Higher education union wants safer SUNY reopening

Aug 5, 2020

With some colleges gearing up to bring students back to campus this fall, many of their employees are worried about the safety of students, faculty and staff.

The nation’s largest higher education union–United University Professions–is urging New York State lawmakers to modify their requirements for colleges in the state university system to reopen.

During a virtual rally on Wednesday, their biggest recommendations were to require diagnostic testing for all students, faculty and staff, contact tracing on campuses, and for schools to provide personal protective equipment for faculty and staff.

“We declare that here we will do all that must be done–testing, tracing, protecting each other,” said UUP’s president Fred Kowal.

He was joined by three students from SUNY Fredonia who wrote the Call For Safer Fredonia Reopening petition. Elizabeth Haan–co-author of the letter–shared safety concerns from a student’s perspective. 

“We believe that prioritizing the health and safety through testing, as described in our letter, not only at our own school but at all SUNY Schools has significant potential to outweigh the financial burden of having to return home mid-semester,” said Haan.

“We are evaluating best practices for testing, screening, and contact tracing to seek ways to scale cost-effective measures across SUNY campuses,” a representative for SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said.