Email Copies · Fall 2020 Reopening · Position Statement

An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees of the University System of New Hampshire Regarding Reopening our Campus in Fall 2020

We applaud the honest and dedicated work of all who have invested in plans to reopen Plymouth State University this fall. Unfortunately, the situation we see continuing to unfold across this nation and our state argues against the possibility of opening our campus for this fall semester safely and without undue risk to our students, ourselves, and our community.

The risk to our neighbors and region demand we err on the side of safety and health for all. In this, we need to be leaders as faculty, as an institution of public trust, as a university system, and as stewards of public education for all.

It is clear from numerous surveys, public letters, and other statements that the majority of our faculty and staff feel great concern and fear about returning in person in the fall. The University and the University System have researched procedures and technologies to try to mitigate the dangers, but we are not convinced that any procedures or technologies can make our campus safe at this time.

We can provide an online experience that rivals any curricula in our state and region. We speak on behalf of our collected faculty to say that we are dedicated to remote work for this coming semester (and beyond, if necessary), despite the challenges. When conditions improve, we look forward to a return to campus.

We understand there will be significant financial ramifications if students do not return to campus. However, the certain risks of students, faculty, staff, and surrounding community members becoming ill and dying from COVID-19 far outweigh the financial concerns. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Board of Trustees, as well as the leaders of the state of New Hampshire, to both protect the safety of our students and those who work for the University, as well as to provide for the long-term stability of our public institutions of higher education. What is more, we are all aware that the University System has run significant budget surpluses in recent years. We trust that these surpluses have been stewarded in such a way as to help us navigate through these financial difficulties.

We trust that our recommendation joins those of faculty from across the state, sentiments voiced by students at each institution, and the growing concerns emerging in the public discourse regarding the right course.

Please help us protect the safety of our university community by allowing us to provide our educational experience to students in a fully online mode for the coming semester..

Signed,

The Executive Committee of the Plymouth State University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors

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