Faculty Union President Weighs-In on COD’s Handling of the Pandemic

With the 2nd year of the pandemic approaching, David Goldberg gives his thoughts on COD’s latest COVID-19 protocols.


Bee Bishop, Staff Writer

Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly two years ago, there’s been a lot of things that have changed the education system, particularly at the collegiate level. With the latest edition of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order 87, COD implemented a policy that individuals who come to campus for in-person classes or club activities must either submit proof of full vaccination or submit a weekly-taken negative COVID-19 test. David Goldberg, a political science professor and faculty union president here at COD, sat down and answered a few questions about his thoughts on the latest policies.

Q: What changes have you seen in students during the pandemic?

It is clear to me and many of my colleagues that a large number of students are struggling in terms of the remote environment. We look at how many students are completing the class, turning in assignments, and engaging. And I think a lot of the faculty is struggling as well. And we’re trying to figure out some ways to  address that. It is a very serious situation that gets more and more difficult as the semesters roll on. I think students are facing an unprecedented level of obstacles to being successful in school.


Q: Do you think your teaching has changed at all during the pandemic?

I think a lot of faculty have tried to be very flexible and help students, and that can mean a lot of things. That can mean extending deadlines and being more flexible on due dates. It can also mean listening to students and talking to them on Zoom outside of class or on the phone to address the concerns students have. I think from our perspective, a lot of faculty find that the more I extend an assignment or try really hard to help that student be successful, it also makes our lives more stressful because that’s more work that we have to do at a different time of the semester. It’s more that we sort of have to keep up on. I think faculty are trying really hard to be flexible and accommodate students, but that comes as a sort of psychological toll for us as well. 


Q: How do you think COD has handled the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
I think it could have been handled better. There are times where it’s been handled well, and then there are other times where I feel that the development of the policy and the implementation of the policy leaves a lot to be desired. 


Q: In what ways do you think COD could have performed better?

I think some of this could have been faster, and different stakeholders could have been involved. Frankly, there is kind of a top-down decision-making model. And there may be some areas where that works for them, but when it comes to faculty that are at risk for COVID and students who are dealing with a whole host of challenges, it’s not so effective. So being told at the last minute there’s a huge shift in policy isn’t helpful and just adds stress for faculty and for students by extension. 


Q: Do you feel that faculty and staff have had a say in the policy-making process?

There are certainly some people who are soliciting input, but at times soliciting input is not the same as having a seat at the table. It’s more of ‘what do you think?’ and the decision has already been made. There are exceptions to that, where our input has been valued, but more often than not that’s the exception to the rule. 


Q: Do you think COD has put you in an uncomfortable position in regards to the COVID protocols?



Q: (In regards to previous question) In what ways? 

Other schools have done this differently, in that it’s not solely the responsibility of the faculty at the classroom door to tell students ‘no.’ There are other ways it could be done; the front of the building or in the parking lot. Those require more work on the part of the school as a whole. I think that my concern is, in addition to teaching the students in our already challenged environment, on top of that we’re dealing with health and safety protocols that, at our level, are difficult to enforce and potentially challenge our relationship with students. 


Q: Has there been any point that you felt COD has overstepped in making the COVID-19 protocols?

I think their application of the governor’s executive order in general is well done. In terms of complying with the letter of the law, coming from Springfield, I think they’ve done a pretty good job. In terms of overstepping, I don’t see this as an issue where student, faculty and community members’ freedoms are at risk because of the nature of the pandemic. I don’t think people’s freedoms are at risk here. People can take online classes if they don’t want to abide by the testing protocol. I listen to co-workers talking about their reservation, but I’m not that sympathetic to the idea that this is the heavy hand of government imposing on us. The goal is to minimize the disease and to keep people as safe and healthy as possible.

Goldberg has worked at COD for 17 years and is the president of the Full-Time Faculty Association.