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United Faculty of Florida at UF files grievance against University of Florida

United Faculty of Florida has filed a grievance against the University of Florida over the...
United Faculty of Florida has filed a grievance against the University of Florida over the school’s spring 2021 reopening plan.(WCJB)
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 4:04 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - United Faculty of Florida at UF has filed a grievance against the University of Florida over the school’s spring 2021 reopening plan.

UF President Kent Fuchs issued a video statement last month to faculty and staff, saying he and the school administration are planning for more in-person classes in the spring.

RELATED STORY: University of Florida will attempt more in-person learning in the spring

“We argue that the university has violated its contractual responsibility to provide safe working conditions for its employees and to make a fair and reasonable attempt to accommodate faculty members wishing to work remotely for health reasons,” said the UFF-FL in a statement.

“We contend that the university’s move to face-to-face instruction before the pandemic has ended is motivated by political considerations and implicit threats of budget cuts to the university from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis,” added the UFF-FL. “We question whether the university’s plan to go to a Hy-Flex model of instruction, where a handful of students will be in class and the rest will be watching the class remotely, is a good learning environment for UF’s students.

“We are aware that faculty concerned about returning to face-to-face instruction have faced a number of obstacles in their requests to teach remotely in the spring. Despite guidance to the contrary from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), UF is not considering age as a factor for accommodations, nor are they accounting for a host of conditions that may present an increased risk for severe illness from COVID, including asthma, Type 1 diabetes, and pregnancy. Nor are accommodations being considered for caregivers of vulnerable individuals, or for parents of children whose schooling or daycare might be interrupted by the virus. Some faculty have found that their doctors refuse to fill out the required medical documentation, due to privacy and other legal concerns.”

RELATED STORY: Groups are concerned as UF President Kent Fuchs pushes for changes in the spring

UF Workers for a Safe Reopening, United Faculty of Florida at UF, and other organizations hosted a rally outside of the president’s home on campus on Sunday to voice these same concerns.

We reached out to UF leaders for comment over the weekend, and they referred us to President Fuch’s statement from Oct. 9, where he said, “the next step we must take is to significantly increase the opportunity for students to experience in-person, face-to-face learning. Our students deserve this opportunity.”

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