I just wanted to reach out to everyone a week before classes start. Our union is here for you if you have any questions or concerns. We do not control campus COVID policies; we can only lobby and appeal to UCF on your behalf. We know the fall return is filling many of us with anxiety as we watch the CDC recommend universal indoor masking for K-12 schools but silent on higher education spaces. Some school systems and colleges in Florida switched to indoor mask policies in defiance of our government leaders while the State University System remains on the path our political leaders have laid out for us over the last year.
I share these updates to keep you all informed.
Florida Surpasses New York’s COVID-19 2020 Peak
We are hearing in the news that Florida has passed its highest rate of hospitalization, not for a day, week or month but instead since the pandemic started. Hospitals are under stress and are only performing necessary medical procedures. Florida officials have asked for assistance in the form of respirators to help our hospitals deal with the rise in cases. Our state political leaders have said this is a “seasonal fluctuation” and hospital concerns are only “media hysteria.” We do not agree and we want you to be prepared. We in the union are doing the best we can to assist you through this pandemic. The NEA has created a page that informs you of your legal rights during our return to campus. You can access it here.
UCF COVID Decision Triggers
We want to alert you to the fact that the “UCF COVID Decision Triggers” page is returned and revised. This page originally appeared in the spring of 2020 and remained online throughout the pandemic. In July we asked UCF since the page was still online if those trigger benchmarks would remain in effect and thus UCF COVID policy could change as a result. We were told “No” and the page was swiftly taken down. We advocated for its return. It was returned Friday August 13 and revised. Of course UCF is not alerting the university community to this, so we will.
Please note that UCF has not disclosed what the baseline is for these triggers. One trigger, describes “Sustained increases above 10% threshold in percent positive testing.” What is the number by which 10% would be measured to reach this benchmark? The number of cases at the beginning of the fall semester? Unfortunately this is not disclosed on the page. I am sure in UCF’s rush to put this page out the Emerging Issues and Crisis Response Team (EICRT) did not include this necessary information. We will ask them and get a response for you so we can update everyone. We will also inquire whether many of the “Community Triggers” have already been met? “Insufficient ICU beds and respirators in the region” just to name one.
The Tiggers page is a step in the right direction and we applaud UCF moving to address our concerns.
On Social Media
This is a reminder to find us on social media. We have a Twitter account and a Facebook page that is public. If you are a member you can join us in our private Facebook group where we have continued discussions about the pressing issues facing the Bargaining Unit as well as share advice and resources. If you are ineligible to join our Facebook group there is a simple remedy.
Robert Cassanello, UFF-UCF