The College will open for residential face-to-face instruction that affords students the opportunity to be actively engaged in the instructional process either on-campus face-to-face, remote on-campus, or remote off-campus as personal and public health concerns dictate. Some classes may be offered in remote format only.
Meeting of the Faculty via Zoom
July 8, 2020; 9:00 a.m.
Good morning. Thanks for making the time to attend this meeting. I will make some remarks and then will take questions that you may submit via the chat function that is being monitored.
Additionally, my remarks will be posted on the website later today for those of you who want to refer to them in the future.
SMCM is a student-centered college and that is one of the things that makes us unique and the student experience so powerful. The student-faculty relationships are essential and vitally important to the success of our model and our mission. Faculty engagement is foundational to what we do and how well we do it. You are valued and we understand that your safety is at stake. This is a scary time for all of us. Safety is what we care about as you return to campus and teach.
The expectation is that, to the extent possible, faculty will return to the campus because it is a vital component in the student experience at SMCM. Of course, if there are mitigating circumstances, there are policies being developed that allow individuals to make the determination that they cannot return to campus because they are at risk or that if they return to campus, they will put members of their family at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. I will go through those in a moment. The point is that you will have choices but you will not have as many choices as you want in making the determination of whether you teach face-to-face during the fall 2020 semester or whether you teach remotely.
In the pandemic environment, the ultimate question is how do you preserve as much normalcy as possible while keeping the community safe (the number one priority)?
Here are just a few of the things the College has done/is developing to keep the campus community safe:
- Every faculty, student, and staff member will be required to take an online training module about the virus and what to do to mitigate viral spread before being allowed to return to campus
- When you return to campus, kits will be distributed to every faculty, student, and staff member containing sufficient masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to get through to the end of the semester and there is the expectation of daily monitoring for symptoms – and there are policies for compliance and consequences for trying to be a free spirit
- Heightened cleaning and sanitation protocols per federal standards
- Reconfiguring classrooms, residence halls, common areas, dining facilities
All of the measures that will be in place before students arrive are fully compliant with federal and state policies and guidelines and, when appropriate, have been directly developed in consultation with local public health authorities. We are focused on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on campus and keeping the community as safe as we possibly can.
What if you are still uncomfortable with being on campus? We have policies for that situation that have been developed with the state’s attorney general’s office that are compliant with federal guidelines, yet afford us some flexibility. The draft Return to Work policy was developed weeks ago by the Workforce and Policy subcommittee and it will be posted on the website next week. It reads, in part:
- Managers must allow for the continuation of remote work when an employee (1) can perform the essential functions of the position remotely; and (2) satisfies one or more of the following conditions:
- The employee is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (“High Risk”) because:
- They are 65 years of age or older; or
- They have a serious underlying medical condition (e.g., chronic lung disease, a serious heart condition, an immunocompromising condition, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, liver disease). Employees seeking to work remotely due to a serious underlying medical condition must submit their request to the Office of Human Resources. Employees are not required or expected to disclose their personal medical conditions to their managers.
- The employee has lost childcare coverage as a result of COVID-19 (e.g., due to a school or daycare closure or other temporary loss of childcare). Employees are expected to investigate reasonable alternative childcare options when they lose such coverage.
- The employee co-habits with or serves as a primary caregiver for a high-risk individual.
- The employee is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (“High Risk”) because:
- Employees who do not meet the criteria above may still be permitted to work remotely, subject to the individual discretion of the provost’s office (faculty). In making such decisions, managers or chairs/coordinators should partner and consult with the Office of Human Resources or the Office of the Provost. Again, flexibility is strongly encouraged in the current environment.
- Staff and student employees who do not meet the criteria above and have not otherwise been permitted to work remotely, but who still wish not to return to campus, may elect to use accrued personal floating holidays or vacation to cover their time off. Such requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and may or may not be approved. …. Faculty who do not wish to return to campus must consult with the provost to discuss leave.
Choices. If you satisfy the criteria to continue with remote work, you may teach your courses remotely for the semester. A challenge that surfaced last week was that there were several faculty members who decided that they would teach one course face-to-face and the other one or two courses remotely. This is not a choice that you have. What you have is an all or none situation. If you believe that you or your family is at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 if you return, in spite of all of the safety measures the College has implemented, and you satisfy the criteria in the Return to Work policy, then you may teach all of your courses remotely. Whether or not you teach remotely must be based on need, not preference. Your presence is vital to the success of our students because we are a student-centered institution. However, your safety is a priority to us and we will work with you to accommodate your needs.
Students value their engagement with you. If you are teaching your courses face-to-face, will you be mandated to perform all of your faculty responsibilities face-to-face? No, but we are certain that the students would appreciate it if you decide to hold an office hour every now and then face-to-face, following all public health guidelines for social distancing, face coverings, and hygiene. But, you can choose to do all office hours, advising, etc. virtually. Safety is our priority and we must identify ways that provide some flexibility in fulfilling our mission but the number of choices each of us has will be limited.
I feel as if the entire world is in the process of building the runway while the aircraft is trying to take off. There are many details of a myriad of things that are still under development. An example is testing. The CDC has not recommended that everyone be tested before being allowed back on campus. The state has not mandated it but there are some who believe that it should be done and are indicating they will mandate it. We don’t know where this will end up so we are putting into place things to make sure that if the governor mandates a testing requirement we will be ready because it is important that we do what we can to keep our community safe.
SMCM is in flux. The entire country is in flux. This flux leads to confusion as to what’s in play at any particular time. There will be mistakes made. The problem is not in making a mistake. The problem is recognizing a mistake has been made and not going back to correct it. As a community we must be understanding of the humanity of it all. The number of hours the task force members, subcommittee members, EC, and members of the board have spent asking hard questions and seeking answers, reading public health and scientific reports, consulting with experts, conferring with higher ed institutes is beyond measure. It is because we care about you; we care about our community at large. Every day some guidelines change and we are working to keep up and make the necessary adjustments. Our goal is to reopen as a residential campus in a manner that keeps our campus community as safe as possible. We believe that the hybrid mode of instruction does just that as it gives every member of the community a set of choices in a manner that allows the College to meet its higher education mission which encompasses excellence, access, and affordability for a diverse population of students. Understand that few things during a pandemic are etched in stone. Know that if the public health situation in our region changes significantly, the measures we have put into place and/or are developing will allow us to quickly pivot in a manner that keeps our community as safe as we can while fulfilling our mission as a student-focused college.
This is a time when the country, not just SMCM, needs unity and support for one another. This is going to be a tough semester for all of us. As adults, we have developed coping skills that our students do not have. How can we support them to the best of our ability during this period of instability and uncertainty in a manner that keeps us safe?
We welcome your ideas and comments to that end. We will continue to reach out to you as we navigate the disruptions we will all experience in the near future. We have a few minutes left and I am happy to address questions.
Tuajuanda C. Jordan
Fall 2020 Academic Calendar
Guidelines for Teaching & Learning during the 2020-2021 Academic Year
Updated: June 25, 2020
- Regularly scheduled fall classes will begin on August 17, 2020 and conclude on November 20, 2020.
- No classes will be held on September 7 (Labor Day) and October 20 (Advising Day).
- Final exams will be taken remotely between November 30, 2020 and December 4, 2020.
- Grades will be due by noon on December 10, 2020.
Regular Course Format
- Most courses will be available through face-to-face and synchronous remote instruction. Some classes may be offered in a remote format only.
- Face-to-face and remote students will participate in class sessions using Zoom or some other remote meeting technology.
- Students may elect to attend class sessions either face-to-face or remotely according to their own learning and personal safety preferences.
- To the extent practical, students who normally attend class face-to-face and elect to attend a class session remotely are expected to inform the instructor 24-hours prior to the class session. Likewise, to the extent practical, faculty teaching a class session remotely, that normally meets face-to-face, will inform the students 24-hours prior to the class session.
- Physical classroom capacities will be set based on The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance.
- When necessary to comply with CDC guidelines, residential students will rotate between face-to-face and synchronous remote instruction according to a schedule established by the course instructor.
Laboratory/Studio/Performance Course Format
- Laboratory, studio, and performance courses will be available through face-to-face and remote instruction where possible.
- Students may be required to attend remote class sessions with mandatory physical attendance for other students (e.g., laboratory courses may require work in teams so that at least one member of the team attends the laboratory session face-to-face and the other team members attend remotely).
Class Period Lengths
- To ensure appropriate social distancing in hallways, class sessions will occasionally start a few minutes later than regularly scheduled and/or end a few minutes earlier than regularly scheduled to ease crowding in hallways.
- The Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculty will determine the altered start/stop times based on building capacities and will make every effort to communicate the specifics prior to the start of the semester.
- Physical classrooms will be assigned by the Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculty, in consultation with instructors, to best match COVID-19 room capacities with enrollment.
- Course-to-classroom assignments will be shared with students and faculty prior to the start of the term.
- Specialized classroom facilities (i.e., film rooms, dance studios, etc.) will be preferentially assigned to courses that regularly require use of the specialized facilities.
Faculty/Student Collaborative Scholarly/Creative Activity (Outside Classes)
- Out-of-class faculty/student collaborative scholarly/creative activity that requires physical interactions (i.e., laboratories, studios, etc.) will be permitted but no student will be required to participate during the 2020-2021 academic year. Students for whom such a requirement is a condition of graduation will be given alternative learning experiences or will have the requirement waived.
- Faculty will develop written protocols for the use of shared faculty/student collaborative spaces that adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines to the extent practicable. Such protocols will include…
- scheduling of shared facilities to reduce the number of individuals present in the facility at one time;
- cleaning of shared equipment and materials between uses;
- use of protective gloves and face masks.
- Students must sign a written waiver to participate in faculty/student collaborative scholarly/creative activity that cannot adhere to CDC recommendations due to the nature of the work to be conducted.
- The “P/D/F” grading option first introduced during the 2020 Spring semester will be available during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Shared Learning Spaces
- In consultation with instructors, furniture will be limited or partitioned off to ensure appropriate social distance between learning stations and between those stations and the teaching station.
- Instructors will be able to rearrange furniture to meet pedagogical needs as long as appropriate social distancing is maintained.
- Learning spaces will receive a “deep cleaning” twice per day according to a schedule developed by the Director of Facilities.
- Learning spaces will be equipped with hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
- Students will be required to wipe down their individual learning station prior to and after use.
- Faculty will be required to wipe down their teaching station prior to and after use.
- All College-affiliated international programs (study abroad, study tours, etc.) are cancelled for the 2020 Fall semester and the subsequent winter break. International programs for the 2021 Spring semester and subsequent summer break are still under consideration and may be cancelled.
- Domestic experiential learning opportunities (field trips, internships, etc.) will be permitted but no student will be required to participate during the 2020-2021 academic year. Students for whom such a requirement is a condition of graduation will be given alternative learning experiences or will have the requirement waived.
- Faculty will ensure that remote partner locations have protocols in place that adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines to the extent practicable.
- Faculty conducting domestic experiential learning opportunities will develop written protocols for the travel to/from the experiential location that adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines to the extent practicable. Such protocols should include…
- cleaning of shared vehicles, equipment, and materials between uses;
- use of protective gloves and face masks while in transit.
- Students must sign a written waiver to participate in domestic experiential learning opportunities that cannot adhere to CDC recommendations due to the nature of the experience or for which remote partner locations are not compliant with CDC recommendations.
- Events that are central to the College’s academic mission will ensure that audiences, when allowed, adhere to appropriate social distancing guidelines.
- Event spaces will receive a “deep cleaning” in between uses.
- Student physical attendance at such events will not be required. Programs for which such events are a requirement will provide students with a means for remote attendance.
- Student participation in such events will adhere to the guidelines under Laboratory/Studio/Performance Courses Format. Student participation in off-campus events will adhere to the guidelines under Experiential Learning.
- Face-to-face advising sessions will adhere to appropriate social distancing guidelines.
- Students will be provided with a remote advising option.
- To the extent practicable, the College will provide faculty and students with access to technology, including high-speed Internet, sufficient to engage in learning experiences.
Class Attendance Policies
- Faculty will modify class attendance policies to allow for ad hoc or term-long remote attendance consistent with the guidelines provided herein.
- Faculty will conduct office hours in such a manner as to be compliant with appropriate social distancing guidelines including any time in which students are waiting in line to see the faculty member.
- Faculty will provide remote access to office hour support.
- Faculty offices will be equipped with hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
- Student work will be submitted and returned using remote technology.
- Class handouts will be distributed using remote technology.
- Students will comply with appropriate social distancing guidelines when entering or exiting classrooms.
- Class sessions that involve a remote faculty member will have an assigned “technology teaching assistant” to facilitate face-to-face classroom management. Funding for such teaching assistants will be provided by the Office of the Provost & Dean of Faculty. Alternatively, instructors, at their discretion, may provide classroom assistant credit for such teaching assistants.
- Remote examinations will be proctored or recorded to ensure integrity.
- Class waiting lists will be maintained by individual instructors or departments and will be reported centrally to the Office of the Provost & Dean of Faculty.