COVID-19: Reminders that Might be Useful

March 31, 2020



This message was originally sent on March 11, 2020. It is being published here for preservation.

I want to thank you again for working to ensure minimal disruption to our academic programming while protecting the health and wellbeing of our campus community.

As you know, we have made the decision to provide on-campus classes remotely. Your leadership during this period will be critical, and I will need you to be the point people for addressing details regarding implementation within your college and department. By Friday if not earlier, we will share more information on resources that faculty can consult as they prepare for next week. For now, though, I ask you to do the following:

  • Reinforce to faculty the obligation we have to our students in terms of maintaining continuity of their learning experiences
  • Remind faculty that they should be thoughtful in considering attendance requirements, and not penalize any student for non-attendance of classes on Wednesday, March 11, after the announcement regarding students being potentially exposed to the individual who tested ‘presumptive positive’ for COVID19.
  • Remind faculty to contact their students right away to: 1) establish a communications plan and 2) to inquire about accessibility issues.
    • Communications: All faculty should establish a communications plan with their students, letting them know when they will be available, how quickly they will respond, and in what form they will respond.
    • Accessibility: This includes both their students’ ability to access the necessary technologies (computer, internet access, etc.), but also any disability issues that come into play in the online format.
  • Give faculty basic guidelines about how to make curricular decisions regarding their courses. This may be particularly important for laboratory and hands-on experiential courses, which might require more creative solutions. Let us empower our faculty to use the tools and technologies that they believe will make their student’s learning successful, and make any adjustments that they believe are necessary for optimal learning. For instance, faculty will need to decide whether they going to hold synchronous or asynchronous courses. As you know,
    • Synchronous courses are ones that all students attend at the same time, and this would mostly likely happen via zoom.  These courses should be held during the normal course time.
    • Asynchonous courses are not held at a specific time with all students in attendance.  Faculty make the necessary materials available for students to complete at their convenience.
  • Remind faculty that they may need to reevaluate their assessment practices. Previously-scheduled quizzes and exams may need to be postponed or modified. There are ways to continue with these assessments in the online format, but faculty should decide if this is essential, or if alternative strategies are sufficient.
  • A couple of interesting reads on moving to an online modality

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Going-Online-in-a-Hurry-What/248207?cid=wcontentgrid_hp_9

https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/03/11/practical-advice-instructors-faced-abrupt-move-online-teaching-opinion

https://hbsp.harvard.edu/inspiring-minds/how-to-quickly-adapt-to-teaching-online

  • Some faculty will be nervous about how this will affect their teaching evaluations for the semester. It is important to remind them that this is new territory for everyone and that this disruption to their course will be noted by their supervisor.
  • Remind faculty that they need to maintain their own health and wellbeing during this stressful time. It is very important to understand that we may not be able to do everything we would have accomplished in person next week. Working overtime to deliver a perfect experience for students may not be the best strategy for the next few days– instead of trying to learn a host of new technologies in a short period of time, we are better served by taking the time to decide how courses and expectations need to shift in order to meet students’ needs.

Some other items to note:

Campus Facilities

  • The University Libraries are equipped to provide information resources and services to faculty, student, and staff remotely, via the web site and Zoom. See the Libraries’ Remote Resources Guide for more information. Changes to library hours or services will be posted on the Libraries’ website and to social media.
  • The Veterinary health center will remain open as a service to the community.
  • MU Health Care will of course remain open to serve the community – their website offers information that is timely, and useful.

Foreign Travel

Student Issues

  • Advising – Advisors are working to offer ‘remote’ advising students.
  • Events – To reiterate the Chancellor’s message on events, if it is not essential, cancellation is the wise option.  Department chairs should consult their deans on these decisions.
  • Experiential learning/practicum/clinical rotations/student teaching in lab schools, CPS – Deans are best equipped to make continuation/cancellation decisions in consultation with the organizations hosting the experience. Department chairs should consult their Deans for the same.
  • Mental health – We recently introduced our campus to Sanvello, a free app that helps users manage stress, anxiety, and depression. All MU students have access to the premium version of the app and can sign up with their Missouri.edu email

In case you accidentally deleted prior emails we sent, all communications related to COVID19 are captured on the website https://mualert.missouri.edu/coronavirus/

Today I sent emails to faculty who were instructors for the courses in which the 25 students who participated in the conference at New Orleans, were enrolled.  The responses were immediate and to a person the emails I received spoke to the care, concern and thoughtful communications that these faculty members were engaged in, all with the goal of ensuring student well-being.  It reminded me that student wellbeing is an integral part of Mizzou’s institutional culture.

Deans, and Department Chairs, you make this happen and you are a big reason our students choose Mizzou.  I sincerely appreciate the leadership you have shown as we deal with this challenging situation. Continue to reach out to me or members of my team as specific questions or ideas emerge.

Thank you for all you do for Mizzou.

 

Latha Ramchand, PhD

Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs