UNI teachers’ union supports teacher sanctioned for mask requirement | Coronavirus
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – The union representing the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday issued a letter to staff to offer support for Dr. Steve O’Kane, recently sanctioned for his mask policy in class.
Professor Steve O’Kane faces disciplinary action after telling students he would reduce their grades if they failed to meet the mask requirement in his classroom. This went against the Iowa Board of Regents which has repeatedly denied the implementation of a mask warrant at Iowa universities.
United Faculty, the union representing people working at UNI, applauded O’Kane for taking a “courageous public stand”.
“The discipline imposed is a disproportionate and needlessly disruptive display of political force that harms O’Kane’s students and their learning,” the union leadership wrote in its letter.
Read the full letter here.
O’Kane said the easy choice would have been to obey the rule, but he felt it was a moral decision to protect himself and his class from COVID-19 by forcing students to wear masks.
“As I sat there among the students for whom I am responsible, or at least I think of it that way, I should behave in a way that protects not only them, but also their friends, families and the university community. as a whole, ”O’Kane mentioned.
For the remainder of the semester, O’Kane will be teaching online. It is not known if he will return to teaching in person during the spring semester at UNI. A disciplinary letter from John Fritch, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, says O’Kane will have to comply with all university and board policies going forward. He adds that he could be subject to further disciplinary action until his dismissal.
United Faculty says they will continue to advocate for stricter COVID security measures at the university.