Faculty Senate passed a resolution Monday allowing professors to require face coverings in classroom settings amidst concerns about the coronavirus.
“We know that masks help us to avoid spreading the virus and forcing people to put something on their face could be read as regulating dress for the purpose of health and safety,” Ben Bates, a senator from the Scripps College of Communication, said. “And right now, our faculty handbook doesn't allow us to make any requirements for apparel, or appearance outside of classroom hours, and therefore, how do we go about asking people to put on masks?”
The resolution clarifies part 8D of the faculty handbook, which allows professors to ask students to dress in certain items of clothing for a specific class or activity. It also makes additions to a new section of the handbook that states dress requirements made for the purpose of public safety and personal health are to only be in effect for a student when they are on property owned or controlled by Ohio University. Dress requirements are also in effect at university-sponsored activities.
Faculty Senate also passed a resolution about faculty retirement plans.
The resolution allows faculty to choose from the four provided retirement providers or remain with their current provider. That means if someone has a retirement provider that is not one of the four providers - TIAA, AXA, AIG or Voya - they cannot put their retirement contributions under their account.
The change was never formally communicated to employees by OU, according to Susan Williams, a senator from the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
A resolution demanding the reinstatement of all instructional faculty, administrative employees, and classified employees who were terminated in the 2019-2020 academic year received a first reading.
“This resolution came out of several conversations with faculty across many campuses, about the impact of the loss of faculty and staff classified and administrative,” Robin Muhammad, chair of Faculty Senate, said. “We have, as a body, supported the retention of faculty and other employees.”
A resolution proposing that the return to campus in the Fall Semester continue the online framework used in the Spring 2020 Semester was also read.
That resolution would limit face-to-face instruction and create a learning environment similar to that of the Spring 2020 Semester.
“It calls for minimizing the risks ... by maximizing the amount of online or remote contact,” Doug Clowe, a senator from the College of Arts and Sciences, said.
OU Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs announced COVID-19 updates for colleges and classes will be finalized in early August.
By July 15, colleges will update their courses and teaching assignments for the fall, Sayrs said. The Registrar will then provide an updated schedule for review by July 27 to the colleges for a final check. Those schedules will be finalized by July 31, and changes will be communicated to students by August 3.
Additionally, the recommendation that classes of 70 or more students should be moved to online instruction has since been revised to classes of 30 or more students.
Sayrs also gave an update about making OU an anti-racist institution.
She said the university made a goal, among other “student success goals,” to close equity gaps for Pell Grant-eligible first-generation and African-American students.
Sayrs also said there is a “need to diversify the curricula.” She will be reaching out to people across campus discuss and hear ideas, including those in Faculty Senate.
BlackBoard will be receiving updates that affect navigation of the website for students and faculty. The features will include a new landing page, a profile page for students and an activity stream, amongst other anticipated updates.