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Provost Communication to Campus 3-20-20

March 20, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we approach the date of our transition to online instruction on March 23, I want to thank you for everything that you are doing to prepare.  I know it is a lot of work at a stressful time.  Your response has been terrific and it is appreciated!

With our transition to this new reality of online teaching and meetings, I want to provide the following guidance.

General Expectations

The transition of courses from face-to-face to online instruction in a short time period is certainly not ideal and can be stressful for students, faculty and staff.  Although we will rely on technology to deliver instruction, we all must remember that the support and care that we provide for our students is likely the most important thing that we will do in the next few days.  It is critical that we exercise patience and remain flexible.  As we begin this process, many students are still working to gather textbooks and other materials.  SDSU is surveying students to identify their challenges related to computer and internet access.  As students reply, we are working to contact them and resolve their challenges.

Communication is vital to success.  Every faculty member should communicate their plans to students prior to classes resuming on March 23.  Also, please update your syllabus as needed and make them available as instruction resumes.  It should be noted that the spring semester will end as scheduled.

As you work on this transition, focus on the upcoming two weeks and the basics of academic continuity in your courses.  Your courses may be taught in a synchronous (live) or asynchronous (anytime) manner.  If a synchronous approach is used, classes are to be held at the day and time scheduled for the face-to-face class.

Many helpful resources are available on the Academic Continuity page on InsideState.  In addition, the recent communication to SDSU students with general guidance and information on how to access student support resources is at that site.  If you have not already done so, please review the wealth of information on the Academic Continuity site.

Office Hours

Office hours should be held virtually.  Virtual office hours may be conducted via tools such as ZOOM.  You may also simply tell students that on your office hour days, you will answer incoming emails from them during your office hours immediately.

Student Illness and Doctor’s Notes

Students should not be expected to provide an official excuse via doctor’s note during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Students should 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.

Academic Accommodations

Faculty will continue to comply with academic accommodations authorized by the Office of Disability Services.  Accommodations may need to be adjusted or adapted for remote access.  Contact the Office of Disability Services with questions.

Teaching Evaluations

I am aware that faculty are concerned about how this change in course delivery from face-to-face to online may alter course and instructor evaluation results.  Faculty are asked to document the challenges you encounter and how you have worked to find solutions.  Although student evaluations of teaching will occur this semester as planned, we will note this significant change as part of our historical record.

Impact on Tenure-Track Faculty

I understand that a tenure-track faculty member’s scholarly and creative productivity might be slowed if the impact of COVID-19 is extended.  The Office of Academic Affairs will provide further guidance if this situation continues.

These are truly unprecedented times.  Without a doubt, we will experience our stumbles and frustrations as we make this transition.  With that said, I am sure that we will rise to the occasion and find ways to support the academic success of our students.  As we do this work, remember that our top priority is the health and safety of our university community.  Please take care of yourself and those around you.

Our office will continue to update you with information as best we can.  Please reach out to us at SDSU.Office.AcademicAffairs@sdstate.edu with suggestions, questions, and concerns.

Stay well,

Dennis