UFE COVID-19 Updates; Leadership Election Results

May 29, 2020

The UFE membership overwhelmingly voted on May 15 to endorse the following 2020-22 slate of candidates for the UFE leadership team. Congratulations to Chair, Shawn Hazboun; Vice-Chair, Laurie Meeker; Communications Coordinator, Julie Russo; Treasurer, Marla Elliott; Stewards Coordinator, Leslie Flemmer; At-Large Members, Judith Gabriele and Sandy Yannone. Members elected to the Stewards Council include: Steve Blakeslee, and Suzanne Simons. Thank you everyone for your service!

UFE Election Committee: Brad Procter, Michael Vavrus & Grace Huerta


May 18, 2020–COVID-19 Working Conditions & Research

Greetings UFE members. We have received emails from UFE colleagues regarding requests from the administration (via webform) for fall catalogue program information, including info about the mode of your instructional delivery: remote, hybrid and/or F2F. Also, additional information about your delivery choice was requested regarding the identification of high risk categories and teaching partners (if applicable). Please note, we have not yet begun bargaining with the administration regarding such topics as: specific workplace safety, budget ramifications and the nature and extent of support for faculty and staff. We will begin discussion of these topics this afternoon, May 18. For now, I thought I would share with you Article 18 from the current CBA regarding workplace safety. You can also visit our website (https://www.ufevergreen.org/) to review more research about COVID-19, social distancing, PPE, asymptomatic spread, ventilation/HVAC concerns, hygiene, classroom transition/cleaning, etc. Here’s Article 18:

18.1 The College and UFE are committed to providing a safe and secure work environment.  
18.2 The College shall maintain all facilities, equipment and materials in a safe and healthful condition that will comply with state and federal statutes regarding safety in the workplace.
18.3 Protective devices and clothing, and first aid equipment shall be provided to faculty members whose teaching requires such measures; if necessary, training will be provided to faculty members on the safe operation of the equipment prior to use.
18.4 Faculty members are entitled to a timely review of a workstation to evaluate ergonomic issues.  
18.5 Faculty members shall not be required to work under hazardous conditions nor perform tasks that endanger their health or safety.  No faculty member shall be disciplined or suffer a loss in pay for refusing to work in a situation where a reasonable person, acting in good faith, would conclude that there is a real danger of death or serious injury, as described in WAC 296-360-150 (See: “Discrimination Because of Exercise of Right Afforded by WISHA—Refusal to Work in an Unsafe Condition”: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=296-360-150).

That’s all for now! We will keep you posted soon.

In solidarity,
Grace Huerta
UFE Chair


May 11, 2020–UFE Issues a Demand to Bargain

Greetings UFE members. On May 11, 2020 during the AC meeting, the UFE issued a Demand to Bargain. While the administration laid out its plans for a fall reopening specific to working conditions without UFE input, we certainly share an important concern: the need for safe working and learning conditions for our community. However, we also feel it is important that faculty are aware of some COVID-19 literature BEFORE filling out the fall instruction/catalogue survey (and academic fair info) that the administration requested we sign. Please note we have not yet negotiated important decisions about faculty workload, testing, what safe space scheduling is available, safe instructional protocols, as well as the budget for safety and remote instructional support (i.e. CARES Act funding, etc). See the following link for a perspective about COVID 19 transmission, safety, tracing and asymptomatic transmission that may inform your pedagogical decisions: https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/The-Risks-Know-Them-Avoid-Them.html. NEW! Also see our colleague Clarissa Dirks’ research presentation entitled: “Out of the House and Into the Classroom: Considerations for Faculty and Institutions of Higher Education in a SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic” at https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A171f8bc4-4393-4f4c-8304-e704b8c54606. You can review additional references below for more COVID-19 info.

Since early this spring, the UFE has raised concerns about the nature and extent of reopening TESC in the fall, as well as the challenges associated with remote teaching. We are especially concerned about maintaining the health and safety of students and staff while staying engaged and functioning as an institution of higher learning. We are also mindful of the ongoing emotional support and resources our students require (i.e. health care, housing, food, financial aid, employment, technology access, to name a few).

That said, as we look forward to the upcoming academic fair and fall planning, it remains clear we must have very specific planning details in place that are not just limited to generic guidelines by the state but are specific to teaching at TESC. Safety supports and prototols must in place before instruction can be considered. Faculty input is certainly a must. As you all know, these details and topics include (and are not limited to): health & hygiene practices in common spaces such as classrooms, labs, studios, rehearsal halls, restrooms; support for staff; a reconsideration of the academic calendar and possible modifications; a review of instructional challenges and team-teaching load distribution (i.e. for faculty at-risk, faculty w/children, faculty w/elderly family); a possible reduction of class size requirements; a discussion about faculty load; and lastly, what faculty and staff resources will be made available to support our collective work.

The UFE has reached out to our science colleagues for input, including Andrew Brabban, Jim Neitzel, as well as Clarissa. They have provided important insights, research studies and key points at the AC meetings. Please see Clarissa’s notes and references below). With so many issues to consider and the academic fair and fall fast approaching (with faculty about  to disperse for summer), the UFE position is that safety first is foremost before engaging to F2F/hybrid instruction. The uncertainty the pandemic brings (with no vaccine in place and limited testing available), it is difficult to imagine reopening the College for safe, equitable, in-person instruction in September. Instead, our focus includes the following two points:

First, the College must continue to focus its attention on supporting ongoing remote instructional models which begins with articulating a renewed philosophy which acknowledges that while F2F classroom instruction may not look the same, our commitment to learning, equity, sustainability, interdisciplinary instruction and community work remain our focus. Secondly, we maintain that the College must support our remote instructional needs and finance (or reimburse), the faculty’s instructional expenses beyond $50. These expenses may include remote instructional tools as: printer/scanners, printer ink, routers, monitors, white boards, electronic drawing pads/stylus, USB hubs, iPads, computers, etc. Other items specific to science and art instruction must also be financed to support the faculty’s remote working/teaching conditions.
The UFE is meeting with administration to discuss these two points and we will keep you informed of our progress. Until then, I want extend to my appreciation to all faculty and staff for the work they have completed during this difficult time. The UFE also wants to thank Clarissa, Andrew and Jim for their expertise and recommendations about the College’s COVID-19 response. The UFE looks forward to continuing our communications with all faculty and the administration as we strive to provide a safe teaching, learning and work environment for everyone.
Grace Huerta
UFE Chair  



Dr. Clarissa Dirks, science faculty member at TESC whose areas of expertise include virology and epidemiology, developed the following discussion points outlined below and also provided us with a number of references to consider .

1. Infection data and modes of transmission:

  • As far as we know, most Americans haven’t been infected and we are nowhere near herd immunity (if immunity for this virus exists as that hasn’t been shown yet)
  • There is some evidence that a larger percentage of people in dense cities like New York have been infected but we don’t know if that translates to immunity; Olympia is not a large and dense city and current testing indicates only 100+ cases, so many could still be infected
  • The curve shows the rate of infection is not flattening out in the US (see tracking data) but rather in some locations; students travel from other places to Evergreen to come to school so this is a problem
  • Reports of possible aerosolization along with asymptomatic transmission (possibly 25% of those infected) make this a unique virus and challenging to control
  • SARS-Co-V2 has a much higher lethality rate (0.5-0.8) compared to Influenza ((0.1) and if everyone in the US were to become infected it is likely millions of people would die
  • Asynchronous stay-at-home-orders mean that multiple waves could occur in different locations and be imported to Olympia with Evergreen students; this coincides with the fall cold and flu season, making it more challenging
  • A new study from China shows that limiting transmissions at schools is critical (see attached document #1)

2. Testing and Contact Tracking Issues:

  • WA currently does not have enough supplies for tests and track infections at the level that we should be tracking them; a localized surge could occur without broad testing (this will likely change by the fall)
  • WA currently does not have the tracking infrastructure for tracking contacts who test positive (this will likely change by the fall)
  • Serology tests look for antibodies of those who have been infected and have cleared the virus. Some believe we can create immunity passports through these tests but there is no evidence of immunity (see attached article #2)
  • The evidence we have for the production of neutralizing antibodies indicates varying levels of antibodies produced in different individuals so there is no guarantee that people cannot be reinfected
  • The serology tests are not very accurate right now and “A false negative may prevent an individual from returning to work; a false positive might lead to an epidemic chain.” (see attached articles #2, #3 as well as news link)

CDC reference:


News references: https://www.nytimes.com/article/antibody-test-coronavirus.html


3. Therapeutics vs a vaccine:

  • There are no FDA approved drugs against SARS-CoV-2 so many are relying on testing therapeutics designed for other viruses that may help critically ill patients suffering from COVID-19; The antiviral remdemisvir has shown to be effective but is not a drug that can be used to prevent someone from becoming ill.
  • Other antivirals that target other aspects of virus replication have not shown promising results
  • Numerous vaccines are being developed at a very fast pace, which can be dangerous.
  • The current leaders in the vaccine race are those based on mRNA and adenovirus (another virus that infects humans) platforms; the first is not a proven technology but can be manufactured rapidly and the later will take much longer to manufacture (see attached paper #4)
  • If a vaccine is developed, it may not work and/or we may need more than one of them. There are different mutations of the virus (see link below) but the good news is that this virus doesn’t mutate as fast as some others
  • There will be no vaccine for the public this fall

SARS-CoV-2 mutations: https://nextstrain.org/ncov/global

Evergreen-specific considerations:

  • The average age of the faculty puts many at risk
  • We tend to attract many older students and that puts many at risk
  • We attract students who are economically disadvantaged and with fewer health care resources
  • Immunocompromised individuals and those with predisposing conditions may not want to reveal that in an opt-out model


Tracking data: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=ee09f96136-briefing-dy-20200130&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-ee09f96136-44679001#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

Recent article about US infection rates: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-health-202/2020/04/29/the-health-202-millions-of-americans-were-infected-with-coronavirus-and-had-no-symptoms/5ea86d1288e0fa3dea9c4e94/

Modeling for virus spread, social distancing and travel to a central location such as a school (assumes immunity which may not be applicable): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxAaO2rsdIs

Possible aerosolization along with asymptomatic transmission: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/you-may-be-able-spread-coronavirus-just-breathing-new-report-finds

Social-Distancing-and-Schools.pdf: https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/1-Social-Distancing-and-Schools.pdf

National Strategy Serology: https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2-National-Strategy-Serology.pdf

SARS-CoV2 Serology Manuscript: https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/3-SARS-CoV-2_Serology_Manuscript.pdf

SARS-COV2 Vaccines Report: https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/4-SARS-CoV2-Vaccines-Report.pdf


March 30, 2020


Hola Stewards Council. The United Faculty of Evergreen and Evergreen are pleased to have collaborated on the attached memorandum of understanding https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19_TESC_UFE-MOU-V2.2-signed.pdf. This document responds to the current pandemic and its implications for our work during the spring quarter, 2020.  The agreement, signed tonight, is in effect immediately through the remainder of spring quarter, and addresses the following main topics (as well as others):

·        Course planning and student course evaluations;

·        Faculty reviews;

·        Faculty working conditions; and

·        Professional travel and development awards.

Given the current crisis, such an MOU is unprecedented. While our MOU is unique to TESC, the UFE’s response is in solidarity with our sister unions, the United Faculty of Washington State (Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University and Central Washington University).  In essence, we strive to honor the collective work of the faculty, staff and administration in support of our students. With everything moving so fast, I feel the MOU addresses some of our most urgent working condition concerns this quarter. I will keep you all informed of other concerns as we work closely with our colleagues and administration this quarter.

In solidarity,

Grace Huerta, Ph.D.

UFE Chair


COVID-19 Faculty Planning Days–March 17, 2020

Greetings UFE Members. I hope you and your loved ones are well. I wanted to write and let you know what the UFE and Provost Drake have been working on with the “Keep Teaching” team over the past few days.

First, the UFE requested from the administration a faculty release for week 1 of the spring quarter. The administration initially offered two days. Registration and financial aid expressed they needed time to support students during this crisis. Together, we were able to agree upon 3 days of release to help support faculty curriculum planning during week 1 and also support staff as they assist students during a complicated transition to the spring quarter.

Secondly, given the World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic and Governor Inslee’s state of emergency declaration, the UFE’s position has been that TESC offer remote faculty trainings exclusively. We appreciate Provost Drake and the “Keep Teaching” team support of this position. Our ongoing concerns have been that because the COVID-19 virus presents no initial symptoms, even after several days, practicing social distancing remains critical to limiting its spread. Therefore, as colleges and universities move to online teaching this spring, the UFE stresses safe working conditions for all students, staff and faculty. We maintain that any faculty and staff who do not feel safe in such face-to-face settings, that remote options be made available. We also encourage our staff colleagues to work with their unions to continue to address safe working conditions.

Lastly, the UFE understands that together we share tremendous challenges as we all balance our work duties, fatigue and personal safety during this crisis. The UFE also suggested that the remote faculty trainings be offered during spring break (in shorter segments, video-taped, etc.) which would provide staff and faculty more time to prepare, and more importantly, support the health of our larger community. The UFE expresses their appreciation of our collective efforts to maintain safe working conditions for all.

Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues.

Sincerely, Grace Huerta, UFE Chair, Jon Davies, Co-Chair, Laurie Meeker, Communications Coordinator, Gary McNeil, WEA Higher Education Organizer