GWU Faculty Demands Protection From COVID-19

Must Aid All At "Higher Risk of Getting Very Sick" From Virus
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* George Washington University

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* Washington - District of Columbia - US

WASHINGTON - May 20, 2020 - PRLog -- The Faculty Senate of the George Washington University just unanimous passed a resolution demanding that the University provide "appropriate protection for those who the University has reported are at 'a higher risk of getting very sick,'" especially regarding any decision to return to any form of classroom instruction this coming year, says GWU law professor John Banzhaf.

The resolution responded to growing concerns that forcing professors to return to face-to-face instruction in a classroom, as GWU recently promised before later backing down - even with promises of testing, mandatory mask wearing, and attempts at requiring students to maintain social distancing - would inevitably expose professors to a very high risk of infection by a deadly virus which is highly contagious, says Banzhaf, who helped draft the resolution.

Of special concern are professors who are older and/or have a variety of conditions which make them especially vulnerable and at much higher risk of death from the virus.

The University itself had previously warned on its COVID website that "early information indicates some individuals are at a higher risk of getting very sick from this virus. This includes: Older adults [AND] people who have serious chronic medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and lung disease."

Banzhaf also pointed out that persons who are particularly at risk from the virus are entitled, by law, to special and additional protections, citing: The Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA], the D.C. Human Rights Act [DCHRA], and the Occupational Safety and Health [OSH] act.

He noted that professors might also seek to take advantage - perhaps with the help of a sympathetic doctor - of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and/or its D.C. counterpart, and the U.S. Family First Coronavirus Response Act.

He also pointed out that President Trump, who is as eager as anyone to see universities open as quickly as possible, nevertheless recognized the need to protect professors who are older or in poor health.

Teachers who are especially high risk of death from exposure to the coronavirus in a classroom could be allowed to continue teaching on-line, be permitted to take sabbaticals if they are otherwise eligible but did not request it before the pandemic hit, or be offered furloughs.

In the latter situation, the Faculty also demanded "that in the event that cuts must be made, the university continues its contributions to health insurance in full in order that all employees can remain protected with their health insurance coverage" @profbanzhaf

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