Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
Congratulations on making it through the first week of the new school year! As I walked around campus this week, I was pleased to see students in classrooms and common areas, wearing masks and following our safety protocols. I saw teachers fully engaged with their students and students eager to get on with the business of learning. It’s been a long summer for all of us.
I appreciate all of your efforts that have made this atypical fall semester possible. We have asked a lot of you leading up to this point, and we anticipate it will be a challenging semester as we continue to respond and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the situation continues to evolve, the University remains committed to keeping you updated on the latest information. Below are some pertinent updates and reminders for all WVU faculty and instructors, as well as the announcement of some exciting new dependent care resources for faculty. I encourage each of you to regularly visit the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage and the Return to Campus website for the latest information and updates.
As we move forward, I will continue to send regular emails with specific policies and procedures that impact faculty and instructors of record. The details of those changes will be included on the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage, and each message is archived on the Office of the Provost website.
- Assigned Seating and Attendance Tracking: Several instructors have inquired about assigned seating in courses that do not utilize a traditional classroom setting, such as laboratory or outdoor settings. Instructors who feel that assigned seating and the utilization of a seating chart is not possible in their class(es) should contact Amanda Debastiani (email@example.com). She will make note of your course, identify a relevant contact in case contact tracing should be needed, and explore alternatives to assigned seating. These details have been included on the COVID-19 Assigned Seating and Attendance Tracking webpage.
- COVID-19 Academic Notification Process: All faculty and instructors are reminded to review the updated COVID-19 Academic Notification Process in the event that they should be (or have been) notified of a student with a COVID-related incident. Additional details for instructor reference will be added the week of August 31.
- Classroom Behavior Guidelines: Faculty and instructors are encouraged to refer to the Ensuring Safe Classroom Behavior guidelines if they should encounter disruptive classroom behavior that could endanger the health of others.
- Instructor Expectations and Best Practices: To facilitate student engagement and academic success, the Pedagogy and Instruction Committee drafted the COVID-19 Instructor Expectations and Best Practices that apply to all instructors of record. These include the COVID-19 syllabus statement, the University's revised attendance policy and the new emergency leave policy.
- Redistribution of Effort: Faculty are reminded that the deadline to request an adjustment to their distribution of effort for AY 2020-21 is August 30. Details on how to request a temporary one-year modification of the annual work assignment are outlined on the WVU Faculty website.
New Childcare Resources and Support
You may recall in my July 17 message that I mentioned a number of efforts in the works to support childcare and dependent care needs of our faculty. I am excited to tell you that many of these resources are now available! Highlights are below. Details about these resources and more are available on the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 under Dependent Care Resources for Faculty.
- Emergency Fund: The Women’s Resource Center is now accepting and reviewing applications for financial support through the new WVU Faculty Childcare Emergency Relief Fund.
- Flexible Spending Accounts: Changes to the Medical and Dependent Flexible Spending Accounts allow benefits-eligible employees to use unspent 2019-2020 money in the account, create a new account or add more tax-exempt funds to pay for childcare expenses (and adult daycare) they incur while at work.
- Virtual Tutoring for School-Age Children: WVU is now piloting a student-provided, virtual tutoring program for children of WVU faculty enrolled in K-12 schools. Certified tutors from the WVU Honors College will provide up to three hours of tutoring per week in all subject areas. There will be limited slots available. Faculty must apply for consideration, and criteria will be used that are similar to those being used for the WVU Faculty Childcare Emergency Relief Fund. The application will be available next week on the Dependent Care Resources for Faculty webpage.
- Childcareand Adult Care Resource Lists: In partnership with the WVU Office of the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, we have launched a set of childcare resource lists that provide details about all licensed childcare and dependent care providers in the counties in which the WVU campuses are located as well as the surrounding counties in West Virginia. Separate links are provided for Morgantown, Beckley and Keyser campuses on the Dependent Care Resources for Faculty webpage. Dependent care resource lists will be added soon.
Despite our current challenges, the intellectual life of the University continues to flourish. If you are looking for a bit of inspiration, consider registering for the West Virginia Women Moving Forward Virtual Summit on September 14. Speakers will discuss issues impacting women during the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout and will address solutions for meaningful change. The virtual event will feature national and statewide trailblazers, along with key supporters of economic equity who will share compelling stories, innovative solutions and policy ideas to support and empower women.
Also note that the LGBTQ+ Center is now offering a new, student-led initiative to promote a better understanding of anti-racist and gender-inclusive practices on campus. To register for the Anti-Racist and Gender-Inclusive Safe Zone Training by LGBTQ+ student ambassadors, email LGBTQ@mail.wvu.edu.
Thank you again for your hard work and dedication to our students, our University and each other. Good luck with the semester! And continue to let us know what is working and what we can do better.