AAUP–Penn Statement on Covid and Fall 2021 Teaching Plans

AAUP–Penn recognizes that the Covid situation continues to develop and change, and that administrators at Penn and elsewhere have difficult decisions to make in the weeks ahead. Having said that, we believe that crucial principles are at stake here, and that policy decisions must stem from them.

At Penn, as a global institution with local, regional, national, and international responsibilities, the Covid pandemic remains a powerful challenge to institutional functioning. Given this challenge, AAUP–Penn remains very concerned about the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, faculty, and community. To take one instance, even vaccinated faculty are very worried that they may carry infection to unvaccinated young children in their homes or neighborhoods.

While the pandemic rages, health and safety must come before all other institutional concerns. Many faculty at Penn and other universities are rightly concerned about university requirements that they must hold in-person classes during Fall 2021 term. We understand that our academic responsibilities are primarily to meet the educational needs of our students, but we also recognize the necessity of protecting each other in dangerous times. Thus, the Executive Committee of the Penn chapter of AAUP calls for the University to endorse a policy permitting all faculty (including graduate student instructors and all categories of contingent faculty) to conduct some or all of their classes online, in-person, or in a hybrid mode. Of course, if it becomes necessary for public health reasons to return to the prior academic year’s model of exclusively online teaching, we will endorse such a policy.