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Creighton professors want to decide whether they teach online or in person this fall
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Creighton professors want to decide whether they teach online or in person this fall

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Forty-two Creighton University faculty members this week have asked the university president for the right to decide for themselves whether to teach online or in person this fall.

Creighton administrators responded Tuesday that faculty members should notify the campus human relations department, which would then work with the professor’s dean “to determine the impact” of the request. Many faculty members at Creighton and elsewhere are concerned about the risk of contracting the coronavirus by teaching in person.

The faculty letter raises questions about who will decide who may teach online and what criteria will be used.

At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a spokesman said, professors “are given the freedom to make that decision and we trust how they choose to deliver their curriculum.” However, the spokesman added that professors need the approval of the department chairman and, in some cases, the dean of the college.

At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State and the University of Iowa, professors have generally been told they can “request” alternative arrangements if they are at high risk of becoming extremely ill from COVID-19 or if someone at home is at high risk. UNL also says it will consider accommodations for those who “are uncomfortable about teaching in person during this pandemic.”

College administrators throughout the region have said students are clear about their desire to take classes in person and not online if it can be avoided.

The Creighton professors’ letter says the university cites disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act as those for which special accommodations will be made. The letter says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites many others who are at risk of severe illness, including diabetics, older adults, people with lung disease and those with weakened immune systems.

The administrators’ response says those who have concerns that are not related to the ADA should notify the human relations department by Friday.

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rick.ruggles@owh.com, 402-444-1123

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