths put the state’s documented pandemic totals at 1,419,562 infections and 24,570 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 dashboard.