Immunocompromised student speaks out against course delivery policy Sunday, Jan 16 2022 

By Madelin Shelton — 

A psychology graduate student at U of L wants flexibility in the university’s course delivery policy and her message has gone viral.

Madison Shannon was hospitalized from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15 with complications from an open-heart surgery she underwent Dec. 17.

Shannon posted an email correspondence with U of L Interim President Lori Gonzalez to her Instagram and Facebook pages, and she said it has been shared over 200 times and has received more than 1,900 likes.

She discussed her experience post-surgery. “It was a very scary experience, and it was overwhelming as well. I was delirious,” she said. Shannon thought she was going to die from the complications.

Shannon describes herself as medically complex. She was born with aortic stenosis, a congenital heart defect which results in reduced or blocked blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. She also has Turner syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that affects only females in which one of the X chromosomes is missing or partially missing. Shannon has had three open-heart surgeries.

On Jan. 9, Shannon sent an email to Gonzalez in response to a U of L update reiterating the university’s decision to continue the Spring semester in-person.

Shannon’s email criticized the university’s decision regarding its course delivery policy. “The way that the university has handle the COVID situation has been completely disappointing and inaccessible. I understand being concerned about academic performance and mental well-being of students, but some of the students, faculty, and staff are concerned about our livelihood,” she said.

“I am so sorry to hear about you health issue. I wish you a quick recovery. Take care,” Gonzalez responded.

Shannon was deeply disappointed by Gonzalez’s response. “It felt like ‘okay that’s your problem, that’s not a problem as a university.’ Whereas I feel like it is a university problem. A lot of people expect young 20-year-olds and teenagers to be relatively healthy but that’s not always the case and, you know, I’m the perfect example of that,” she said. “I feel like we’re not being seen as people, we’re not being seen at all honestly.”

In defending the course delivery policy, the university has cited the 91 percent vaccination rate of the U of L community, but Shannon argues that is not enough.

She is fully vaccinated, but not boosted because of the issues it could pose for her currently weakened immune system. Her doctors are also concerned about the toll COVID-19 would have on her body even with being fully vaccinated, especially three weeks post-op from major surgery.

Shannon acknowledged that mental health and academic performance are important considerations, but she believes there are more crucial factors to consider. “Those are important, but it doesn’t just affect everyone that little. It affects people in much bigger ways, like my livelihood. I would prefer to live.”

Shannon has received permission to conduct her classes virtually until February given her current health situation and the need for a mandated quarantine period post-hospital stay. However, to her understanding she is expected to attend class in-person after that point.

Shannon belongs to the United Campus Workers, a group composed of campus workers from across Kentucky. Along with United Campus Workers, Shannon is asking for the option of online instruction for both faculty and students and more stringent COVID-19 prevention strategies. The organization created a petition for these initiatives that has amassed over 1,500 signatures.

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to the university for further comment and none was given.

Photo Courtesy // Madison Shannon

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Louisville doctor goes viral with tweet advising against drinking urine to treat COVID Friday, Jan 14 2022 

When he saw a report going around the internet that wasn't true, Dr. Jon Klein, a kidney doctor, couldn't resist responding.

        

Kentucky organ donor organization marks record-breaking year Friday, Jan 14 2022 

Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates said it saw 75% more donors in 2021 compared to 2017, with more than 1,000 donors helping others.

        

What’s the best face mask for protection in public or work amid COVID, omicron surge Thursday, Jan 13 2022 

Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage from the Louisville Metro Department of Health said omicron is a more transmissible variant, so it's best to wear a higher-quality mask.

        

Dean Owen indicates no change in course delivery policy Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 


By Madelin Shelton — 

College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean David Owen responded to the uproar from faculty over the university’s policy of mandated in-person courses and reaffirmed the university’s stance.

After U of L Interim President Lori Gonzalez sent out an announcement to the entire university community informing them that the semester would be conducted as originally planned for both in-person and virtual courses, Owen sent out a reminder on Jan. 7 to A&S faculty reminding them to conduct courses how they were described in the Schedule of Courses.

A&S faculty began voicing their frustrations to the dean in an email chain over the weekend.

Owen sent a note to A&S department chairs on Sunday, Jan. 9. “I told them it was their responsibility to make sure these courses were taught as they were advertised,” Owen said. He said he expected faculty to abide by university policy, and failure to follow said policy could result in accountability, including disciplinary action.

Some of the deans and faculty viewed this as Owen threatening the faculty with punishment if they failed to teach the courses through their original method. He acknowledged that some individuals perceived this note as a threat, but Owen claims he was simply referring to the expectation that faculty abide by university policy.

Faculty complained the policy is inflexible for individuals who are, for example, vaccinated themselves but have young children at home who are unable to get one. When asked about this type of specific circumstance, Owen referenced U of L’s ability to maintain face-to-face courses throughout the pandemic the last year by implementing health protocols like masking and social distancing. He also mentioned the university’s vaccination rate of over 90 percent.

“Nothing has changed really in this occurrence,” he said. “You know, it’s a particular spike of a new variant but we’ve dealt with spikes in variants before while remaining on campus.”

He continued, “If faculty or staff have particular health concerns, whether it’s with their own health or health of family members in their household, whether they’re children or parents that might be living with them or somebody who’s immunocompromised, we have a family medical leave policy that can account for that. Folks have applied for that in those circumstances.” Faculty are not permitted to teach, even virtually, should they choose a family medical leave option.

Owen said the university crafts policy that prioritizes equity and accounts for all faculty, staff and students. However, some individuals have criticized this policy as detracting from equity. Dr. Tracy K’Meyer, a Professor of History at U of L, spoke on this point.

“In the dean’s note, he referenced treating everybody equitably. Part of it is that’s kind of a misuse of the term equitably. Equity doesn’t mean treating everybody the same, it means treating people based on their own circumstances.”

More than just faculty have spoken out against the university’s policy. A petition opposing it sponsored by the U of L chapter of United Campus Workers has over 1,500 signatures from faculty, staff, students and other community members.

The U of L chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the College of A&S Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee have released statements in opposition to the policy.

Owen did clarify that faculty were never given the autonomy throughout the pandemic to teach courses in a way that diverged from the chosen method listed in the original Schedule of Courses, unless they were exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 and temporarily needed to move instruction online. During periods when all courses were taught virtually due to the pandemic, it was a university-wide policy.

When asked if the university planned on changing its policy in response to the significant pushback it has received, Owen said “My understanding is there is no intention to change the policy at the university level and that is what I will follow.” However, he did mention that President Gonzalez and her team were constantly monitoring the ever-evolving circumstances of the pandemic and could change policy when deemed necessary.

Photo Courtesy // University of Louisville

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Louisville hospitals face record-breaking admissions, blame rise in COVID-19 cases Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 

Doctors say if you aren't vaccinated or boosted, the time is now to roll up your sleeve.

        

No, the FDA has not approved medical marijuana for any illness Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 

Researchers say there isn't enough scientific evidence yet to approve the drug for any illness, but clinical trials are on-going.

        

‘Our future is now’ | Beshear announces additional priorities of his budget proposal Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 

Beshear said his proposal is a necessary investment to ensure Kentucky stays on top following a record-breaking year.

        

Why winter coats and car seats don’t mix Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 

Bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should never be worn underneath the harness of a car seat.

        

Some N95 Masks Now Available To Students Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 

By Anthony Riley–

As of Jan. 11 Tuesday afternoon, some N95 masks have been available to students across campus. The Cardinal was able to find N95 masks in supply at the BAB and at the welcome desk of the SAC, with students receiving packages of two N95 masks per person. Some places across campus remain without N95 masks, however, such as the Cultural Center and the Ekstrom library.

Photos by Anthony Riley//The Louisville Cardinal

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