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FAMU graduate assistants demand remote learning for Spring 2021 semester

Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 19:22:22-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida A&M University graduate assistants said Thursday that it's too soon for the university to resume in-person classes next spring, adding being required to do so makes them fear for their safety.

In a letter addressed to students, faculty, and staff earlier this month, FAMU President Larry Robinson explained the university will begin the Spring 2021 semester with an extra week of remote learning, but then add more in-person classes after Jan. 19.

"This additional week of remote classes is designed to give the University more time to test members of the campus community for COVID-19 and help reduce the potential for community spread of the virus," Robinson said.

Members of Graduate Assistants United said they're not ready to make that move.

"In the fall of 2020 I was very comfortable whilst teaching because there was no physical interaction with students, said Peggy Aurthur, a FAMU graduate assistant. "With the reopening of the campus in spring 2021, I feel very insecure teaching in-person because of the fear of being infected during COVID. I am confident that I would not give off my best during this period because of the anxiety."

GAU is demanding the university resume remote learning the entire spring semester and implement stronger safety protocols to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.

If not met immediately, the group plans to continue pursuing their goals by involving community leaders and creating a petition showing support from other professors and students.

University officials declined to comment on camera, but say they found that 42 percent of students surveyed indicated they would register for in-person classes if offered.