Give teachers a choice in classroom format

Give teachers a choice in classroom format
Art by Enrique Viveros

The faculty at Pensacola State College (PSC) will be required to teach a minimum of two face-to-face classes this upcoming spring semester despite U.S. cases of COVID-19 reaching an all-time high.

Pensacola State College (PSC), for what it’s worth, has done an overall good job with regards to COVID. The school handled in-person classes safely, being very thorough in cleaning classrooms, setting classes in larger classrooms, and only allowing a limited number of students per in-person class. Precautions like these are all combined to make for as safe of an experience as could be done on campus. However, faculty may not be able to maintain this level of safety.

On September 25th, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order putting Florida in Phase 3 of re-opening after COVID. It ruled that all previous COVID-based executive orders are null, opening businesses to full capacity among other rollbacks, including those affecting schools. 

During the Spring 2021 semester at PSC, department heads must assign at least two face-to-face classes per faculty member. Accommodations will not be made for at-risk groups, such as those with asthma or diabetes. 

Faculty were not given the chance to argue against this.

“You can certainly understand the disappointment faculty feel after being denied a seat at the table where decisions are being made that impact not only faculty working conditions but also student learning conditions. We have not been consulted, and when we raise concerns, those concerns are often dismissed or ignored,” said Pensacola State Faculty Association (PSCFA) President Deborah McClintock.

PSC faculty members should be able to work from home during the global pandemic if they do not feel safe meeting for face-to-face classes or if they are part of an at-risk group.

Over the last month, the United States has seen an increase in COVID cases, with many states reaching their peak of new cases in this time period. 

As of December 4, Florida has hit 1,058,074 new cases of COVID-19. Escambia County saw a decline in new cases after June, however it has recently been on a steady incline, hitting 17,617 cases as of December 4th.

PSC’s location and its number of both college and dual-enrolled students makes it a center of the community of Escambia County. The safety of both students and faculty is of utmost importance. An outbreak at the college could lead to an outbreak in Escambia and potentially surrounding counties such as Santa Rosa. 

Requiring instructors to teach face-to-face classes puts their lives in danger and potentially their students’ and families’ lives as well. Even with the best social distancing measures, the CDC says going out puts you at a risk. Period. 

On Wednesday December 2, a meeting was held between the PSCFA and the United Faculty of Florida (UFF). During the meeting the two groups came together to find ways to persuade the administration to reconsider  listening to faculty.

As members of the PSC community, safety should be the school’s foremost priority. 

The PSCFA has just released a blog post for faculty telling them various ways they can fight for better accommodations for the spring term, and you can help by spreading the word and letting your teachers know you support them. 

Talk to your teachers about this, ask them how they feel and if they were given a say. Email or write a letter to the administration. 

We care about the faculty and student body at PSC. 

Our voices should be heard.