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‘Our members want to teach — they just don’t want to become sick,’ union president says


July 15, 2020
For more information, contact:
Kathryn Morton, or 717-236-7486

About three-quarters of surveyed union faculty members at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities do not believe they can safely teach face-to-face in the fall semester, according to a survey conducted last week by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.

Nearly 3,200 respondents shared their views and concerns about fall 2020 reopening plans. APSCUF sent electronic surveys to about 4,800 faculty members, yielding a 66% response rate.

“I was not surprised by the number of responses that we received, but the results are sobering,” APSCUF President Dr. Jamie Martin said.

Initial analysis shows:

  • About 40% of faculty who responded reported having a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of severe illness as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those faculty, more than half also live with or care for someone who is at risk.
  • More than 60% of APSCUF faculty surveyed are very concerned about contracting COVID-19 or potentially exposing their family to it.
  • More than 90% of the faculty surveyed believed that students will not appropriately social distance in their residence halls or when in other social settings; more than 70% of the faculty surveyed do not feel safe teaching or interacting with students face-to-face in the fall; and only 12% of faculty surveyed want to return to in-person teaching.
  • Nearly 90% of faculty surveyed are experiencing much more or more stress/anxiety about returning to campus, compared with the same time last year.

“We know there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for the fall semester, but our goal with this survey was to assess the level of concern of our members regarding the upcoming term — and faculty clearly do not feel safe teaching face-to-face classes,” Martin said. “It also demonstrates the belief that not all university reopening plans put student, staff, and faculty health at the forefront. Faculty should have the option to work remotely if they are concerned about the health of their loved ones and themselves. Our members want to teach — they just don’t want to become sick.”

APSCUF is still processing the results of the survey, which ran July 8–11. The organization plans to release an expanded report in the coming weeks. APSCUF based its questions on Purdue University Senate’s reopening survey.

APSCUF represents more than 5,000 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.