Academic Continuity and the Return to In-Person Instruction on February 14
Sent: January 28, 2022
From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Spring 2022 is officially underway! I hope this email finds you well and safe. Thanks to everyone for temporarily pivoting from face-to-face to remote teaching following Interim President Perez’s announcement about delaying in-person instruction. I know everyone continues to feel incredibly stretched both on and off campus, as we wait for the latest COVID-19 surge around Omicron to dissipate. I hope this is the last major wave, but we have all learned that our realities can still change week-to-week.
That all said, I am excited to report that nearly 300 faculty have enrolled in Purposeful Pivoting for Academic Continuity, an asynchronous course organized by the Office for Faculty Success team. It’s not too late to register; faculty who complete the course by February 13 will receive a $500 stipend. The course offers valuable tools that will have many uses beyond the pandemic–for example, during wildfire season when campus must close due to poor air quality. In the face of any number of emergencies now and in the future, we need all the tools at our disposal to continue supporting the academic growth of our students. There is no doubt that we need a larger discussion on our long-term academic continuity plans.
I am looking forward to February 14, the date that all classes scheduled to meet in person will resume their assigned mode of instruction. It will be great to see more students and colleagues on campus, and to feel the energy we collectively generate through our impactful work.
Anticipating the questions that will arise around teaching and learning in this ongoing pandemic, we have prepared the FAQs below. Please know that there are many resources available not only to the students but also to you as we engage in the work ahead of us. These include Teach Anywhere, Instructional Design Consultants, and the Employment Accommodations Resource Center.
I also stand alongside you during this time and remain committed to providing the resources you need to be successful in your work. Please let me or my team know if you have any questions or feedback you would like to share.
All the best,
One of my students contacted me. They are worried about attending class in person. Do I need to accommodate them by making my in-person class available remotely all semester?
No. Students should expect to attend the class in the posted course mode (in person, hybrid, online, etc.). Instructors will not be asked to grant alternative arrangements to ensure consistency of instruction and alignment with course catalogs.
Students with verified disabilities who have COVD-19 related needs must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC). The AEC will determine and prescribe reasonable and appropriate accommodations on a case-by-case basis. For more information or questions, please email email@example.com.
A majority of my students prefer my in-person class to switch to online. Can I do that?
No. Courses should stay in their original course mode.
A student in my class says they have experienced a close exposure or are experiencing symptoms or they have to stay home to care for an ill child. How do I handle this?
This should be treated like any other short-term illness. Be as accommodating as you can, within reason. You may record your lectures for them but are not required to do so. If they miss a major event like an exam, you may arrange a make-up exam. If you need to update your syllabus to make your make-up policies more clear, please do so. If you want assistance with that, please reach out to the Center for Faculty Development.
If a student is experiencing long-term COVID-19 needs and must miss more than a few course meetings covered by the 10 days of quarantine, please refer them to the AEC. The AEC will determine and prescribe reasonable and appropriate accommodations on a case-by-case basis. For more information or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if one of my students is out for a long time?
It would be good for them to talk to an advisor. A late withdrawal may be in order. If it’s late in the semester (<20% of work remaining), you could consider giving them an “Incomplete.”
Again, remember to refer them to the AEC, who will determine if accommodations can help them remain in the class and, if so, prescribe reasonable and appropriate accommodations on a case-by-case basis. For more information or questions, please contact email@example.com.
What if I am experiencing symptoms, even if I’m pretty sure it’s not COVID-19? How should I handle class?
Play it safe and stay home until you get tested. Talk to your department chair about arrangements for your class, which could range from moving the class online for a short period to getting a substitute to canceling class for a day. Please do not feel that you have to teach remotely, though, if you are experiencing a serious illness. If you are asymptomatic, however, and can continue to offer your course, a temporary shift to an online modality is appropriate with the approval of your chair, who will need to inform the dean of the temporary change.
It would be helpful to get home tests before you feel ill that you can take in case you have a minor symptom. You can get four free at-home COVID-19 tests at COVIDtests.gov.
What if I get sick and need to be out for a while?
Talk to your department chair about arrangements. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, report it to the university. You should also contact Yazmin Perez from University Personnel (firstname.lastname@example.org) for guidance on the appropriate COVID protocols to follow and leave options available to you, as needed.