Some VCU professors calling for virtual fall semester instead of in-person instruction

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University has decided to do in-person learning this year with safety measures in place, but not all professors are on board with the decision.

About 100 VCU professors, who are part of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), are calling on the university’s President (Dr. Michael Rao) to switch to virtual learning this fall.

RELATED: VCU outlines COVID-19 safety guidelines, professor association calls for virtual return

“Believe me, professors would love to go back to the classroom, but given the current situation, we just think it’s not safe to go back to the classroom,” said including Dr. Tim Bajkiewicz, a broadcast professor at VCU and the Communications Director for the VCU Chapter of the AAUP.

In a formal resolution, the professors say they worry about the uptick in COVID-19 cases without a vaccine.

“Many local school districts, including ​Richmond Public Schools itself​, have already indicated that the fall 2020 semester will be conducted entirely online,” the resolution states.

Dr. Tim Bajkiewicz

Neighboring higher education institutions like the University of Virginia and Virginia State University have also delayed in-person learning.

“The simplest thing that we’re looking at is, essentially, if a class can be online, it should be online,” Bajkiewicz said.

RELATED: VCU sending COVID-19 test kits to students living on campus

The university has rolled out its guidelines for a safe return. Some of the protocols in place include more than 2,000 hand sanitizer and wipes dispensers, social distancing markers to remind students to stay six feet apart, and plexiglass.

In a statement, VCU said: “Virginia Commonwealth University is committed to the safety, health and security of our faculty, staff and students. We have been working with our community to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection as we return to campus this fall.”

According to the university, VCU has 2,500 full-time staff and more than 900 adjunct faculty members.

“We have provided resources to help faculty reduce their risk of COVID-19 on campus and provided them with the flexibility to deliver their courses in their preferred modality: 47.3 percent of our courses are being held entirely face-to-face, 34.7 percent are entirely online, 12.6 percent are hybrid (meaning more than 30 percent of the course time is spent face-to-face) and 5.5 percent are blended (meaning less than 30 percent of the course time is spent face-to-face),” the university said.

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