Faculty Update - Information Regarding Instructional Continuity

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Faculty Colleagues,

On March 2nd, I emailed you and requested that you begin to develop an academic continuity plan in the event we determined it was in the best interest of the health and well-being of the university community to suspend face-to-face classes. Today I am emailing you with an update on the situation.

As I am sure you are aware, there are dozens of institutions around the country that are either extending their spring break or officially moving classes to remote delivery. Even though there currently  are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Rockhurst community and there are no special protective actions or orders currently in place for the Kansas City area, the President’s cabinet, in consultation with the crisis management team, has determined the following:

  1. Face-to-face classes are suspended for (at least) two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16 (extending at least until Saturday, March 28.) In other words, we are strongly encouraging students, if they are able, to remain home following spring break. (We are making exceptions -- with restrictions -- for students who have limited housing/food options, UMKC engineering joint program students, Research College of Nursing students, some athletes, etc.)
    1. Classes should begin in their remote format on Monday, March 16, if possible. While the teaching format will be changing, fundamental course and educational objectives should not. However, educational objectives associated with experiential learning (e.g., service-learning, clinical/practicum sites, internships, lab courses, etc.) may need to be modified. You may contact julia.vargas@rockhurst.edu (Director for the Center for Service Learning) or kirsten.potter@rockhurst.edu (Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; CETL) for ideas and assistance.
    2. If you are NOT prepared to move your courses online or other alternate format on Monday, then please notify your students via an Announcement in the course Canvas site or via student email. Please communicate the plans with your students for the online or other alternate format learning activities that will be available by the next scheduled class period.
    3. Please communicate your academic continuity plan for remote delivery of instruction to your department chair, who will coordinate these plans with your academic dean. Your plan should consider the possibility for remote delivery for the rest of the semester.
    4. We realize this might be a stressful change for many faculty. Be assured your Chairs, Dean’s offices, CETL(kirsten.potter@rockhurst.edu) and e-learning (eLearning@Rockhurst.edu) will be on hand to help you with ideas, tools, and implementation. You are not in this alone! Carefully review the resources that the eLearning team and CETL have put together to assist you in this transition. You should also review the email you received earlier this week from eLearning.
    5. Adjunct or new faculty who are unsure how to proceed with the above should contact their Chairs immediately.
  2. Campus offices will remain open for normal business hours.
  3. This is not an extension of spring break; we are communicating to students they should check their university email and Canvas course sites for direction on how to continue their learning from their instructors.
  4. The Learning Center is preparing to hold tutoring and SI sessions remotely beginning on March 23. Instructions will be sent to students and faculty will be copied. If you have any questions, then please contact kirk.skoglund@rockhurst.edu.
  5. If you are going to continue to hold your classes synchronously, then hold them at the regularly scheduled time.  Zoom tools are now available within Canvas, and for many this will be the simplest solution to begin with.
  6. Please describe to your students how you will hold remote office hours (i.e., Zoom, email, phone) and how you will remotely advise students for summer/fall registration.
  7. Please make sure students have a way to contact you via phone (i.e., office or cell).
    1. Consider forwarding your office phone to your cell phone.
    2. If you use your office phone, then be sure your voicemail inbox is empty. I learned recently that even though I delete the message that is sent to my computer, the message remains in my voicemail inbox and, once full, prevents anyone from leaving a message.
  8. Faculty may come to campus to retrieve supplies, work in your office, etc. I, however, ask that you practice important preventative measures to limit the spreading of the virus.
    1. Any member of the campus community who has traveled to a country with a CDC level 2 or higher designation or a city or county with a declared public health emergency, or who has had contact with someone meeting these criteria, is not permitted on campus until completing a 14-day self-quarantine.
  9. The crisis management team is meeting regularly. We will be providing updates on a frequent basis, including notification on whether the suspension of classes will be extended.

I know we have not considered all the potential issues that you might experience as we transition to remote learning. The academic deans are meeting with the department chairs today; please forward any questions you may have at this time to your chair or dean. We will create an FAQ information sheet that we will update regularly as we receive questions and develop responses. We will share its internet location as it is developed.

When I emailed you on March 2, I used words like “in the unlikely event we need to …” But here we are. This is a complex and challenging situation that is rapidly evolving and requires thoughtful analysis and careful deliberation. We did not take the decision lightly, especially when it affects an educational experience that demands great sacrifices from many of our companions. We are in uncharted territory. This is changing how we normally interact with our students and one another. We will make mistakes. Please accept my appreciation for your flexibility in developing ways to continue to deliver learning of the highest quality in this difficult situation.

With appreciation,
Douglas N. Dunham, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs