Fall 2020 Faculty Updates and Reminders

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We’re in the final countdown for the Fall 2020 semester. I hope that this summer you’ve had the opportunity to both catch your breath and prepare for the new ways of teaching, engaging, researching, and creating that our pandemic environment requires. I know that over 800 of you participated in the workshops that our fantastic Center for Teaching and Learning and Office of Continuing and Distance Education provided. Wow! Thank you for your dedication and commitment to excellence in teaching! And if you want support with Blackboard and Collaborate Ultra, Information Technology is ready to assist you (see calendar of events here). 

I am writing today to deliver a few updates and to provide an up-to-date summary of all of the policy modifications, recommendations, and guidelines that the Ad Hoc Academic Continuity Committee have developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the updates.

Reminders about Kent State’s COVID Response 

Last Monday Dr. Manfred van Dulmen, Chair of our Reopening Steering Committee and Interim Associate Provost, shared important information for fall semester, including what to do if you develop COVID-19 symptoms, the circumstances surrounding when you would be informed if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, and how cleaning will occur. Please review that message and the links contained within and, if you still have questions, contact coronavirus@kent.edu

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, as does the science undergirding our decisions. As such, policies, procedures and information are likely to change as we go through the fall semester. For that reason, it is important you take the personal responsibility to stay informed with the latest information by frequently visiting our Coronavirus website and the Academic Affairs COVID-19 response page and by keeping up with email notifications from the university. 

Remember if, at any time, you develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for the virus:

  • Isolate at home and call your doctor immediately to seek medical advice. Always call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Notify the Kent State COVID Response Team at 330-672-2525.
  • Contact your academic unit administrator (campus dean, school director, department chair) if you need support with your job.

In response to Governor Mike DeWine’s recent travel advisory, if you have visited a state with a reported COVID-19 positivity rate of 15% or greater, please quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus and please contact the COVID Response Team at 330-672-2525. Learn more about self-reporting requirements at the COVID Response Team webpage. If you have questions about how to work while quarantining, please contact your academic unit administrator (campus dean, department chair, school director). 

For All Faculty

Whether you have chosen to teach remotely or in-person, all faculty must be prepared to go fully remote at any time. We know that after Thanksgiving, the final weeks of the semester will be delivered remotely, but there may be times throughout the semester that you have to move to remote instruction. For example, your classroom or hallway may need to be closed for a short period of time for cleaning, or you may need to quarantine at home. At any time, the university may need to go to fully remote instruction and services, so we need to be prepared. 

Also, if you are teaching in-person, you should be ready to simultaneously deliver instruction remotely, as there may be times that some of your students will not be able to attend face-to-face. They may be required to quarantine, they may be ill, or they may be uneasy with public spaces. If for any reason, you are not ready to simultaneously deliver remote instruction while teaching in-person, please contact your academic administrator (campus dean, school director, department chair) for assistance. We will make sure you have the support you need. 

The Division of Information Technology and the Center for Teaching and Learning have created valuable information and videos to help you get familiar with both the technology and the pedagogy around teaching in person and remotely. I urge you to review this information now, and come back to it later next week, as I know more information will be forthcoming. The website is available at https://www.kent.edu/keeponteaching

How do I Teach In Person text with instructor icon How do I Teach a Remote Course text with computer icon    

Several faculty members have asked about whether they have to record their instruction and make it available for students. It is your decision whether to record, and if so, when and how long to make the recording available for students. Several faculty members have also asked about whether to make the use of cameras a requirement for students during synchronous remote instruction. The Center for Teaching and Learning has provided some considerations for you as you make the decision on whether to require cameras and they are available here

The Ad Hoc Academic Continuity Committee (ACC) has provided guidelines for syllabus content to address the impact of COVID-19 on instruction. The ACC recommends that all instructors include language in their syllabi which clarifies student and instructor expectations concerning the impact of COVID-19 on the instructional process. The guidelines and sample language on various topics that instructors may want to adopt, with or without revisions, and include on their syllabus can be found here. This guidance addresses the potential impact of COVID-19 on students and instructors and provides communication solutions to manage potential disruptions to instruction. 

While we are discussing syllabi, please note that the office of Student Accessibility Services has modified the SAS Syllabus Statement in response to student feedback. Please use the revised statement on your syllabus as provided below (and can be found here). 

Kent State University is committed to inclusive and accessible education experiences for all students. University Policy 3342-3-01.3 requires that students with disabilities be provided reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access to course content. Students with disabilities are encouraged to connect with Student Accessibility Services as early as possible to establish accommodations. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers based on a disability (including mental health, chronic medical conditions, or injuries), please let me know immediately. 

For Courses Delivered Fully Remotely or in a Hybrid Fashion

As you prepare for your remote- or hybrid-delivery courses, please connect with your students now to let them know your expectations for synchronous instruction—instruction that occurs with all students remotely present at the same time—if you choose to deliver instruction synchronously. To address scheduling conflicts for your students, any synchronous instruction you choose to deliver must occur during the times posted for the course.
 
If you would like to reserve a classroom to deliver your remote instruction and/or prepare recorded instruction, please contact your departmental, school, or campus scheduler. Your scheduler can request an available space for you from the Academic Scheduling Center. 

For Courses Delivered Fully In-Person or in a Hybrid Fashion

The ACC has created a valuable checklist for instructors teaching in-person. The checklist serves as a reminder of helpful actions for you to consider before the semester begins, before each course meeting, and throughout the semester. You can find this checklist here

Most classrooms have already been outfitted with the technology needed for delivering remote instruction (IT will have all finalized by the time classes begin). Please feel free to visit a classroom now so that you can be ready for your first day of classes!

For each instructor teaching in-person, we have created teaching Go Bags for you to take with you to the classroom. The kits will have items such as your own dry erase markers, dry erase erasers, cleaning supplies, and disposable facial coverings for students who may have forgotten theirs. Our goal is to make sure you have an easy way to gather what you need as you head to your classroom. The Go Bags will be available in your deans’ offices for instructors teaching in-person.

When you arrive in your classroom, you will see a sign that shows maximum occupancy, accounting for six-foot distancing. Please make sure your enrollment (plus you!) aligns with that number. You will also notice that furniture has been arranged in a way that accounts for distancing, or is marked in a way that shows which seats can be occupied and which cannot. Please do not move furniture for any reason and do not allow students to sit in seats that have been marked for no use so that we keep everyone safe. 

And speaking of safety, all students must wear facial coverings in class. If you see a student out of compliance with the Flashes Safe Seven principles related to physical distancing and face coverings, you should follow the steps below, which are consistent with the University’s Administrative Policy and Procedures Regarding Classroom Disruptions

i. The instructor should ask the student(s) for compliance and offer guidance on how to comply.
ii. If the behavior continues, the instructor should ask the student(s) to leave the classroom or other instructional area.
iii. If this does not resolve the situation, the instructor should dismiss the class for the day.
iv. The instructor should document the incident and notify the applicable academic unit administrator (e.g., chair, director, college dean) or regional campus dean, as needed, in the event of non-compliance.

We are certainly in our final countdown to a different way of beginning a new academic year. But I know we’ve got this! Our faculty leadership team has been working relentlessly to have everything in place for you. And below you will find a summary of all the modifications, recommendations, and guidelines they have worked on to make sure we’re set. 

Summary of Policy Modifications, Recommendations and Guidelines Concerning Support for Faculty and Instructors in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has created and continues to perpetuate unprecedented challenges for faculty members at Kent State University and around the world.  Under the guiding principles of (i) being reasonable, flexible and equitable in all actions and decisions; and (ii) being strategic in all actions and decisions, the Ad Hoc Academic Continuity Committee (ACC) has recommended various measures which are intended to assist faculty members in navigating these extraordinarily difficult times.  Through the ACC and its subcommittees and direct messages to the faculty from the Interim Provost, these policy modifications, recommendations, guidelines and agreements focus on instructor responsibilities and they are specifically tailored to provide guidance to faculty and academic administrators as we continue creating our new normal with COVID-19 at Kent State.  

The ACC and the Interim Provost encourage instructors to discuss workload issues with their academic unit administrator and attempt to resolve any challenges that they are facing before contacting other offices that may be of assistance (e.g., dean’s office, AAUP-KSU, Faculty Senate, student ombuds).  All instructors are strongly encouraged to review the documents below for information on issues related to their professional responsibilities.  Some of these documents apply to all instructors, including part-time faculty and graduate assistants, while others are specifically focused on tenured, tenure-track and full-time non-tenure track faculty members.  

All Instructors

Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Members

Full-time Non-tenure Track Faculty Members

I am so very grateful for all you’ve done, all you’re doing, and all you will do! This pandemic has thrown challenges our way, but by working together and adhering to our core value of kindness and respect in all we do, we have a plan that not only will keep us safe and allow our high level of instruction, research, and creation to continue, but will with do so while caring for one another. Flashes do indeed take care of Flashes!

All my best,

Melody Tankersley
Interim Senior Vice President and Provost
Kent State University

POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 7:11pm
UPDATED: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 8:51pm