It is time for UCF to get serious about campus COVID policies. I spoke to the Board of Trustees this morning during the public comments portion of the meeting. In the spring of 2020 when COVID cases were a fraction of what they are right now, UCF moved us to remote learning. Interim Provost Michael Johnson has told us throughout that time and since that “masks were effective” in preventing us from getting COVID on campus. Yesterday Governor Ron Desantis said publicly that masks are “not proven to be effective.” We have been following the lead of our state government concerning COVID policy even when our state political leaders contradict the CDC and their guidance. Instead of the CDC, we take our guidance from the Board of Governors. Some brave executives and school boards around the state are openly defying state mask mandate policies in the face of threats to budgets and removal from office. The union demands that UCF create some meaningful contingency plans for when it becomes necessary for UCF to change campus COVID policies to comply with the science of the pandemic.
On Monday I emailed everyone in the Bargaining Unit that UCF returned and revised the COVID Decision Triggers webpage on Friday August 13, 2021. Although we in UFF-UCF applaud the initiative UCF made to return the Triggers page, we have since learned that those triggers were again revised (without a new revision date, the old revision date remains). What was removed were some of the more definitive benchmark triggers for both the campus and community. You can see the original Trigger page here from August 13 and compare it to the revised one here we have documented in case it gets revised again. I personally am troubled by this because this all lacks transparency. Why were the triggers revised and revised to be more meaningless? On Monday I questioned why the original triggers from August 13th had a 10% increase measure in cases but no baseline figure to measure against the increase. In response, the solution was to take any quantitative triggers out of the policy so to have no definitive benchmarks. Instead we have vague statements with no way of knowing when we do or do not reach a benchmark.
With our governor moving further away from the science of the pandemic we need meaningful triggers. Instead we have a trigger policy that remains as an excuse to maintain the status quo. We need quantifiable benchmarks. We also need transparency in how these policies and decisions are made. I am not instilled with confidence in how the Trigger page was launched, communicated and revised. UCF can do better and UCF should do better. The health and safety of our university community is in our leaders’ hands, we expect clarity not confusion.
We have seen UCF respond when you directly communicate with the President and Provost. Please let them know your feelings about the triggers, tell them “clarity not confusion.” Contact the President or the Provost [email@example.com] if you wish to share your concerns, we know they are listening to us.