Spring Reentry Principles

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


After months of observing the struggles that SUNY campuses encountered due to the lack of strong guidance from SUNY's leadership prior to the start of the fall semester, and after gathering input from our chapters through chapter presidents, vice presidents, labor relations specialists, organizers and – most importantly -- member town halls and webinars, UUP has finalized its guidelines for a safe reopening for the spring semester. We have built on the experiences of this semester and the work that SUNY has done since the arrival of Chancellor Malatras to create what I believe to be the strongest possible set of guidelines for SUNY to follow across the system. These guidelines call for SUNY to expand the testing of students upon arrival at campus in late January, increase the scope of surveillance testing throughout the semester, assure that campuses have sufficient on-campus contact training capability, and address air quality issues in many of its buildings. The guidelines also call for campuses to actively promote voluntary flu vaccination and to take action (though EAP and otherwise) to better address COVID-related mental health concerns of employees.

It is important to understand that our ongoing conversations with SUNY's leadership have been very productive on all levels regarding the safety and health of our workplaces and communities. We have solicited input from and engaged in continuous conversations with chapter leaders to represent the concerns of our members across our hospitals and various types of campuses.  Furthermore, it is clear that as COVID cases continue to rise in New York (though hopefully not at the rates we are seeing in so many other states) these conversations with our members and with SUNY will be crucial to ensure that the steps SUNY eventually takes at the start of the semester protect all of us from this deadly plague. The guidelines we are presenting you with will continue to form the main points of discussion with SUNY. 

I would especially like to thank the hard work done by the UUP Statewide Ad Hoc Health and Safety Committee, chaired by Dr. Phil Glick from UB in forging this latest version of guidelines. Their input has been crucial to its content and completion. 

Let's hope that this is the last semester we must prepare for in this fashion. Our institutions, our work environments, our professional lives, and our emotional health are all suffering during this terribly challenging time. I want to recognize – and thank – our colleagues who have served our communities with such distinction, at the frontlines of this pandemic in the SUNY hospitals and in offices across SUNY that deal directly with students and the public.  Your work has been exemplary, and I will continue to fight for just compensation and recognition of your great public service. 

I urge you to do all that you can to take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and our communities. Please take all precautions to protect yourselves from the coronavirus during the upcoming holiday season. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a long and difficult journey to that hoped-for relief. Let us sustain ourselves and each other, knowing that we are doing the work necessary to build a more just, safe, and equitable society. It's what we do and who we are. 

In Solidarity,