Message from the President – Update on Return to Campus

Dear Colleagues,

On 12 July 2021, I, as FA President, sent a letter to the UBC senior administration asking a variety of questions about the reopening plans for UBC’s campuses. The questions were prompted by many communications we had received from our members. Some of the questions were questions of detail regarding expectable scenarios in our classroom, labs, libraries, and offices that were not addressed in the 5 July Guidelines. I also asked, however, to see the University’s risk-benefit analysis, in order to see the facts and the values underpinning the decision not to go beyond the provisions in 5 July reopening guidelines. The FA has not to-date received a response to this letter of 12 July.

In light of the recent massive increase in cases in BC, the virulence of the delta variant, which is beginning to dominate here, and with the advantage of seeing what is happening in other jurisdictions that are relying only on voluntary measures, but without the benefit of the University’s own thinking, the FA has decided it must now formulate its own position. In our thinking we have considered the preeminent moral concern of the University to be the health and wellbeing of its employees and students and of their families. We also owe special consideration to those among us with the greatest health vulnerabilities.

So today we have sent a letter to President Ono and the Chair of the Board of Governors Nancy McKenzie proposing the following set of measures:

“In light of the known knowns, known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns, and in the absence of any risk analysis brought forward by the University, we now believe that a robustly precautionary approach is most appropriate. We therefore call upon UBC to adopt an indoor mask mandate in all its spaces and a vaccine mandate for all its employees and students (subject to the normal legal exemptions) in advance of the September reopening. This course of action will not only do the most to alleviate well-founded anxiety but will also allow the most secure planning of teaching and research activities.”

We look forward to working with the University to bring these policies into effect.

Alan Richardson