Faculty Senate has asked the administration at Texas A&M University-San Antonio for the freedom to teach and conduct university business online, and to restore other COVID-19 protections this semester.
The senate presented three resolutions to the president Aug. 18, Faculty Senate President Joseph Simpson said in a Zoom interview Aug.23.
Senators voted to adopt the resolutions at a special session meeting Aug. 18.
In a 16-2 vote, the first resolution called on university administration to allow faculty to move courses online, hold online office hours and attend meetings virtually without penalty or public censure.
Additionally, in consideration of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the senate called for the ability to ensure that students, faculty and staff have the option to practice social distancing in classrooms and other university settings.
Twenty faculty members voted for this measure that would allow faculty to de-densify classrooms at the instructor’s discretion.
“Some universities have done this, if you have a Tuesday/Thursday class, where half the class meets on Tuesday and half the class meets on Thursday,” Simpson said.
In addition, a resolution calling for local institutional control over COVID-19 related decisions was approved by 20 senators and forwarded to Gov. Greg Abbott.
Simpson said, although he does not expect a response from the governor, he does hope to hear from The Office of the President about the resolutions before the next senate meeting, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sept. 3 on Webex.
One resolution, not supported by the senate, included measures to increase and establish stricter guidelines for mandatory testing and to incentivize vaccination on campus.
After discussing each resolution, one senator abstained from voting, Simpson said.
Simpson said it is important to adopt these resolutions because the pandemic is still pervasive in Texas, and members of the campus community have children at home too young to get vaccinated.
“All of these protections, save the vaccine, have been utilized by the university during the pandemic when the circumstances were not as dire as they are now,” Simpson said. “We have lost the will and/or ability to continue to offer these protections.”