Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
After our temporary shift to online, the University has re-opened, and hopefully, we are back on track and settling into our new “normal” for the rest of the fall semester. I recognize that this has been a particularly stressful time, and I appreciate the flexibility and patience you have demonstrated as we continue to navigate the school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s email message includes new information and updates, as well as reminders of resources currently available to faculty and instructors. Highlights include:
- Reminders about tracking attendance and assigned seating and the revised University attendance policy
- Resources and guidance for assessing learning, hosting virtual speakers and other instructional needs
- Reminders and updates about the Faculty Childcare Emergency Relief Fund and virtual tutoring for K-12 children
- Details about ongoing COVID-19 testing and the notification process for instructors
- Updated guidance on using the Daily Wellness Survey as a classroom management tool
- New opportunities, including pop-up study rooms and scheduling spaces for class-related events
- Reminders about the deadlines for Spring 2021 schedule and the new form for accommodation requests
I encourage all of our on-campus and online instructors to visit the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage and the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons webpage for additional information, resources and support. And remember, each of these messages is archived on the Office of the Provost website for future reference.
Resources for On-Campus and Online Teaching
- Assigned Seating and Attendance: Now that our on-campus classes are back in session, instructors are reminded of the importance of maintaining assigned seating and attendance in all face-to-face courses, where possible. If you have issues or concerns around the seating chart in your courses, please reach out to Executive Director of Strategic Programs and Planning Amanda DeBastiani ( email@example.com).
- Revised University Attendance Policy: Instructors are reminded that the University’s revised attendance policy indicates that COVID-19-related absences are sanctioned and that students should not be penalized for physical absence. This includes students who are self-quarantining because of symptoms, out-of-state travel or other COVID-19-related situations. Students who are self-quarantining may not have access to official documentation but should still be permitted to participate remotely without penalty. We ask that you be flexible and consider modifying the course attendance and participation policy as suggested by the COVID-19 Instructor Expectations and Best Practices.
- Assessment of Learning: Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Assessment Lou Slimak highlights the importance of assessment of learning during COVID-19. Read up on his suggestions on the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage.
- Virtual Speakers: WVU Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) has added guidance on ways to incorporate virtual speakers into the classroom. For this and additional instructional FAQs, resources and training opportunities, visit the TLC website.
Child and Dependent Care Resources
WVU faculty are reminded of the Faculty Childcare Emergency Relief Fund, which provides eligible faculty members or households up to $1,000, depending on established need and available funding. The application, review and reimbursement process will be managed by the WVU Women’s Resource Center throughout the year.
Last month, we launched the student-provided virtual tutoring program for K-12 students in conjunction with the Honors College. Because of such high demand, we have already reached full capacity. However, my office is now working to secure additional, certified tutors from other University departments. If we are able to extend the program beyond current capacity, we will notify you as soon as possible. In the meantime, employees are reminded of WVU’s partnership with Care.com. Explore the WVU Care website to find support that meets your needs.
Additional resources can be found on the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage.
Ongoing COVID-19 Testing
As an additional safety measure, all faculty and instructors can now be tested for free. WVU has partnered with the West Virginia National Guard and the Monongalia County Health Department to offer free COVID-19 testing every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the WVU Student Rec Center.
Faculty and instructors should note that screening testing also will continue throughout the year and is aimed at groups that have been identified at higher risk.
Additional details about all COVID-19 testing are available on the Return to Campus website.
WVU’s Incident Command Center (ICC) continues to manage contact tracing efforts for the Morgantown campus in conjunction with the CARE Team and the Office of the Provost. With the return to face-to-face classes, some of our on-campus instructors are once again receiving notification from Executive Director of Strategic Programs and Planning Amanda DeBastiani ( firstname.lastname@example.org) about students who have been identified as having a “COVID-related event.”
Below are a few reminders and clarifications regarding this process. I encourage all instructors to review the complete details on the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage.
- Instructors should be aware that there is the possibility of lag time between a student learning of a positive test result and the ICC initiating the contact tracing and notifications. For example, when a student is assessed by a provider other than WVU Student Health or a WVU-hosted testing site, that provider must first report the positive result to their local health department. Eventually, that information will make its way to the Monongalia County Health Department and WVU ICC.
- Because of this potential delay, instructors should assume the validity of a student claiming to have been told to isolate or quarantine by their provider. Once the ICC has been notified of a student’s COVID-related event, Amanda DeBastiani will begin instructor notification and contact tracing efforts. Until then, the instructor should work with the student to develop a plan to deliver the necessary course content, activities and assessments to complete the course learning outcomes, as per the COVID-19 syllabus statement.
- If a student self-reports to an instructor that they have been directed to quarantine prior to the instructor receiving notification from the Provost’s Office, the instructor should contact Amanda DeBastiani ( email@example.com)as soon as possible and advise the student to report their COVID-related event to Care Services at 304-293-6006 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Self-reporting to WVU will initiate the appropriate contact tracing, notification and case management efforts at the University.
- Students whose cases are being managed by the WVU ICC will receive documentation clearing them to return to class. Instructors may ask to see this documentation before allowing the student to attend class in person.
Using the Daily Wellness Survey in the Classroom
For on-campus instructors who are interested in using the Daily Wellness Survey as an additional classroom management tool, we have added several questions and answers to the Return to Campus website.
Instructors should note that if a student’s daily survey states that they are not cleared to come to campus, the survey directs the student to contact Student Health that day to discuss their symptom(s) further.
Students have been encouraged to set up a MyWVUChart account to receive medical excuses for missed classes if needed. Instructors may ask to see this documentation upon the student’s return to the classroom.
While instructors are not required to utilize this tool in their classes, all WVU employees and students are required to complete the daily survey and should be prepared to present the date-stamped pass if asked to do so.
Pop-Up Study Rooms
The Morgantown campus is now offering new “Pop-Up Study Rooms” in addition to the tents. Please share this new opportunity with your students who may need a place to join an online course before or after an on-campus class or who need an additional space to study. Students will be required to follow the same physical distancing and PPE guidelines in these rooms.
The schedule and rooms are listed on the Return to Campus website.
Scheduling Spaces for Class-Related Events
Just as in a typical semester, instructors might need to reserve a room outside of scheduled class times to hold additional sessions (e.g., a review session). Instructors are able to do so and should make note of the following:
- Only classes that have a room assignment on campus this semester can reserve rooms (their own classroom or others, including outdoor venues) for additional class sessions.
- Students and instructors using the room must adhere to all classroom guidelines (reduced density, physical distancing, seating arrangements and PPE usage).
- Seating charts must be submitted for each session/event. Seating charts and instructions will be provided if the request is approved. Completed seating charts must be submitted to Executive Director of Strategic Programs and Planning Amanda DeBastiani ( email@example.com) within 24 hours after each session/event.
Planning for Spring 2021
As was shared in the recent Return to Campus Conversations, my office has started planning for the Spring 2021 semester in partnership with the Morgantown campus academic deans. Our goal is to be as pro-active as possible, while also being realistic about the level of density we believe we can safely achieve at that time.
Rather than prescribing percentage goals for on-campus versus online courses, my office is providing the colleges and schools with more leeway in determining the mode of instruction for courses. At the same time, we are asking that some face-to-face instruction be preserved for freshmen, graduate and professional students, and graduating seniors, who may need certain types of hands-on courses to complete their degree requirements. Ideally, we would like to see a balance of in-class and on-campus instruction similar to what we have achieved this semester.
Still in place will be the “guardrails” of density reducing and physical distancing. This means, in most cases, that large classes of more than 75 students will need to be offered online or in hybrid mode.
The deans have been asked to return their draft schedules to my office on Monday, October 5. Once we’ve had a chance to review the Spring 2021 schedule as a whole, my team will continue to work with Morgantown campus deans and academic leaders to implement adjustments that may still be needed.
Given this tight turnaround, faculty and instructors with concerns will need to contact their department chairs as soon as possible. To allow time for students to register for their courses, the Spring 2021 course schedule will be released Tuesday, October 20.
Spring 2021 Accommodation Requests
For faculty and instructors with conditions that may preclude them teaching on-campus, please note our updated and streamlined process for accommodation requests for all faculty, staff and graduate assistants.
The revised step-by-step process and form have been updated on the WVU Faculty website. This new form and process will be used by all faculty, staff and graduate assistants. All are encouraged to submit their requests and supporting documentation by Sunday, November 1 for the Spring 2021 semester.
Those who pre-applied and have supporting documentation on file with the ADA Coordinator and/or Medical Management only need to provide a plan for the Spring 2021 semester. For those who haven’t yet applied, please be sure to use the new form on the WVU Faculty website.
Formal decision notifications for requests submitted by November 1 will be sent to appropriate deans, chairs, supervisors and applicants in November.
While we knew this fall wouldn’t be easy, none of us could fully anticipate the disruption COVID-19 would cause to our work and lives. Yet, despite the myriad of challenges, I have been heartened by the extra effort made by our faculty, instructors and staff to ensure that our students are having a positive academic experience, both in the classroom and online.
As we face the last seven weeks of the on-campus semester, we will likely face new challenges and new hurdles to overcome. But I am confident that if we continue to work together, support each other and stay focused on our mission, we will continue to have a successful school year.
Again, I thank you for your hard work, dedication and positive attitude! And please continue to keep us informed about what’s working and areas that we can improve upon during this time.