Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
What a difference a week can make. In the new reality of the novel Coronavirus outbreak, we are having to make decisions and respond to evolving developments at an extraordinarily fast pace — something we are unaccustomed to in the academy.
But, indeed, that is what is required of us in these unprecedented circumstances.
On Tuesday, when WVU made its decision to move classes online beginning March 30, we were among the first to do so. By today, almost every university in the country has made the same decision. And this may be just the beginning.
As a reminder, classroom instruction is suspended the week of March 23-27, with classes resuming online on March 30.
To ensure you are ready for the virtual teaching environment, we strongly encourage you to avail yourself of the resources of the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons. Online training sessions started today and will continue through March 27. A schedule of these sessions is available on their website and is being updated daily. If you need in-person support, there will be limited walk-in consultations.
As you prepare for this transition, be realistic about what can be accomplished and don’t expect perfection. It takes significant time and effort to plan, create and assess distance education courses. This is a luxury we don’t have at this point. As a further challenge, the University’s bandwidth for online delivery is limited. With all of that in mind, the goal should be to build a valuable short-term experience for your students.
We urge you to reach out to your students now — not for instruction but to offer them reassurance. Many students are anxious about what to expect, so it is important that you communicate information about your courses and how you will be engaging with them.
Please remember to treat your students with extra care, compassion and patience. Help them cope with the uncertainty. We all want to know what is happening next, but in this situation, we must learn to live with ambiguity. The students will look to you for assurance and leadership. At the same time, we urge you to stay healthy and engage in self-care, while modeling such behavior for your students.
Our hope continues to be that we will bring students back to campus when the virus poses less of a threat, but we all need to be prepared for the situation to change at a moment’s notice.
We are asking a lot of you, and we know how hard you are working to adapt to this situation and putting our students first. We believe in you and your resiliency and greatly appreciate the added time and energy this will require.
With the announcement of K-12 schools closing, we recognize that faculty and instructors with children at home will need to make additional accommodations. Please know that the telecommuting and flexible working guidelines that were announced Friday afternoon will apply to all WVU employees.
Please keep watching for email updates and frequently check the WVU Coronavirus website. If you have concerns, first communicate with your chair or supervisor. You also can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are both here as well and can be reached by email.
WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
WVU Faculty Senate Chair