Provost's Briefing - March 12, 2020

Effective Operations

Institutional Priority #4

Institutional Effectiveness

Good afternoon, everyone:

Today’s update contains information about:

  • Social Distancing
  • Alternative Instructional Delivery
  • Faculty Evaluations
  • Travel Reminders
  • Final Comments

As I mentioned in my note yesterday, the Provost’s Office plans to send periodic updates around issues and details focused on Academic and Student Affairs.  I apologize if there is some overlap with President Smith’s notes to campus, but we want to assure people receive information as quickly as possible so it is useful. 

SOCIAL DISTANCING

The university’s decisions to suspend in-person campus course instruction and limit campus operations are strategies designed primarily to limit exposure to and spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  They are intended to promote individual and community health.  While no one has been forced to leave residence halls or barred from campus, it is vital to public health that group gatherings and social interactions be kept as limited in frequency, scope and duration as possible.  Yesterday, Governor Whitmer’s Office stated:

Community mitigation strategies are designed to be implemented at the individual, organizational, and community levels. They apply to businesses, workplaces, schools, community organizations, health care institutions, and individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and health profiles; everyone has an important role to play. These strategies provide essential protections to individuals at risk of severe illness and to health care and other critical infrastructure workforces.”

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has excellent resources on its Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public website. Here you’ll find a discussion of “social distancing,” which is to maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) further advises that people over age 60 and people with chronic medical conditions — the two groups considered most vulnerable to severe pneumonia from COVID-19 — should “avoid crowds as much as possible.”

 

In light of this guidance, we strongly urge that you avoid scheduling in-person interactions on campus whenever possible.  We advise you personally to avoid groups, especially in less ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation or if there are people in the crowd who are sick.  While you may not be particularly vulnerable, you may pass along the virus to others who are.  We understand there may be critical or time sensitive reasons to come to campus, but ask that you seek ways to interact alternatively online or electronically. 

As a reminder, if you come to campus, for brief periods of time, expect to find buildings (except those referenced specifically as open) to be locked.  You will need to have swipe access to enter buildings or make arrangements to get that from the building administrator.  We are asking building administrators to work with the appropriate unit supervisors or deans within their units to communicate how individuals should seek that access if they don’t already have it.  Please check email and the EMU website before coming to campus, and please notify DPS of your presence on campus.

ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DELIVERY

As I indicated in my message yesterday, all University in-person course meetings are suspended through March 31st.  Student attendance on campus may not be mandated without the consultation of your Department Head and the express approval of a College Dean or the Provost.  Please communicate with students regularly so that they are aware of the requirements for each course section. In addition to the communication tools available in Canvas, you can also easily email students through the “Faculty” tab in my.emich.edu.

We have now created course shells in Canvas for all winter course sections.  If you did not already have course shells for each course section you teach, they have been created for your use and you should have received an email from the Center for E-Learning detailing next steps for accessing them.  Students have also received this announcement.  The mobile app has not updated yet but will in the near future.

Instructors may elect (based on pedagogical preference, disciplinary limitations or other reasons) to modify course assignments and delivery without using Canvas.  This may be done in a variety of ways, including the sharing of materials/assignments via email, video chats, group interactions online via Skype, or other means.  If instructors elect to move outside of the canvas course shell environment they are expected to use University systems whenever possible, require no additional expense to students, respect FERPA, HIPAA, ADA and other regulatory guidelines around student data privacy while operating remotely.

Information about protecting student privacy during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is available from the U.S. Department of Education here.

The Division of Information Technology has additional information about other online resources available here.  These include an enhanced Google Suite of options such as Google Hangouts Meet, Hangouts Chat, and Google Drive that support document sharing, chats, and video conferencing.  We hope to launch additional video conferencing options shortly and will share details promptly.  This page also contains links to Google’s online training materials for the suite.

Canvas Training Opportunities

We have special training sessions called Teaching Continuity Quick Start for instructors who have never used Canvas.  All classes are held online.  Upcoming sessions include:

  • Canvas Quick Start: Thu (3/12) 1-2pm, Fri (3/13) 1-2pm, Mon (3/16) 3-4pm, Wed (3/18) 2-3pm, Thu (3/19) 1-2pm
  • Moving Your Course Online: Fri (3/13) 10-11am, Mon (3/16) 1-2pm, Tue (3/17) 10-11am, Wed (3/18) 4-5pm
  • Gradebook and Grading: Thu (3/19) 3-4pm
  • Webinar Tools & Adobe Connect: Thu (3/12) 3-4pm

Click here to register online.  Look for updates soon on additional training titles and dates.  Thank you to Peggy Liggit and Bill Jones for their efforts to organize these and to all presenters for their contributions.

Instructor Support

  • For Canvas tech questions call the Canvas Help Desk Instructor Line at (833) 277-2150.  They are available 24/7.
  • For instructional design support the best way to reach us is by email. Our staff monitors [email protected]Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm, and Saturdays until noon.

Where Students Go for Help

  • They’re in your Canvas course but are having tech problems: The student should call the Canvas 24/7 Help Desk at 326.6322.
  • They’re in Canvas but can’t see your course: The student should submit a support request at https://tiny.emich.edu/canvasaccess.
  • They can’t even log it to Canvas: The student should call the EMU IT help desk at(734) 487-2120.
Library Support

For questions regarding library resources in Canvas course shells, contact Online Learning Librarian Bill Marino at [email protected] or (734) 487-2514.

Student Support

If any student needs accommodations to participate fully in the alternative delivery of their course, instructors should immediately refer the student to the Disability Resource Center and they will work to make arrangements between the student and instructor to make this possible.

FACULTY EVALUATIONS

In lieu of campus mail, Faculty who have completed full evaluations for reappointment or tenure will receive formal notification letters with the Provost’s recommendation via their official emich.edu address on Monday, March 16.  Hardcopies will NOT be delivered to campus offices at this time.

Full-time Lecturers who are eligible for reappointment or who are scheduled for a full evaluation next academic year will receive formal notification letters via email to their official emich.edu address on or before April 1. Hardcopies will NOT be delivered to campus offices at this time.

TRAVEL REMINDERS

  • All University-related travel to international destinations is now suspended. This is an update from our previous announcement that we were only suspending travel to countries with Level 3 and 4 level advisories.
  • All non-essential University travel to domestic locations is also suspended. 
  • Any request for “essential” travel approval will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Office of the Provost.  Supervisors should review all currently approved future travel plans for compliance with this guidance and modify accordingly.
  • To request an exception, print, complete, sign, and scan the Essential Travel Request Form to the Office of the Provost. Exception requests must have an explanation for how the travel is essential to University business continuity or central job functions, and how social distancing strategies will be observed. 
  • We continue to strongly recommend and encourage caution about your personal travel choices, especially for international travel.  The public health situation worldwide is highly fluid as is government policy around travel restrictions. 

FINAL COMMENTS

We continue to monitor and evaluate guidance provided from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Washtenaw County Health Department and other local, state and federal agencies along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other professional organizations.  I want to thank faculty, staff and administrators who have provided (and continue to provide) advice, templates and other feedback as we move through this process.  The process of modifying courses, taking courses online and working remotely is by no means final or without unanswered questions still today.  But we will provide ongoing updates to the campus on a variety of issues and answer questions as expeditiously as we can.  Please continue to direct student questions and concerns that you cannot address to the Dean of Students and other questions to the Provost’s Office.  Your patience, proactive, creative problem-solving and student focused thinking is greatly appreciated!

Please continue to observe public health advice around social distancing, regular hand washing and self-monitoring, and other issues.  Should you, any member of your staff, or any students you interact with experience Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (cough, fever greater than 100.4, shortness of breath), please contact your health professional immediately by phone for guidance and notify the Dean of Students as soon as possible thereafter.

Our most current, up to date information, and past campus updates are available at the Eastern Michigan University Health Services website.