CMU faculty raising concerns about a return to class in the Fall

Jun 29, 2020

Central Michigan University faculty are raising concerns about what accommodations they will have heading into the fall semester.

Both the Union of Teaching Faculty at CMU and the Michigan Association of Higher Education have raised concerns about accommodations that will be offered to faculty during the fall semester.

Jason Kennedy is the chief steward of the Union of Teaching Faculty at CMU. He said there has not been a lot of communication from the administration - particularly when it comes to accommodations for faculty worried about getting their family members sick.

“Personally I’m a foster parent. I could potentially lose my foster license by exposing my daughter to COVID. I’m healthy, she’s healthy, There are other things that play into this beyond who is immunocompromised.”

Kennedy said he also has concerns about teaching in-person classes because his wife is diabetic… a condition that puts her at higher risk from COVID-19. Kennedy said CMU is not offering university-wide guidance for families with at-risk members.

“Those are being handled on a case by case basis by chairs and deans. Across all the colleges of the university that is happening completely differently. There isn’t a standard message, at least not one communicated to the union, about how those decisions are being made.”

The patchwork in terms of how cases are being decided is particularly concerning to Kennedy because it could impact how prepared teachers are for courses in the Fall.

“We’ve been told by some colleges that it will take six weeks to make that decision. Six weeks takes us to about a week before classes.”

Other faculty also raised concerns about how the university is working to prepare teachers for the Fall.

Marcia Mackey is the incoming president for the Michigan Association of Higher Education and a faculty member at CMU. She said the high flex-model CMU is adopting for the fall, allowing for some online and some in-person teaching, is a major workload increase for teachers.

“Are we supported? We’re being told we’re going to teach an extra course. Rather than recognize the amount of time and amount of work this is taking our workload is being increased.”

A spokesperson for Central Michigan University did not immediately respond to our request for comment.