AP & Non-Instructional Faculty COVID Accommodations

January 18, 2022 / PSU-AAUP

Letter sent 1/12/2022 to all Members

To our members,

AAUP appreciates the University’s recognition of the current COVID-19 and Omicron surge challenges. However, President Percy’s January 7th email — which focused solely on instructional faculty and accommodations related to COVID-19 and the Omicron surge — failed to address the needs of Academic Professionals (APs) and Non-Instructional Faculty (NIF). Given the in-person nature of their on-campus work, APs and NIF are affected equally by the recent surge in COVID-19 and Omicron cases. Most importantly, the University has yet to make any formal announcement related to outside-of-the-classroom operations since the January 7th email. 

While we appreciate the University’s recognition of the current challenges, AAUP is in communication with Admin about the needs of APs and NIF: AAUP is asking the University to create clear guidelines for non-instructional workers. We are hearing concerns from our members (especially the advisors) that some supervisors may not honor remote work requests. Such requests come from members with young children whose daycares have closed due to COVID-19. Similarly, some K-12 schools have closed or are moving to remote learning. For example, as of January 9th, Portland Public Schools announced that the Parkrose district was closing all of its schools, including closures in Cleveland, McDaniel, and Roosevelt high schools, and Ockley Green Middle School (Oregon Public Broadcasting, 9 Jan 2022). Once again, our members with children are shifting to homeschooling and remote learning with little to no warning. Lastly, many faculty and staff have unvaccinated children under the age of five and require different Centers-for-Disease-Control-recommended isolation levels than vaccinated youth and adults.

AAUP asks that non-instructional faculty and staff be given the flexibility to work remotely during this time. We are not seeking an entire remote campus. However, for non-instructional members who have the need, for example, the University should create an opportunity to honor work-related remote requests. Requesting remote work guidelines during the latest COVID-19 surge is not just about our campus. It is about the public health of our entire community. PSU must provide the flexibility to shift to remote given the testing kit shortages, the long wait times for scheduling COVID-19 tests, and recent CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines for individuals to test on day five after exposure—and to quarantine for five additional days.

Additionally, members request that the COVID-19 case and testing dashboard be updated at least twice per week. For our members, witnessing the positive cases at PSU spike from three (3) positive cases to 326 in the span of a week is cause for alarm, especially for faculty and staff who have young children who cannot yet be vaccinated (under five years of age) (COVID-19 Dashboard, January 10, 2021). Having the dashboard updated more frequently will allow our members to make informed decisions related to their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of those they work with and work for. 

AAUP stands by our APs and NIF as we work together with Admin to create an equitable remote/in-person work environment that benefits our students, faculty, and staff during this ongoing pandemic.

In Solidarity,

     Portland State University Covid Dashboard, January 10, 2021

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