Require accessible, hybrid options for BiCo classes in Spring 2022 and beyond

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Require accessible, hybrid options for BiCo classes in Spring 2022 and beyond

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Charlie Crawford started this petition to Haverford College and

The proposed in-person instructional methods for Spring 2022 are inaccessible for disabled, immunocompromised, and isolating students - we need widespread hybrid options for courses at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges.

An open letter from Disability Advocacy for Students at Haverford (DASH), written by Renata Muñoz:

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On Jan 7th, Presidents Wendy Raymond and Kim Cassidy of Haverford and Bryn Mawr College, respectively, announced the BiCo’s plans for the spring 2022 semester. The COVID policies outlined four core assumptions: the inability to prevent COVID on campus and anticipation of a rise in COVID cases during the first few weeks of the semester; maintaining a vaccination and booster requirement to decrease the likelihood of severe COVID cases on campus; the importance of well-fitting, appropriate masks to limit the spread of COVID, especially in light of the Omicron variant; and the combination of the aforementioned policies to create low risk of transmission on campus. The presidents additionally announced that in-person instruction will continue as originally planned, with faculty having the option to offer their class virtually during the first week of the semester. 

Especially in light of the Omicron variant, it is imperative to have accessible options, not only for immunocompromised students, but for all students so that we create an environment in which we feel comfortable and more willing to self-isolate when experiencing symptoms and are also able to stay engaged with their courses. Our colleges value community trust, respect, and concern, and creating accessible options for all as a fundamental necessity for a community. However, we, the Disability Advocacy for Students at Haverford (DASH) group, have found the proposed COVID policies incredibly disappointing. Although we acknowledge that COVID vaccines and boosters can help reduce the transmission and severity of COVID, immunocompromised community members are still at risk of severe illness from COVID. A study from the CDC found that all their vaccinated participants with severe COVID (which includes ICU admission and death) had at least one at risk factor. This study was conducted before the discovery of the Omicron variant, of which we do not have enough data to know how badly the variant impacts immunocompromised people. Immunocompromised students and other students at high risk of severe illness from COVID are, and have been, woefully underrepresented in the BiCo colleges’ COVID policies. The BiCo colleges have failed to even acknowledge high risk students, staff, or faculty, let alone provide any policies or support systems for us. The BiCo’s COVID policies are concerning given the limited knowledge we have on the Omicron variant, particularly in regards to immunocompromised people, and the fact that the colleges anticipate “higher numbers of COVID cases among students, staff, and faculty throughout this semester than earlier in the pandemic.” With this in mind, the decision to have online courses only be available based on the discretion of the professor leaves course accessibility essentially up to luck and tells immunocompromised students to sacrifice their health for their courses. 

The Bi-Co’s COVID policies are inaccessible and discriminatory towards immunocompromised students. 

We acknowledge that online learning is not optimal for all students and can be very detrimental to some disabled students. However, ignoring the existence and needs of immunocompromised students during the middle of a global pandemic, in which we are very vulnerable, is discriminatory. No student should have to choose between sacrificing their health or their education. In order to accommodate the needs of all disabled students, we propose that the Bi-Co offer a hybrid model of courses both in-person AND online, with students given the ability to attend courses in the most safe, effective, and accessible way for them, at least until COVID measures significantly improve.* We understand that it can be difficult to adapt courses onto an online platform, however as we enter the third year of this pandemic, in which the colleges have already previously offered virtual courses, it is necessary to make courses accessible for all students. This proposal not only aids disabled students, but the entire BiCo community. We simply do not know enough about the long term effects of COVID, and according to research by the Penn State College of Medicine, more than half of people who have had COVID will experience long-COVID symptoms. Now more than ever, creating accessible options for our students is imperative. As colleges that value community respect and concern, it is our duty to protect our vulnerable populations. At the moment, we feel that the BiCo’s COVID policies do not reflect these values.

We ask for your support in signing this petition and writing to the presidents of the colleges, Wendy Raymond and Kim Cassidy.

Thank you for your support,

DASH 

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To further support this initiative, send an email to Bryn Mawr and Haverford administration using the following email template: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ceq7mSIrFMYNpSvuhGde7SOb3zzC7hQJcsiAQNe44I4/edit?usp=sharing

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!