Union representing U of T wants University to suspend on-campus learning
Published October 20, 2020 at 8:38 pm
The union that represents University of Toronto workers is demanding the university, which operates campuses in Mississauga, Scarborough and Toronto, to suspend in-class learning in response to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The campus coalition of CUPE 3902 says that U of T’s Oct. 10 announcement, which called for all fitness centres to close, food services to shift to takeout-only and for all “social gatherings and organized events” to be subject to new limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, came “too late.”
According to CUPE 3902’s recent news release, the Faculty of Arts & Science announced on Oct. 10, 2020, that all classes that currently offered both online and in-person sessions would move completely online for the remainder of the Fall semester. Now, the union is asking deans and principals to review all other in-person activities.
After several outbreaks on campus, CUPE 3902 says it was advised that screening for students and staff had become mandatory.
“Our members are already paying the price of U of T’s irresponsible attitude,” said CUPE 3902 Chair Amy Conwell in a statement. “Predictable COVID-19 outbreaks are happening on campus and we hold the University of Toronto responsible.
Back in July, CUPE 3902 and a coalition of other campus Unions called for Fall term classes to be offered online-only in anticipation of the second wave of COVID-19 cases.
The union said the university refused to meet with the coalition to discuss reopening plans despite public calls to do so from more than twenty professors in the Health Science department.
Staff unions requested that U of T establish mandatory screening, on-campus testing, centralized contact logs and to take the Fall semester online. In response to this, the university launched UCheck, which is a U of T branded voluntary self-assessment tool that pulls together public health guidance.
According to U of T’s website, students can expect a mix of smaller on-campus courses, seminars, labs and more with larger online and remote courses and lectures.
“You’ll have access to co-curricular activities and student services, across our three campuses and remotely. And you can be assured that the health and safety of our entire community is our highest priority,” the website reads.
The union says the university has taken the position that it has no obligation to inform University Joint Health and Safety Committees when students who have been present in their workplaces test positive for COVID-19.
They have expressed their concerns with U of T’s current approach by saying that it violates employees’ rights to be made aware of hazards in their workplaces.
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