Bard at Brooklyn Public Library: Approve Remote Learning for Spring 2022 Semester

Bard at Brooklyn Public Library: Approve Remote Learning for Spring 2022 Semester

112 have signed. Let’s get to 200!

Why this petition matters

Dear Dean Megan Callaghan, Christopher Rey Pérez, Program Director of Bard at Brooklyn Public Library, and the Bard College Covid-19 Task Force,

We, the students of Bard at Brooklyn Public Library, were happy to be able to resume traditional in-person classes and appreciate the many advantages of this format. Yet the current surge of Covid cases, especially with the highly infectious Omicron variant in New York City, has raised anew deep concern about the health and safety for all of us if we continue in this mode next semester. For this reason, we respectfully but strongly request that the classes held at the Brooklyn Public Library revert to the online, remote format. 

We do not make this request lightly. But given the severity of the latest surge–an average of over 36,000 cases are being reported daily in New York City, with more than 5,000 hospitalizations (both highs)–as well as Omicron's ability to override the vaccine’s protection, we are convinced that at this point the risks associated with in-person learning outweigh the benefits. Many universities, including elite institutions such as Stanford, have already made the decision to begin their spring semesters online.

While being vaccinated clearly reduces the risk of serious illness in healthy individuals, many of us have or live with people who have underlying health conditions that make us far more susceptible to complications and severe cases. However, even if nobody within our extended community were to become seriously ill, there is a strong and likely possibility that Omicron's contagiousness is such that our education will be disrupted when we are forced to stay home sick for extended periods. Furthermore, many of us also live in conditions of economic precarity, making us more vulnerable to dire consequences from even a "mild" case of Covid. And this is all before taking into account how the daily stress of Covid anxiety inhibits our ability to learn effectively.

Finally, if rates drop enough to permit returning to in-person learning, additional mitigations and precautions need to be put in place. 

These include:

-Providing high-quality N95 or KN95 masks to students, faculty and other personnel.

-Providing and requiring regular testing of all who are part of the Microcollege. (Many other schools, including Bard's main campus already have such programs in place.)

-Providing instructional and study spaces large enough for students to socially distance, and to enforce this practice (The Elise Smith Room does not meet this standard.)

As much as we value the vitality of in-person teaching and learning, as we know you agree, it should not be at the expense of the health and safety of our community.


Students of Bard at Brooklyn Public Library

112 have signed. Let’s get to 200!