Good Evening Friends,
I hope that this email finds you, your family, and all those that you care about safe and in good health. The Faculty Senate Executive met today with a sub-committee of faculty and administration looking to provide guidance to all faculty as we transition to operating in a wholly online environment during a pandemic that most of us did not foresee. The following guidance has been adapted from what was given to faculty teaching in the Global Studies program. Please look over these guidelines and, where possible, employ them to help ease the burden of your student’s transition to online learning. This is especially important for those students whose resources and home circumstances do not easily support learning in this manner and for those whose circumstances may not allow for flexibility or advanced planning at present (e.g. essential workers on mandatory duty or shift extensions, military-aligned students called back to duty).
Guidance for the Academic Environment
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee recognizes that these are not ordinary times. In consultation with various faculty members and faculty leaders across campus, we produce the following recommendations and guidance for use throughout the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
- Please be flexible with how you plan to administer exams and quizzes. Proctorio may work, but it may not workwell for all populations. If you have already used this method and it didn’t go well, we strongly urge you to offer a make-up exam in a different format or to eliminate exams and choose an alternative format for students to demonstrate their knowledge.
- Please make content available for students asynchronously as much as possible. If you do offer a synchronous component, ensure that there is no penalty for not participating and record the session to make available for students that cannot join. Students have a lot on their plates now and this will increase as COVID-19 cases rise in our area. With increased caretaking of children and siblings at home, personal illness, caring for ill family member, and working long hours if they work in essential services, many families are struggling. The less we require them to sign onat certain times, the more likely it is that they will succeed.
- Please offer some available synchronous time, if you are able given your own home life changes. Consider offering office hours, using Zoom or phone/zoom meetings with students or groups of students as the need arises. Seeing your face is very reassuring to students.
- Please communicate primarily through Canvas for messages. We know they are signing on and using it, so this seems to be an effective method to reach them. And we can also track their activity level.
- Please offer them lots of small ways to earn points to help their grades at the least, and consider rethinking of the course to focus on the key learning outcomes for the remainder of the semester and how you can best provide content and students can demonstrate learning.
- Please show lots of lenience for late work.If a student needs an extension, please just have them email you about it so that you have a record of who asked for what. But as much as possible, please allow them to get the work in when they are able.
- Please don’t fail anyone right now. We know not everyone is comfortable with online learning, and it’s a safe bet that a pandemic is stressful. Try to relax your expectations of your students and yourself enough that we can all get through this successfully.
- Please prioritize your health and the health and well-being of your family. Set realistic standards for the rest of this academic term. Be as compassionate with yourself as you are with others. Get plenty of rest, eat well, stay hydrated, go outside (but stay 6 feet from others), spend time with your family, socially connect with your friends, check on your neighbors.
Jeremiah Davie, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology
Department of Biology and Mathematics
President – Faculty Senate
Buffalo, NY 14201