Faculty Union Urges Miami Dade College To Hold Fall Classes Fully Online

After Miami Dade College unveiled a plan earlier this week that could bring students back on campus on a limited basis by Sept. 28, the faculty union penned a strongly worded letter urging that the fall semester be fully online.

The letter—written by United Faculty of Miami Dade College president Elizabeth Ramsay on July 21—says it’s “impossible” to implement social distancing, sanitize classrooms and ensure adequate ventilation on campus if students return.

“A possible shift to face-to-face classes in week five, or thereafter, is academically unsound,” Ramsay wrote. “It undermines the clarity and consistency students have a right to expect from the institution and their professors.” 

The union is scheduled to have a conference call on July 28 with college administrators to voice their concerns, Ramsay said.

Chief among their complaints: switching from a remote to hybrid structure in the middle of a semester is chaotic, because it does not give professor’s sufficient time to prepare for the transition.

UFMDC is also requesting to know if Personal Protective Equipment will be required and provided, if testing will be conducted on campus, and what the College’s self-isolation, contract tracing and privacy policies will be if someone contracts the coronavirus.

The College has previously said that if classes return on-campus on a limited basis, social distancing will be practiced, masks will be required, class sizes will be kept to 10-15 students at a time and rooms will be cleaned in between classes and at the end the day. 

In a video statement sent to students and staff Wednesday morning, Executive Vice President and Provost Lenore Rodicio said plans to return on campus ultimately rely on guidance from federal, state and local officials.

“This plan for the fall semester is not set in stone, but we know many students and faculty are anxiously awaiting for our decision, particularly since many of the area colleges and universities have already come out with their plan,” Rodicio said.

On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 2,759 new cases of coronavirus in Miami-Dade County. Approximately 92,345 cases have been reported in the county, bringing Florida’s total to 379,619.

“I like the classroom and I like to be in person and I know students like it,” said Jairo Ledesma, a history and sociology professor at Homestead Campus. “But at the same time, our health or well being is more important than being in the classroom. I would feel better if [classes] are remote all the way to January—I’m cool with that.”