Petition calls on OU officials to change ‘Safe and Resilient’ return to campus plan


NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – In a matter of months, students from across the country will be heading back to colleges and universities for the first time since March.

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold of Oklahoma in March, the University of Oklahoma decided to close its campus and moved to online classes for the remainder of the semester.

When the semester ended, many people were wondering what the future would look like when it came to the fall semester.

In April, OU Interim President Joseph Harroz, Jr. announced that in-person instruction would return in the fall.

“After careful deliberation, our intention is to return to in-person educational operations on all three campuses by this fall, offering traditional instruction and residential life. We are doing everything we can to make that realistic and safe. We are acutely aware of the certain challenges COVID-19 will present as we pursue this goal and are planning to address the issues proactively and creatively,” Harroz said in the letter. “We are prepared to adapt instructional and housing models as appropriate to protect our community and still offer the life-changing in-person OU experience. Flexibility will be a guiding principle as we navigate the coming months, and we will ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are presented with appropriate options to return to our campuses, keeping their safety top of mind.”

Two months later, OU officials announced that the university would be adopting a mask policy, requiring all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear facial coverings on campus.

“In classrooms and common spaces of the university, we will fully expect students to wear masks anytime they are in those facilities,” OU’s Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said.

As students prepare to head back to class on Aug. 24, the university has made a few modifications in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Before returning to campus, all employees and students will be required to complete a screening form.

Also, courses with more than 40 students will be held online and courses with a smaller class size will be able to use the larger classrooms to stay under capacity.

To learn more about the changes, visit OU’s Safe and Resilient website.

Although some changes have been made, many students and faculty members are still concerned about the dangers of COVID-19.

Recently, a petition was created to urge university officials to adjust the “Safe and Resilient” plan due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.

The petition asks for the following:

  • No OU instructor, including graduate teaching assistants, will be required to teach in person and all OU instructors will be afforded decision-making power over curriculum and method of instruction.
  • All staff members who are able to meet their responsibilities remotely will be permitted and encouraged to do so, and will be provided the equipment and supplies required for their work.
  • No student will be required to attend class in person, and all students of the university will be afforded the choice to attend classes entirely online.
  • No teacher, staff, or student will be required to disclose their personal medical conditions or those of their family members in order to be permitted to teach, work, or attend classes entirely online. Also, no university employee will be required to use paid sick leave or FMLA leave in order to quarantine in the event of COVID-19 exposure.

So far, more than 1,300 people have signed the petition, including 342 OU staff or faculty members.

KFOR reached out to the University of Oklahoma about the petition and was sent the following statement:

“The pandemic has created challenges never seen before and with that comes a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety. The University has received and reviewed the petition and, as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, is keeping the safety, health, and welfare of each community member in mind as plans for a fall return continue to develop. Norman campus faculty will receive information on possible flexible teaching arrangements this week. Similar information for Norman campus staff and students is forthcoming.”

University of Oklahoma statement


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