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Workers Dissatisfied with UGA's Webinar

The UGA chapter of United Campus Workers of Georgia (UCWGA) appreciates that the UGA administration acquiesced to the call from an array of campus constituencies, including UCWGA and the Faculty Senates of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education, for the webinar with the UGA community on 8/4 to address concerns with the fall reopening plan. 

To their credit, the administration took some tough questions. Unfortunately, they either didn’t answer them (as in Provost Hu’s remarks on testing), or else gave answers that are categorically unacceptable (as in President Morehead’s remarks on closing guidelines).  Sadly, they also failed to discuss the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.  This is especially dismaying given that Ana Cabrera, a 32 year old service and maintenance worker at UGA, recently passed from COVID-19.  The failure of President Morehead and others on yesterday’s webinar to acknowledge the passing of a UGA community member is deeply disconcerting.

We emphasize:

    •    We do not want a campus shut down.  Over the summer, faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and UGA parents have signed open letters to UGA and USG, submitted urgent requests, passed resolutions, and signed and delivered petitions, pleading with UGA and USG to take public health and safety seriously in order to avoid a campus shut down and ensure the continuity of instruction in the fall.  All of our requests have and will continue to be made with the goal of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping campus open. 

    •    Students must be provided safe housing where they can quarantine in the event they test positive.  The university’s current plan is to strongly encourage students to return to their permanent residence, where they will expose their families and loved ones. 

    •    Students, staff, and faculty must be informed of a positive case in their living space, work space, and classroom so that they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their families, and their community.  As University Health Center Executive Director Garth Russo made clear yesterday (item 6), UGA does not plan to inform students, staff, and faculty of a positive case because it will be assumed that distancing practices will be respected at all times in residence halls, common areas, work spaces, and classrooms.  Not only is this assumption deeply problematic, but this policy goes against CDC guidelines.  

    •    We need clear and transparent guidelines for if and when UGA will need to shift to remote instruction.  Yesterday’s answer that this responsibility falls to the Board of Regents is deeply unsatisfactory.

    •    Yesterday’s webinar failed to address concerns about the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) inability to carry out contact tracing.  Between June 23 and July 8, DPH interviewed a mere 37% of those who tested positive.  It is unclear how UGA and DPH will work together on contact tracing and which institution holds primary responsibility.

    •    The university’s current plan to test 300 asymptomatic volunteers a day is woefully inadequate. 

What you can do: Call President Morehead’s office at 706-542-1214 or email him at and insist that

    1.    Students, staff, and faculty be notified of a positive case in their living space, work space, and classroom;

    2.    Students be provided safe housing to quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19

    3.    Demand clear and transparent guidelines for a shift to remote instruction, responsibility for contact tracing, and increased testing.

The points above are elaborated here, including a link to a transcript of the 8/4 UGA webinar.

In order to register the sentiment of the community on these issues, on Thursday, August 6th at noon, UGA students, staff, and faculty, supported by members of the United Campus Workers of Georgia, will stage a physically distant, masked “die-in” to protest President Morehead's decision that our students’, coworkers’, and Athens citizens' lives aren’t worth the cost of protection- or as some are calling it, his "death calculus." The protest will take place on UGA’s North Campus.