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300+ UGA faculty sign letter calling in-person classes 'unwise'

The letter asserts that 'regardless of the precautions taken by the University on campus... a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 is inevitable.'

ATHENS, Ga. — More than 300 UGA faculty signed a letter published in the student newspaper on Thursday calling in-person classes "unwise."

The Red & Black guest column asserted that "regardless of the precautions taken by the University on campus ... a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 is inevitable."

The column cites the recent experiences at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame, which have all recently suspended in-person instruction.

It also points to Georgia's reported highest-in-the-nation rate of new COVID cases. (Though the most recent CDC data indicate Georgia has fallen below Texas and Mississippi in the past couple days.)

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"When state universities have attempted to resume in-person instruction, in states with lower COVID-19 transmission rates than Georgia, outbreaks have occurred," it states.

The letter says simulations run by Dr. John Drake, the director of UGA's Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, "indicate that hundreds of students will arrive on campus who are actively infectious."

The letter says those simulations suggest precautionary measures will be wholly ineffective, as regardless of what is or is not done, "the virus will spread to tens of thousands of UGA students, staff, and faculty within two months or less of the reopening."

"In short, the resumption of in-person instruction at UGA as planned is unwise and misaligned with evidence-based COVID-19 health guidelines," the letter's authors write.

Calling for the suspension of in-person classes, they write: "A great university does not follow; it leads. And when the safety of its own, and those around it, are threatened, a great university learns from the mistakes of others and carves a new and better path based on science and truth."