Ensure that Webster University Develops Safer COVID-19 Procedures

Ensure that Webster University Develops Safer COVID-19 Procedures

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Peyton Hooks started this petition to Webster University and

On July 31, 2020, Webster University released an email containing a plan of action for handling the COVID-19 pandemic on-campus. However, the plan of action released is vague, insufficient, and wishful thinking at best. The following is a petition written in response to the email offering a list of suggestions and requests inspired by educational institutions around the US as well as student responses: 


 TO CHANCELLOR BETH STROBLE, PRESIDENT JULIAN Z. SCHUSTER, THE WEBSTER UNIVERSITY COVID-19 TASK FORCE, AND THE WEBSTER UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATION. 


We, the students of Webster University, write to you today with great concern regarding the COVID-19 procedures that have been put into place in preparation for the Fall 2020 Semester, as outlined in the email sent out on July 31, 2020. We believe that the planned safety procedures put into place by Webster University for the Fall 2020 semester are severely underdeveloped, inadequate, and lacking in terms of safety for students, faculty, and administration.

In an article by Savannah Louie for KSDK published on July 30th, 2020, it was reported that the White House declared Missouri one of 21 ‘Red Zone States'. States where there have been a 79% increase in cases over the past two weeks since the date of the article’s publication. St. Louis County also boasts the highest number of confirmed cases (13,474 as of August 2nd, 2020) as well as deaths (650 as of August 2nd, 2020). These are just a few of the many unsettling COVID-19 statistics in Missouri, and the brutal reality is that it will continue to be unsettling until measures are taken on a local, state, and national scale.

Without mandatory procedures and necessary precautions put into place, it will only be a matter of time until the effects of COVID-19 take their toll on the Webster University community. In a survey of 214 Webster students, 64.5% of students said that they were not confident that Webster University was prepared and well-equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we strongly request that the University take immediate action to subdue the threat of a campus-wide outbreak by taking these steps inspired by other educational institutions around the nation as well as suggestions from current Webster students: 

  • Ensure that all students, teachers, and employees have free access to necessary PPEs including but not limited to: face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves etc. 
  • Ensure that all students, teachers, and employees at Webster University have uncompromised access to testing for COVID-19.
  • Webster University must require a two week quarantine for all students, teachers, and employees coming from states with high rates of COVID-19 before students are allowed to return to in-person classes.
  • Webster University needs to immediately adopt a hybrid learning model. Washington University has done this “with learning offered both in the classroom and remotely to serve students regardless of whether they are able to be on campus”. 
    • Webster needs to provide a course of action and plan to ensure that all students will have access to online learning alternatives for any class. 
    • Webster needs to ensure that teachers have enough resources and time to meet the demands of this proposed model.
  • Webster needs to ensure that on-site temperature screening will be provided at all building entrances before admittance into any building.
  • Students enrolled in experiential classes should be given the option to sign up for access to all studios, labs, etc., to ensure that classroom-specific tools remain available. Additionally, students should not be penalized for their refusal to use studios, labs, etc. 
  • All international students should be assured that they will still be able to continue to attend Webster while learning online.
  • Webster must ensure that, in the event that classes defer back to an online learning model,  students are refunded tuition equivalent to ½ of their remaining time that semester. 
  • Webster must ensure that, in the event that classes defer back to an online learning model,  students are refunded for housing costs equivalent to their remaining time that semester. 

We are living in times of unpredictability and instability, but one thing is certain: the safety and well-being of Webster University students, faculty, and employees must be held paramount. While the steps sent out by Webster are a start, they are exactly that--a start. We believe that the proposals listed above are attainable and will provide students and our parents with the reassurance that we need to continue our education in confidence. 

When students first arrive on campus, one thing we hear constantly is: ‘We are Webster’. We all make up the mosaic that is Webster. The community is watching how Webster responds to the threat of COVID-19. Students are watching. Parents are watching. Alumni are watching. Prospectives are watching. We hope that you will not only listen to our voices and ensure the health and safety of us all, but also allow us to hold you accountable to your commitment to Webster University students. 


Sources

https://source.wustl.edu/2020/07/washington-university-announces-plans-for-fall-semester/

https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/missouri-red-zone-state-white-house/63-c75f85d1-d9dc-4b04-ba9b-d8a6dd82f9bd

https://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/faq-covid-19-testing-on-campus-445092/

https://www.okcu.edu/main/coronavirus/

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