Students – Stay well: Following Guidelines Around Coronavirus

Dear Colleagues:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness is a rapidly changing situation, and may present various challenges to our community. Our primary concern must be the health and safety of our students, postdocs, staff and faculty. We are committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for everyone.

Please continue to follow health, wellness and prevention guidelines provided by the University, updated regularly with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. If you believe you are sick, for your benefit and the health of your colleagues, I urge you to stay home. If you have traveled recently in a country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Notice, self-isolate for 14 days and get medical attention immediately for any possible symptoms.

Preparing to support students who cannot be present in class is an important aspect of inclusive teaching. The University is asking that faculty members accommodate students who stay home while sick. This effort includes relaxing documentation requirements and grade penalties for students missing class.

Last week, the CDC urged schools to begin preparations for dismissals, closures and online instruction. The associate deans and I have begun the College’s planning process by establishing action teams meeting regularly, and now we need your help. I am asking each faculty member to prepare for the possibility of an extended campus shutdown. Although this outcome is not a given, in anticipation of that significant disruption, I urge you to take the following actions right away:

  1. Identify the steps you would need to take to finish your courses exclusively online this semester. If you are teaching this term, in the spring, or in the summer, decide your necessary actions.
  2. Determine how you will fairly assign course grades for this term if you or any of your students are unable to complete the semester.
  3. Assess how you would help graduate students who are scheduled to complete their programs this term, this spring, or this summer.
  4. Begin thinking about critical facilities, equipment, personnel, and activities that may require monitoring during a lab shutdown. Expect a more detailed follow-up email with instructions from Steve Ceccio (ADR) soon.
  5. Consider any other primary concerns of students and postdocs, or other priority issues resulting from your inability to access your classrooms, labs or offices.

We have a variety of tools, including those in this online College resource, to support your planning:

  • All College classrooms have lecture recording capabilities. CAEN Executive Director Dan Maletta will meet with departmental IT leads next week to assess technology needs.
  • Nexus, the College’s home for online education, has prepared a set of FAQs and tips about teaching online, and offers access to faculty and staff members who have decades of experience teaching online. You can talk through the best options for a particular course, or investigate available technologies.
  • Google has made Hangouts Meet and Google Classroom free during this period of COVID-19 disruptions. 

Further communication will follow as circumstances and plans evolve. Please share any questions, concerns or ideas by clicking here. The coronavirus environment changes often. Please check the university’s Key Issues page for the latest information.    If it appears the coronavirus will prevent normal operations this fall, we will plan accordingly and will need you to consider additional contingencies.    We are a global community, and I realize that COVID-19 may be affecting many of your loved ones and friends. I recognize the difficulties and stresses this situation creates for everyone. We are all facing uncertainty. We will be best able to navigate through this period if we are diligent in making plans now. Thank you for your collaboration and leadership in ensuring our ability to fulfill our obligations and protect our community. And as always, never forget that as a community, we are guided by our values…

  • Leadership and excellence
  • Creativity, innovation and daring
  • Diversity, equity and social impact
  • Collegiality and collaboration
  • Transparency and trustworthiness

Take care,