Despite initial excitement, University of Michigan (UM) professors have raised concerns over vaccination plans and communication as the school announced its intention to offer in-person classes this fall.
Professors have expressed their wish to teach students directly. Silke-Maria Weineck, a UM professor of German studies and comparative literature, told MLive that it will be “like falling in love all over again.”
However, educators are concerned with the presumption that “all faculty, graduate student instructors, and staff” will be vaccinated before the start of the semester. UM faculty members are looking to the administration to provide contingencies in case things don’t go according to plan.
“What if there’s no broad access to vaccinations?” Weineck asked. “What if a significant percentage of our students refuse to get vaccinated? Will we scramble madly again, or is there a contingency plan?”
Communication between faculty and administrators has been a bone of contention at UM since the beginning of the pandemic. Tensions rose to the point that the Graduate Employees’ Organization even went on strike last September seeking increased transparency.
But things are gradually changing according to Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs Chairwoman Colleen Conway.
Before the fall semester announcement, UM President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan Collins were present at faculty senate meetings and actively listened to concerns that professors had, including that of the community receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
Conway reported that the university is working on a statement and hopes that it will include a recommendation to deans and directors, who have a hand in decision-making, to bar professors from teaching in-person if they haven’t been vaccinated.