Organizers want remote learning until positivity rate hits 1%
About three dozen students gathered outside One Silber Way on Tuesday afternoon to protest BU’s COVID policies for the semester, which they say are not enough to protect students and faculty.
“Sick students can’t learn!” Sick teachers cannot teach! chanted the group, hoping that the administration could hear them on the upper floors of the building.
An ad hoc group from the School of Social Work organized the protest, which was also attended by students from the School of Theology, as well as from elsewhere on campus, and some faculty members. SSW students circulated a petition and toolkit on security requirements, and they recently met with Jorge Delva, Dean of SSW and Professor Paul Farmer, to voice their concerns. But with no change in policy, they decided to take to the sidewalks.
“We have to protect each other,” said one of the organizers, Ashley Shen (SSW’23), who led the chants for “Be Better, BU!”
“Make President Brown Hear!” said organizer David Andrade (SSW’23), who hit a metal pot and spoon as he led a group out of SSW and down Bay State Road on their way to the protest. “At least listen to us and protect us.”
The main demands of the group are that the University move to remote learning until BU’s COVID-19 positivity rate is 1% or less and that BU make additional accommodation available for students, instructors and administrative staff self-isolating/quarantining due to exposure to COVID-19. or illness so that they can pursue their academic or professional responsibilities remotely.
As University protocols changed this semester, President Robert A. Brown announced that professors may provide lecture recordings to isolated or quarantined students until Feb. 18, when the policy will be reassessed. Additionally, faculty members who test positive for COVID, but are well enough to teach, will be permitted to move their classes to remote learning via Zoom for the duration of their isolation period, currently five. days.
But that’s not enough for protesters over the highly contagious variant of Omicron, especially when some area universities, including Harvard, have returned to remote learning for the start of the semester.
“Masks are disposable, people are not,” one sign said. Flipping one of BU 2020’s anti-COVID slogans, protesters chanted, “F*ck it will’t cut it!”
Several students took turns on the megaphone, explaining why they were there, including that they were immunocompromised themselves or worried about the elderly and children with whom many social work students work in internships and field courses.
“The lack of contact tracing for me was one of the things that pushed me over the edge,” said Jaye Ward (SSW’23), another organizer. “I work with older people in a residential setting as part of my internship, and I have elderly family members.”
She said she understood the value of in-person learning – she had postponed her admission to SSW in 2020 to avoid distance learning – “but to protect the wider community, it’s a sacrifice I would make. “.
Ward also brought a lighter note to the event with a sign reading: Maybe if I develop 4 COVID feelings it will go away.
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