Several months ago, Senate Executive approved a set of planning assumptions and guidelines that would make possible an increase in in-person teaching for Fall 2021, in the hope and expectation that Ontario would have exited Step 3 of the provincial government's re-opening plan and that daily new cases would be lower than they were in Fall 2020. Unfortunately, neither of these expectations have materialized, and we are in the midst of a fourth wave.
At the September 9, 2021 town hall, Is it safe enough to return to campus?, all seven renowned public health and air quality and filtration experts unanimously agreed that the situation is not, in fact, safe at all. Senate Executive has not met since June 2021 and has not yet reviewed its decision in light of present circumstances.
In the face of planning assumptions that do not align with the current conditions of the pandemic, or with the advice of scientists, YUFA members and their units are trying to determine and provide a safe workplace in these challenging circumstances.
YUFA confirms its position that, as per 18.08.3 of the Collective Agreement, the structure, format and mode of delivery of courses are determined by the academic units that deliver them. If you have concerns about the mode of delivery of individual courses, you may wish to discuss these with your unit(s) to determine what (if any) adjustments to the mode of delivery may be warranted, in accordance with 18.08.3.
YUFA members are entitled to a safe workplace, and as supervisors of Teaching Assistants and other workers, they may have obligations to provide one. Moreover, some students have approached their instructors expressing concerns about attending in-person classes for which they are registered. Large commuter campuses present extraordinarily high risk of community spread. Public health experts have told us exactly what to do to minimize our risk; York is not yet following their advice.
YUFA calls on the Employer to be guided by the expertise of scientists, to be supportive and responsive to the health and safety concerns of the York community, and to choose cooperation over disciplinary management in course planning and delivery, so that we can all collectively build a safe space for work and education.