AU chapter of AAUP discusses changes for fall semester

Hannah Joslin |
Staff writer

The Augusta University chapter of the American Association of University Professors hosted a virtual meeting on Friday, May 22, to discuss concerns about what the fall semester will look like.

When looking at concerns for moving forward, AAUP focused on two questions: (1) How will the fall semester look, and (2) will there still be social distancing?

Sandrine Catris, the AU chapter president for AAUP, said the group still has a wait-and-see attitude concerning plans to return instruction to campus in August.

“We discussed many questions regarding concerns and plans to move forward,” she said. “However, to be honest, we do not know all of the answers yet. Everything has to be approved by the university system, and even the people over us are still trying to resolve these uncertain concerns.”

Catris, an assistant professor of history, said AAUP wants to see classes made safe before they take place face to face. She also said students, parents and faculty have concerns about the amount of people in individual classes and how social distancing could be practiced in classrooms that were not built large enough for this situation. She said there are many factors that come into play when discussing these solutions.

Moving to all online courses when the weather changes in the late fall when a second wave of COVID-19 is expected was one of the big discussion topics during the meeting. The pros are that going online is helpful for the safety of everyone, but there are also many courses (including labs and internships) that are difficult to accomplish through an online platform.

This led to a discussion of the resources needed to go online again. Much more work is required to design online courses, the group noted. AU plans to have a more detailed training session for professors. Those will be given by IT in June and July. Students also need some training to accustom themselves to online instruction.

“We hope to have face-to-face classes, but everything is still unknown,” Catris said. “With this, we discuss ways for people at high risks for COVID to allow online courses.”

AAUP members also discussed the announced 14-percent budget cuts. USG has already announced furloughs, and AU put in its proposed cuts before the May 25 deadline to submit its plans for the Fall 2020 Semester.

Catris said AAUP is closely monitoring changes being made due to the pandemic.

“As COVID-19 continues to grow and develop, questions and concerns do too,” she said. “We do not have all the answers yet, but we are doing everything we can to get them, while also keeping everyone safe.”

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