VIDEO: Faculty & Staff Town Hall

Questions about vaccine incentives, study abroad and the campus environment are among those asked and answered during the Town Hall

Editor’s note: On Tuesday, Aug. 17, UND held a Town Hall meeting via Zoom for faculty and staff. A video of the Town Hall (with closed captions available) is above, while below is a list of the questions that are asked and answered in the video, with time stamps for readers’ reference accompanying each question.

Please note that in the days since the Town Hall took place, UND implemented a mask requirement for indoor public spaces. That new guidance is the University’s latest, and it takes precedence over any of the answers to mask-related questions that are offered in the video.  

The following questions are asked and answered in the Faculty & Staff Town Hall:

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04:17 – What kind of plans are being made to vaccinate our students before the start of classes?

05:38 – Updated CDC guidance recommends mask usage where COVID transmission is growing. Given the increasing COVID activity in our region, what thresholds are needed to be met to require masks inside all UND campus buildings, including classrooms, this fall?

09:35 – Many college campuses, employers, states and local communities are providing incentives for vaccination. Why is UND not providing incentives for students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated?

11:56 – Are unvaccinated students required to quarantine after a COVID exposure? Will we be doing contact tracing? And what type of accommodations are we expected to provide for students who miss class due to quarantine?

15:29 – What would be the criteria for returning to virtual instruction, should that be necessary?

16:57 – Faculty and instructors have the authority to require masks in their classrooms. Last year, students generally were very respectful of mask mandates, but now we’re in a different time and different political climate.

With that in mind, how does the University suggest that an individual instructor enforce a mask mandate?

21:51 – We were informed that UND has a policy that prohibits faculty from asking about students’ vaccination status. Is that the case? Are we able to ask about vaccinations?

23:36 – If some offices require masks while others do not, it makes UND look disconnected within itself, and not One UND. What is your recommendation with that?

25:04 – If a student refuses to leave a space that has a mask requirement, whom should the office call for support?

25:30 – How about if a staff member or an individual visiting the University refuses to wear a mask after being asked to do so?

27:22 – How can you call a raise that’s given to everyone a “merit raise”? What’s the difference between a merit raise and a straight, across-the-board raise?

29:53 – Multiple federal courts have upheld vaccine mandates at other public universities, and we know vaccines are a key part of COVID mitigation. So, why doesn’t UND have a vaccine mandate for all members of our community? And second, will the COVID vaccines be added to the list of required vaccines once they receive full FDA approval?

31:06 – If a faculty member wants to have a raffle in his or her classroom – one that awards, say, extra credit points or prizes if students voluntarily show their vaccination card – is he or she allowed to do that?

32:20 – Do faculty have any legal liability if they require masks in their classrooms, given that the University delegates this decision to the faculty in their individual classrooms?

34:04 – If a classroom does not have masks or is out of masks, who should that faculty member or instructor reach out to?

36:06 – If a student is registered for an on-campus, face-to-face class, is the expectation that the student will be in class, or are faculty expected to make accommodations for those students who are not fully comfortable being back in class?

37:28 – Many people are hopeful that UND will bring back its women’s hockey program. Please share your thoughts about this, including when and if it might happen.

39:55 – Is it appropriate for an advisor to suggest that students who wish to complete their course remotely due to COVID concerns contact their course instructors on campus to request the accommodation?

40:45 – To President Armacost: in a recent email, you noted that supervisors are allowed to require masks within their areas. Does that rule make it harder for employees in the area to believe they’re being heard? Also, what if people decide not to wear masks, since it’s strongly encouraged (campuswide) but not required?

42:21 – How should faculty handle the situation if students are not following classroom mask rules?

43:21 – What precautions are in place to help keep faculty and staffs safe, especially for those who work in open cubicles and shared offices?

44:48 – How can UND ensure that all members of our community – regardless of race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, and including our transgender students, faculty and staff – feel welcome and a sense of belonging within our university community?

47:16 – Will UND allow study abroad programs to operate this academic year?

48:57 – What is being done to address the University’s shortage of custodial staff?

50:00 – Could the University give some clear answers on the return-to-work process, especially regarding how the process works and how decisions are made?

55:03 – What should employees do if they have young children or other individuals in their home who become ill with COVID or another ailment? Do they take leave, and if so, what happens if they run out of leave?

57:22 – We’ve had several questions regarding the political climate on campus, whether it has to do with masks or otherwise. President Armacost, would you like to address that question?