COVID-19: Faculty Update #12

Dear Colleagues,

Before we get to our reminders and updates, I’d like to start by extending my very best wishes to two individuals who will be leaving UHD over the course of the next week to start new adventures at other institutions: Dr. Faiza Khoja, Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. DoVeanna Fulton, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

For many years, Dr. Khoja and Dr. Fulton have provided leadership and vision at UHD.  Their work has transformed our institution in countless ways, and they will be missed here at UHD.  I have truly enjoyed working with each of them over the past eighteen months, and I am certain that they will both thrive in their new roles.  Both Dr. Khoja and Dr. Fulton are experienced administrators with vision and drive, and their new institutions are lucky to have them joining the team.  Under the leadership of Dean Fulton, CHSS has supported the UHD mission through the work of three new centers (CCRS, Latino Studies, Plain English Research and Study), advanced student research and travel experiences, engaged community partners to expand programming, and reorganized the college to offer balanced infrastructure and disciplinary alignment.  Under the leadership of SAVP Khoja, the Office of the Provost has built productive partnerships with other institutions, shepherded development and approval processes for cutting edge graduate and undergraduate programs, led successful reaccreditation processes and maintained procedures to ensure future compliance, and established priorities for retention and graduation strategies in consultation with widespread constituencies.

I do hope that the entire campus community will join me in wishing them both the very best in their new roles.  Faiza and DoVeanna…you will be missed!  Please stay in touch, and on behalf of all of your colleagues here at UHD, we wish you continued success as you take on these new opportunities. 

Now, for a few updates:

  • Summer Campus Reopening Status:  As indicated in recent communications, the safe return-to-work timeline and other safety considerations are being reviewed by the COVID Response Task Force; updated plans will be shared as soon as they are available.  In the meantime, faculty and staff can still access campus via the Police Station, following safety protocols for social distancing and use of face masks.
  • Consistency in Synchronous Meeting Times:  As you are planning your testing and future summer course structures, please remember that required synchronous meetings should occur only during times that are posted in the official UHD course schedule and/or were communicated clearly at the outset of the class on your syllabus.  If you need students to have additional synchronous meetings with you or others to enhance success, please consider some flexible options for your students. Also, it may be helpful to remind them of the expectations from the schedule as you start Summer III courses so that they don’t mistake it for an asynchronous course—synchronous online classes still show up as “online”—students must then check to see whether there are posted meeting times and, if so, they are expected to attend during those times.
  • Limitations of Respondus and Student Access:  As noted in earlier communications, Respondus is a great product for testing, but it requires specific technologies which our students may or may not have access to, especially given that campus is closed.  Please review Test Security and Use of Respondus Document for considerations about using Respondus, particularly this summer.
  • Travel Information: Most business travel is suspended through the end of the current fiscal year (through August 31st).  International/cruise travel continues to require self-reporting and 14-day self-quarantine, though (as of right now) personal domestic travel no longer requires self-reporting or 14-day self-quarantine, regardless of where the employee/student traveled.  This is subject to change as pandemic conditions evolve.
  • New BB Shell:  Thanks to the Online Task Force and Faculty Senate, you will see a new default menu in your Fall 2020 BB Shells.  As indicated in an Office of the Provost Memo, the goal is to provide an improved BB experience for both faculty and students.  Faculty retain full autonomy to make changes to the shell as best serves their courses.

Fall Planning Details 

We have appreciated the tremendous efforts of our deans and chairs and faculty to communicate in recent days about how to redesign the fall schedule to maximize opportunities for faculty to have input on their teaching plans and to provide our students a set of options that can keep them on track with needed courses.  Please see the recent Fall 2020 Courses & Campus Update that went out to all faculty, staff, and students. Below we offer a few more specifics:

  • Fall Academic Planning Details: Our vision for fall remains driven by our intent to offer as broad a range of services and options as possible while prioritizing the health and safety of all members of the UHD community.  Right now, we anticipate that the fall will feature predominantly online classes, complemented by a variety of modified face-to-face options when pedagogically necessary or when student success measures indicate that some kind of modified face-to-face/hybrid/online-interactive option would be beneficial to students.  To this end, the departments across the campus are working to rebuild the fall schedule with the new array of modalities.  In order to allow time for students and faculty to make needed adjustments, we plan to have the bulk of the schedule completely revised by July 13.  Because the schedule is live, the changes will be visible on a rolling basis between June 29 and July 6 (as departments change the modalities)—but after that, the room assignments will be in flux until July 13.  Please do not consider your classrooms finalized until a message is sent out from the Registrar to faculty.
  • Fully Online after Thanksgiving:  All classes at UHD will move to a fully online format after Thanksgiving break; however, the semester timeline is not changing—finals and classes will take place after the Thanksgiving break as per the academic calendar.  Faculty with synchronous classes should clarify in the syllabus whether the post-Thanksgiving period will be synchronous (following already established meeting times) or shift to asynchronous.
  • Fall Final Exams:  Given the plans to move all classes online after Thanksgiving, we are still working on strategies for final exams in terms of technology options, on-campus possibilities, and timing to minimize overlap for students with multiple classes.  More will be shared in coming weeks.
  • Face Masks:  As per the draft Face-Mask Guidelines policy, shared with faculty and staff on June 19, all community members, including students, will be required to wear face masks unless exceptions are approved via appropriate offices (ESO for employees, Dean of Students for students). To maximize ADA compliance, faculty will likely be asked to wear face shields (provided by UHD) instead of cloth face coverings and/or will have a teaching environment with appropriate Plexiglas barriers while delivering face-to-face instruction.  More details about faculty face shield expectations/availability will be forthcoming.
  • Social Distancing:  UHD will require 6-foot social distancing in all classroom spaces—we are working with emergency management and facilities to mark seating and identify capacities that are being used in the design of the course schedule.
  • Online Interactive:  To maximize pedagogical options for students and faculty, UHD has set aside some of the CARES act, part II funds to equip a selected number of classrooms as “Online Interactive” rooms.  This allows students to attend either in person or via Zoom—the set-up should allow students in both modalities to interact with each other and with the instructor.  As with any new technology, faculty teaching in these rooms may need some training, which we will coordinate with the TTLC as needed.  We also plan to hire some assistants to have in the classrooms to support the use of the technology during the classes.

Additional conversations are in the works on syllabus language for various COVID-related issues and virtual environment protocols, faculty and student resources for success in the virtual environment, and specific cleaning protocols for classrooms.

All information from these updates is available on the Keep On Teaching website.