Open letter asks regents to take more action to protect university communities | Education News

CEDAR FALLS — An open letter to the Board of Regents and presidents of Iowa’s three public universities signed by 288 people calls for a series of changes to “do more to protect our campus communities” as COVID positivity rates rise -19 continue to rise.

The two-page letter places particular emphasis on “the children of faculty, staff and students”. He notes that “these children are either too young to be vaccinated or ineligible for COVID vaccine boosters.”

An open letter to the Iowa Board of Regents and presidents of Iowa Regent Universities emailed January 14, 2022, requesting that more protective measures against COVID-19 be taken.

Emailed to members of regents, college presidents and the media on Friday afternoon, the letter also includes 28 pages of names and other information about faculty, staff, students, parents and parents. other members of the community who have signed it.

Anne Marie Gruber, associate professor of library services at the University of Northern Iowa, sent the letter on behalf of those who signed it.

“The organizers of the letter felt it was important at this time to obtain signatures and share them publicly to demonstrate that there is support among the Regents for stronger mitigations, with our children in mind. , as we begin the spring semester in the midst of Omicron’s surge,” she says in an email response to questions.

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The letter was sent two days after Michael Richards, chairman of the board, announced that no changes would be made for the second half to the COVID-19 guidelines established for the fall.

“Campuses will continue to implement policies within the guidelines provided and in conjunction with the council office,” he said at the end of a meeting of regents on Wednesday.

The fall semester marked the return to no mask or social distancing requirements inside campus buildings following the previous year’s emergency measures. There are also no on-campus requirements regarding vaccinations.

The letter notes rising rates of COVID-19 in Black Hawk County, where UNI is located, and Johnson and Story counties, home to the University of Iowa and Iowa State.

“That’s before most college students arrive for the spring semester,” the letter says. “With the Omicron variant now dominating new cases, this spread will certainly increase over the coming weeks.”

Child care was “hanging by a thread” before the pandemic, he continues, “now we are seeing reductions in hours and closures, both temporary and permanent.”

The letter suggests that the health and care of the children of campus employees and students must be taken into account so that they can work and attend school.

“This group tends to be forgotten in the conversation about COVID mitigations on campus and in the community, yet the impact of campus workplace care needs, student success, and mental health is important. Current COVID protocols on our campuses were in place before Omicron, so updated approaches are needed,” the letter states.

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The signatories of the letter are calling for a universal mask mandate on all Regents campuses as well as campuses and contract nurseries/homes for ages 2+. They are also asking for childcare class-level notifications of positive cases and regular testing of those children through campus student health services. They want those measures in place on Monday.

Gruber noted UNI has one and Iowa State has three daycares. The University of Iowa partners with eleven private daycares.

By Jan. 24, letter signatories call on universities to provide air filtration devices and carbon dioxide monitors in childcare classrooms as well as paid time off options for employees . These would apply to carers impacted by a dependent’s COVID case or wishing to temporarily remove children from child care and schools.

On Wednesday, Richards emphasized common sense and individual responsibility in managing people’s health with a familiar refrain.

Michael Richards


“We’re all tired of COVID. I’m sick of it. But the most important thing anyone can do is get vaccinated,” he said.

“COVID-19 vaccines are very safe and effective. They massively stop serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” Richards added. “I’ve said it many times, I’ll say it again: get vaccinated.”


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