Remote learning at the University of Utah during high COVID-19 transmission

Remote learning at the University of Utah during high COVID-19 transmission

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Petition to
University Of Utah President's Office and

Why this petition matters

Started by Sam Adams

We believe that the University of Utah is unable to respond responsibly to current COVID-19 infection rates. As students of this university, we petition administration and instructors to accommodate remote participation in any educational activities involving more than a few people until in-person activity can be conducted responsibly.

We believe in-person activities can be conducted responsibly under a few conditions, namely, when case rates are low, when more is known about the long-term effects of the illness, or if appropriate exposure reduction methods are implemented. We therefore reserve the right to opt out of in-person participation in educational activities and stand in solidarity with those who choose to do so. We also request that remote participation in course activities be universally available unless at least one of the following conditions is met:

  • The Salt Lake County COVID-19 Transmission Index is “moderate”,
  • There is clear and convincing evidence that the omicron and any other variant with pervasive community transmission do not result in long-term debilitating effects (“long Covid”), or
  • Universal masking and vaccination are required and enforced for all in-person university activities; at least 6 ft of distancing between people in main campus spaces is maintained and enforced; sanitation supplies are readily available for all classrooms; and all main campus learning spaces include directional airflow and either HEPA filtration or airflow from the outside during and for at least 2 hours before and after being occupied by 10 or more people.

Universal availability of remote participation empowers students to stay home when prudent (such as when a household member becomes sick or starts immunocompromising medication), without obtaining unique individual accommodation from instructors. This option also enables those students who do not mind remote participation to stay home during periods of high transmission, reducing the risk of infection for both in-person and remote participants.

We recognize the legal constraints the university faces and that some students desire to attend many or all of their classes in person. We are not advocating for a campus shutdown or remote-only learning. Rather, we believe that having a universal option for remote participation increases our own ability to continue education, work, social, and other necessary activities in a responsible way that respects individual needs and risk tolerances. We hope that in-person learning will continue to be available for those who want it and wish that circumstances were such that everyone felt fully able to participate in-person at this time.

We urge the university and its instructors to accommodate those of us who choose to participate remotely. We believe that universal access to remote course participation is a viable method of meeting the need for in-person instruction while empowering students to pursue education in a manner that best supports their individual needs and helps protect the community from an ever-changing disease.

If you would like to request remote learning from your instructors, please see this document for a message template. Even if you have no immediate need, please consider requesting remote learning and participating remotely in classes starting Monday—the more people who opt out of in-person learning, the more likely we are to have remote learning be accessible to those who need it.

99 have signed. Let’s get to 100!