COVID-19: Faculty Update #7

Dear Colleagues,

We have reached the end of our fourth week of online/remote instruction, work-from-home arrangements, and continued social distancing. I know that we are all tracking the news stories and the updates from politicians and health officials as we eagerly anticipate news that will provide clarity and comfort. That clarity and comfort is coming—we will get through this—and until that time I hope you are all doing well, staying safe and healthy, and relying on each other for friendship and support.

We have accomplished so much in the past month. As a team, we have adapted quickly and learned a great deal in a short amount of time. The next time we are faced with such a challenge, we will deploy our talents and passionate resolve to persevere faster, more effectively, and with the wisdom of experience and a grace that arises from overcoming.

With that in mind, I want to thank each of you, again, for your ongoing hard work and dedication. Please do not hesitate to contact any one of us in the Office of the Provost with questions or concerns, or just to check in. To echo the wonderful student-focused video that many of you contributed to, we are here for you.

To keep us looking forward, we share with you the following updates:

  • Sharing and Social Media—As noted in an earlier message, the Provost (finally!) has a Twitter feed @UHD_Provost. We invite all members of the community to share your achievements, goals, and any uplifting news with the rest of the Gator Family via the ‘Good News Gator’ form which can be found at the top of the Twitter feed. We want to push out good news to the UHD community through this Twitter feed as often as we can.
     
  • Faculty Survey—In consultation with Senate leadership, we have developed a survey for faculty regarding a range of issues related to experiences this semester, resources, and information. The survey will be distributed on April 27 and run until May 18. We look forward to collecting your insights, concerns, and ideas that can guide us in future actions. [NOTE: the survey for students will be available Monday, April 20 through May 8; questions will be shared with faculty when it opens on Monday.]
     
  • Gator C.A.R.E. Initiative— As the work of reaching out to our students continues, we recognize the efforts of our colleagues and SGA, and ask you to consider volunteering as part of the recently announced Gator C.A.R.E. initiative—COVID 19 Awareness, Response, and Encouragement. Volunteers will call an assigned list of students to check in, let them know UHD is here for them, and to ask if they are in need of any assistance. Guidance will be provided to volunteers on what to say, where to refer students when a need is identified, and how to report the completion of the call. You can sign up by filling out the Gator C.A.R.E Initiative Volunteer Sign Up form and indicate the number of students you would be willing to call. Contact Student Affairs with any question at uhdstudentaffairs@uhd.edu | 713-221-8100.
     
  • Tips for Supporting Our Students with Disabilities—We thank all of you who are working with our students with disabilities, recognizing the particular challenges they are experiencing in the online environment. Especially as we move toward final exams and projects, please keep in mind that extended time on timed quizzes and exams still apply to an online format and need to be set in BB accordingly. If you have questions about how an accommodation should be applied or if an accommodation should be applied in the virtual setting, our Office of Disability Services staff members are ready to assist at any time. They are also available for assistance with captioning/transcription for live classes held in a digital medium. We have posted on our Keep on Teaching website a very thorough Guide to Online Accessibility as well as tips on adding captioning to Zoom messages and using break-out rooms in Zoom.
     
  • BB Ally in Summer Classes—As we are planning for summer, with faculty preparing many classes fully online for the first time, we encourage you to be proactive about accessibility by developing your materials with BB Ally options in mind. We maintain our commitment to improved accessibility, starting in the summer term, with targets of all classes having an average Ally rating in the “green” and/or no items in the “red.” We are seeking a good faith effort from faculty in this commitment, recognizing that there will be exceptions and challenges yet to be resolved. We reiterate our commitment to fully engaging your questions and developing resources to support faculty, as described in our original Ally Memo.
     
  • S/U Option for Incompletes—For those students who take an incomplete in spring 2020, the S/U grade will still be an option through the incomplete period specified in policy. Also, we encourage faculty to review the specific guidelines for implementing the S/U option.
     
  • Book Orders— We ask faculty to start requesting the course materials that will be used for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 courses. In a time where COVID-19 has presented great uncertainty surrounding the way many individuals and businesses conduct their daily lives, we are asking you to please submit your course material requests by April 30 to allow for additional time in sourcing materials for the upcoming terms.Submitting your order is simple, particularly given the expanded Follett Discover tool now available with intro video https://follett.com/discover/login.cfm; log into myUHD, click on the Faculty/Staff E-Services (Left Side of the page), and click on the UHD Campus Store to launch Follett Discover. You should see the courses you are assigned to teach for the upcoming terms and can select new materials or materials from previous semesters. Given the current situation, the UHD Campus Store encourages faculty to give special consideration to digital content. The UHD Campus Store Manager, Sue Pahi, can be reached at spahi@follett.com.Special OER Note: State law requires that faculty consider whether appropriate OER/Low-cost materials are available for your classes and also that we make such information available to students. If you plan to use OER materials, please report that through the Follett Discover system so we can track it—there is an option to indicate OER. Also, if you would like to use OER materials, the Follett site allows you to search many OER resources.
     
  • ZoomBombing Report—We ask everyone to report any ZoomBombing incidents in UHD classes or meetings to Erika Harrison. Please review Best Practices for Securing Your Virtual Classroom.
     
  • Planning for Future Semesters—As we plan for the summer and fall sessions, we continue to carefully monitor the COVID-related news. At this time, we have committed to all courses that start before July 1 being fully online. However, please know that we are weighing all possible trajectories beyond that horizon and will update everyone with further information and decisions as soon as we can. Please be agile in your course development for Summer III and Fall courses in case we are required to offer courses online. Our hope is to be back to some semblance of normal operations by late summer—and certainly by fall—but the events of the past two months have made it clear that the prudent decision is to also have a Plan B in place.

All information from these update messages will also be available on the Provost’s Office website: Keep on Teaching