Covid19 KFA Membership Update: March 16, 2020
To All KFA Members,
Like you, we have been closely monitoring the unfolding COVID-19 situation and related communications from the Employer over the past few weeks. Given the recent escalation in recommended actions, both from the University and the provincial and federal governments, we want to provide you with some reassurances regarding the parameters of what is being asked of you, as well as information regarding our own operational plans for the coming weeks.
We recognize that the core motivation of our members is always to provide students with the best education possible. For many of you, doing your best may mean transitioning your essential course materials online in an extraordinarily short amount of time, as the Employer has been encouraging you to do. This step may in fact be particularly welcome for some of our members who are among the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19, and thus keen to maintain a generous ‘social distance’.
For many faculty, however, our best simply does not include a shift to online delivery, especially (though not only) at such a frantic pace. If, after carefully considering available possibilities, you find yourself arriving at this conclusion, we want to convey to you the following: based on the principles enshrined in our Collective Agreement, the Employer *cannot require* faculty to put their classes online. As faculty, you have the expertise and best situational knowledge to determine what is necessary and feasible for students to meet the learning outcomes of your courses in these unprecedented circumstances. We encourage you to develop an alternative plan for seeing out the term accordingly, and to communicate this to your Dean or Supervisor. If you experience resistance or undue pressure to take actions that you do not feel are appropriate, please contact us for support.
In terms of KFA operations, we are continuing to discuss developments and voice faculty perspectives with senior KPU leadership. We are very concerned about the many significant impacts of recent events on faculty working conditions. Our Table Officers will continue to be available to you by email (both individually and via https://yourkfa.ca/contact/) or by phone during regular office hours (please leave a voicemail; if we are not in the office, we will receive notification of your call via Outlook and call you back). For those of you comfortable with online options, we are also happy to meet with you virtually via Microsoft Teams or Zoom. We will be endeavouring to keep the KFA Office open, with at least one Table Officer present, but we will also be providing our staff the option of working from home, so please contact us per above if the Office is closed. Regretfully, we will be curtailing access to coffee and tea in the KFA Office, and cancelling Open Office hours at Richmond, Langley, and Cloverdale campuses until further notice.
Finally, we want to encourage all of our members to be sure to prioritize taking care of yourselves, your families and your neighbours. As you decide on how best to move forward with your courses, please remember to factor in the time needed to maintain your own physical and mental health and well-being. The exceptional measures being asked of you at this time are part of a collective, perhaps quietly heroic effort to preserve the welfare of society, but they will defeat this purpose if your own welfare is compromised in the process. Now, as ever, we stand with you in upholding your rights to a safe and healthy working environment.
Bob Davis, Diane Walsh, Raphael Lagoutin, Mark Diotte, Romy Kozak, and Betty Cunnin