Preparing for Thanksgiving
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
At the end of this week, we will have arrived at a major milestone of this academic semester—Thanksgiving Break! Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to ensure that our campuses are safe, our classes continue and our students persist. I am grateful for you and your commitment to Kent State. As we continue with the remainder of the semester through remote instruction and remote exams, I am writing to ask that you be mindful of a few items.
The Week of Thanksgiving
As with any official university break, students should not be required to engage in instructional activities or be assigned coursework that is due during the Thanksgiving week break (Nov. 21-29 for classes that meet Monday-Friday). Please be mindful that this break is a time for students to catch up and/or to have a respite from schoolwork.
It is important to note that during this Thanksgiving break, many of our students will be moving back into their family homes and may have additional responsibilities during the week. Some students may also have to quarantine or isolate. Please be mindful of their added stressors during this time.
Increased Synchronous Engagement
Through several of my messages to you, and in my remarks at Faculty Senate, I have asked you to increase your ‘real-time’ engagement with students. Our students want and need more interaction with you and their peers. While all instructors have the academic freedom to decide the relative degree of synchronous or asynchronous content delivery in their classes, all instructors are encouraged to provide synchronous opportunities for engagement (e.g., chatrooms, virtual face-to-face office hours) even when the course content is delivered 100% asynchronously. Please consider ways you can increase synchronous interactions with your students during these last weeks of the semester, and please plan for increased synchronous engagement for your spring classes. The Keep on Teaching website offers advice for ways to provide 'real-time' interaction in remote delivery.
As you finalize your Thanksgiving plans, please consider that the CDC just came out with new guidance recommending individuals not travel at this time. If you do travel, please know the status of any state you visit. If you travel to a state that has a testing positivity rate of 15% or higher, you are asked to quarantine for 14 days upon your return to Ohio. In addition, be sure to check the requirements of the specific state you are traveling to as some states have their own health requirements, including self-quarantining and proof of a negative test result. Please also be mindful that an increasing number of counties in Ohio (including Summit and Cuyahoga County) are providing stay-at-home advisories and are asking people not to travel unless for school, work or necessary items/emergencies.
In my message on Nov. 5, I asked you to take care of yourself, and today I repeat my earnest request. I am hopeful that, while we all use this time to catch-up on meetings and our non-instructional responsibilities, we also take some time for ourselves! Please continue to practice the Flashes Safe Seven. Please do not hold or attend gatherings that include people outside of your immediate ‘family’ of close contacts. As positive cases in our community and state continue to rise at an accelerating rate, I urge you to diligently follow safety protocols. And please care for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Check out these links for support: Step Up and Speak Out, Wellness Resource Guide, and Counseling and Psychological Services. You are incredibly important.
Thank you for all you do! Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.
Melody Tankersley, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Provost