CANCEL FACE-TO-FACE TEACHING, MEETINGS AND NON-ESSENTIAL SERVICES AT UWE
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PETITION TO CANCEL FACE-TO-FACE TEACHING, MEETINGS AND NON-ESSENTIAL SERVICES AT UWE IN THE INTERESTS OF THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF STAFF, STUDENTS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC
University of the West of England have announced on Friday 13 March, 2020 that it is “currently still open for business and running as normal”, including face-to-face teaching. To justify this decision, despite the public health emergency and the high death rate amongst those who contract the C-19 virus, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Steve West, stated UWE had updated their Coronavirus guidance webpage reflecting NHS and Public Health England advice. The World Health Organization has cast doubt on the UK’s approach to developing “herd immunity”, and it is at odds with the approach taken by most other nations in Europe.
On top of this, it is extremely ableist and a lot of pressure to expect disabled students and students who are social distancing/self-isolating to protect those that are immunocompromised to take the extra steps to organise their own extensions and support when a university-wide cancellation of face-to-face teaching and non-essential services/meetings would be not only be less stress but safer for the community at UWE.
On top of this, in an article on The Guardian published on the 11th of March, there’s a quote from Prof Steve West stating the concern for care-leavers, estranged students and international students. To clarify this is to simply bring a stop to face-to-face teaching and non-essential meetings/services. Accommodation is essential and should remain in place.
UWE has a total population of circa 33,000 students and staff, moving to and from various city-centre campus’ as well as Frenchay being the main campus, Glenside being the campus for Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences and Gloucester Campus.
UNESCO reports that ‘as of 13 March, 61 countries have announced or implemented university closures.’ European countries, including but not limited to Italy, France, Ireland, Belgium, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Estonia, Czech Republic, Norway, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Albania, Denmark and Iceland have announced the closure of all universities. Unlike the UK, none of these countries has privatised their university system.
University of Bristol, one of the main teaching institutions in Bristol alongside UWE, has taken measures to bring forward the end of teaching for this current term to the 18th of March as opposed to the 27th of March to safeguard their community.
We note the increased risk of spread of coronavirus in areas of high population density where people meet face-to-face in enclosed spaces, and where the number of individuals encountered is high.
We note therefore the disproportionate and unacceptable risk to teaching, professional services and estates colleagues who are in close contact daily with high numbers of students in lecture theatres, offices and halls. We also note that the decision to maintain face-to-face teaching provision priorities university income over the health of staff, students and their loved ones, including those in high-risk categories. We note that staff are particularly vulnerable in these circumstances.
We call on University of the West of England Council to meet its responsibilities to the health and safety of staff and students, and its wider civic duty to the people of Bristol and the South West during this public health emergency, and instruct the vice-chancellor
to cancel face-to-face teaching, meetings and non-essential services at UWE immediately.
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