Senate Executive Council Campus Letter

February 18, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your continued commitment to meeting this moment by fulfilling our university’s academic mission as our campus continues to navigate the complex nature of COVID-19’s impact on our lives.

Our return to in-person instruction has not been simple and we write to help provide additional information as we approach the end of Winter quarter and prepare for the Spring. Faculty colleagues have been doing their best to address requests from some students who have expressed concerns centered around their health and fears of contracting or spreading COVID-19 from time spent in a classroom, laboratory, or studio.

Academic excellence in teaching and learning is central to the Academic Senate’s responsibility for authorizing and supervising all courses of instruction and curricula, and the Senate emphasizes flexibility on all sides.

As we near the end of the Winter 2022 quarter, the Academic Senate affirms that faculty know best how their courses are to be taught or modified. Instructors should, to the best of their ability and in alignment with what makes sense in a specific course, attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for students in need during this challenging moment. No single approach will work for all, as courses are as diverse as the people designing and teaching them. Although the Academic Senate cannot prescribe a solution for each case, multiple methods can allow students who cannot attend in person to remain current with their coursework. We highlight that XCITE are partners in providing resources to help instructors identify mechanisms to apply technology to support instruction and assessment.

Examples include, but are not limited to, recording of lectures to share asynchronously with students unable to attend in person, providing lecture slides and notes, or utilizing technology like that provided in RISE roomsor presenting in-person on a laptop to the room and using Zoom/YuJa to stream or capture the projected material. Remote teaching on a temporary basis remains an option. Instructors are invited to utilize technology to accommodate students should this fit with the pedagogical structure of a given class. For some courses this may be that some class meetings are in-person and some online.  However, it is not expected that faculty must teach in hybrid/hyflex or dual modality to accommodate remote students.

As shared before, we encourage faculty, departments, and deans to leverage flexibility and creativity to continue to deliver instruction to meet the needs of students and the goals of their courses. We put forward the following considerations for meeting this challenge:

  • Providing transparent communication with students so they know what to expect in advance.
  • Acknowledging students’ investment in physical presence on our campus.
  • Acknowledging that many in our campus community have serious concerns about in-person presence.
  • Providing consistency and predictability for course instruction.
  • Communicating the instructor’s policies regarding student absences and how students can remain current in their coursework.
  • Protecting faculty autonomy and acknowledging the increased workload in accommodating absent students.

In Service,
Academic Senate Executive Council