July 21, 2024

AAUP Update: Follow-Up to Meeting with SVPs and MC Union Leaders

From: Zarin, Harry
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2022 4:44 PM
To: Rai, Sanjay K <sanjay.rai@montgomerycollege.edu>; Brown, Monica R <monica.brown@montgomerycollege.edu>; Collette, Sherwin A <Sherwin.Collette@montgomerycollege.edu>
Cc: Ulrich, Lori A <Lori.Ulrich@montgomerycollege.edu>; Standing, Christopher G <chris.standing@montgomerycollege.edu>; Baldassano, Victoria A <victoria.baldassano@montgomerycollege.edu>
Subject: Follow-up to Our Meeting

Monica, Sanjay, and Sherwin:

Thank you for taking the time to review our memo of concern and for having a meeting with us yesterday during this very busy time. We appreciate the open discussion and the fact that you gave serious attention to what you described as our “legitimate concerns.”

In the area of telework, we understand, as Sherman stated, that you “encourage flexible work schedules” and will ask supervisors to honor the policy that was originally agreed to for staff and counseling faculty.

Most importantly, we appreciate the fact that you heard our request that all face-to-face classes (except hands-on labs and a small list of other classes) be changed to structured remote for a period of time, possibly two to four weeks, until case numbers, hospitalization, and other factors in Montgomery County indicate that it is safe to proceed with in-person instruction. We understand that the administration is monitoring conditions and COVID infection rates in the area and uses this information to help make informed decisions.

Moving forward, however, we have one concern that we feel was not fully addressed at yesterday’s meeting.  It has been said in a number of meetings that we are a data-driven institution. We use data to make decisions that are in the best interests of the students and the employees. Classes start in two weeks. Only 40% of the students registered for face-to-face classes have submitted their vaccination records and have had those records processed by the vendor. We recognize that another 4,000 students have submitted their records, but those have not been processed yet. What are the magic numbers that need to be reached before the administration announces that we are switching face-to-face classes to structured remote for a temporary period of time because a sufficient number of students haven’t submitted their records or submitted records haven’t been processed?   We expect that there would be some exceptions to the requirement that face-to-face classes switch to remote; lab science and so on.

Unfortunately, all our efforts to encourage students to do their part to help protect themselves and this community may not work, and a decision has to be made sooner rather than later about moving face-to-face classes to structured remote. Requiring everyone to prepare for SRT formatted classes a weekend prior to the start of classes, for example, is unprofessional and disrespectful to the faculty and the student service areas.  Most importantly, students need time to adjust to this temporary switch from face-to-face to structured remote.  Advance/early communication regarding the numbers and the plan to respond to those numbers affects more than just the classroom; a myriad of student services will be impacted and may need to be shifted, even if partially, to remote for a period of time as well.  We have demonstrated that we can turn on a dime and serve students well in the process, but it does not come without anxiety and loss of morale.  The ability to plan should not be undervalued.

MCPS, local colleges. and colleges and universities around the country have already announced a delay in having students come to campus to take classes and they are starting their semester in a remote format. We need to continue to take the necessary steps to protect our employees and we are hopeful that at the opening meeting we will hear something other than what we have already heard.

Thank you,

Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME

Victoria Baldassano, Director SEIU

Chris Standing, Immediate Past President AFSCME Harry Zarin, President AAUP

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