Provost Special Communication

March 11, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Given the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota and the suspension of in-person classes by some universities around the country, I wanted to provide an update on efforts related to maintaining instructional operations at South Dakota State University.

At this time, classes are scheduled to resume as planned on March 16.  This is a rapidly changing situation and university officials continue monitoring via regular updates and guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South Dakota Department of Health, and local health professionals.

Each of our academic colleges has formed an academic continuity team.  The academic continuity teams are evaluating situations, considering scenarios and planning for the possible disruption of our semester if in-person classes and activities are suspended due to COVID-19.  In conjunction with this work, all faculty should begin preparing now for the possibility that our university may suspend in-person classes before the end of the semester.  As you begin preparing, please keep in mind that not every option will work for every situation and that some experiential learning courses, such as labs and clinics, may not easily be accommodated.

During a disruption, faculty will communicate with students utilizing university issued email addresses and D2L to inform of alternative lectures, digital resources, instructions, assignments, and exams. Faculty will clearly state expectations and outline all alternative plans for the course on D2L so students understand expectations. Faculty and students should also increase their availability by email during the disruption to maintain communication, and faculty should communicate opportunities for virtual office hours.

An academic continuity planning page has been created on InsideState with links to a variety of relevant informational items.  Faculty should review this page (it will be updated regularly) including the Instructional Technologies for your Emergency Teaching link as well as the coronavirus updates page on the public website.  If you do not regularly teach online, you should review your on-campus courses to identify modifications that will need to be made to move online and seek assistance from the SDSU Instructional Design Services team.

In general, all faculty should:

·        Be prepared to deliver classes through D2L on short notice

·        Identify faculty partners and perhaps form teams to deliver online courses

·        Consider that new strategies to assess student learning may be necessary in an online course

I also want to notify you that I will be reaching out to Faculty Senate to seek their endorsement of a temporary attendance policy during this COVID-19 situation.  The attendance policy will state that students who are sick or who are engaging in self-quarantine, should not attend class, will not be required to provide formal documentation from a health care provider, and will not be penalized for absences.  Students shall notify instructors in advance of the absence if possible and keep up with coursework as able to do so.  Students must work with instructors to reschedule exams, labs, and other academic activities.

Finally, I request that all of you be attentive to your own health as well as the health of other members of the SDSU community.  Please stay home when you are ill and take care of yourself.

Dennis Hedge

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs