The Faculty Academic Policy Committee (FAP) met on Oct. 8 to be briefed and provide feedback on the administration’s latest health and safety plan for having the majority of students on campus for the spring 2021 semester. This update summarizes that conversation and the feedback that FAP provided.
The administration reported that one of the most significant risks identified in the summer, the availability of testing, has been mitigated, and the College’s provider has demonstrated it can support testing needs for the spring semester. Additionally, although the fall semester has demonstrated the challenges of maintaining acceptable COVID-19 transmission rates at institutions across the county, there also is evidence that institutions similar to, and larger than, Lafayette (e.g., Colgate, Bucknell, and Boston College) have been able to maintain acceptable rates with a majority of students on-campus.
It was made explicit by the provost that the decision to teach in-person (initially and at any time during the semester) remains the instructor’s choice.
The committee discussed the most recent understanding of COVID-19 airborne transmission. The administration acknowledged this risk and reported it is considering room ventilation in its decisions on how to use spaces on campus. The administration explained that Lafayette is in compliance with CDC guidelines for contact tracing, but noted that they do not require contacting individuals who spent time in a space after an infected individual was present. The committee asked the administration to share collected building airflow data, as well as the criteria ultimately used to schedule the use of shared spaces, with faculty and staff.
The committee and the administration agreed on the importance of making faculty, staff, and students accountable for following required safety policies. The administration explained its intent to cultivate a culture of safety that does not primarily rely on punitive action. The committee asked the administration to make the consequences of habitual non-compliance significant and clear to all members of the campus community.
The administration also reported its plan to manage an outbreak that includes students sheltering in place and the College using both on-campus and off-campus facilities to isolate students as necessary.
Contact Dan Sabatino, chair of FAP, for questions or comments.