COVID-19 Update: October 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update: October 13, 2020

Message from the Association President

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you all had some time to relax over the Thanksgiving weekend. Please find our latest COVID-19 update below.

Extension of Spring/Summer CES Policy

First, I have some positive news to share. As some of you may have heard from your Chairs, the University has agreed that for the fall 2020 term CES will only be used in the way it has been used during the spring and summer terms. This means that instructors will have access to CES results and can choose whether or not to use them in evaluations. Chairs and Directors will not have access to CES results, and therefore will not be able to use them for evaluation (either for salary or reappointment/promotion/continuing appointment) unless a faculty member decides to place them in their teaching dossiers as part of their evaluation.

The University has accepted the Association’s arguments about CES for this term, acknowledging the unique working conditions associated with the pandemic where the majority of faculty are teaching online for the first time this fall with a new LMS system, and agreeing that it is reasonable to continue not to make CES available to Chairs and Directors for the fall term. However, the University is planning to resume the use of CES in evaluation in the normal way next term, starting in January 2021.

Extension of Study Leave Deferral Policy

Since travel restrictions are likely to remain in place at least into the early part of 2021 (and possibly longer), the University has agreed to allow faculty members to apply for deferrals of study leaves that are to begin in 2021, with accrued and unused Study Leave credit to be maintained, as was the case with study leaves deferred in 2020. However, to support the planning needs of the departments and Faculties, if you want to defer your study leave in 2021, you will need to identify the date the leave will be deferred to.

For further details about how to apply for deferrals, and deadlines to apply for deferrals, please see the yellow highlighted sections of the attached Letter of Understanding (LOU). This LOU is revised from the April 2020 LOU between the Association and the University to include the CES agreement for fall 2020, and study leave deferrals for 2021.

In addition, because some members may not have applied for study leave by the October 1st deadline because they didn’t realize they could defer leaves in 2021, the University has agreed to extend the deadline to apply for study leaves under s. 34.4 to November 15, 2020.

Reminder of Workload Supports

As you are aware, most teaching will continue to be online in January of 2021. Given the concerns I have heard about the extent of the extra work involved in online teaching, and in using a new LMS system, the Association is concerned about the limited amount of time that members will have to prepare for the January term. The Association would therefore like to remind you of the existing options that are available to support unmanageable workloads or family status accommodation requests.

I am aware that some members have been able to make use of these options/accommodations, but I want to be sure that all members are aware that they can apply to their Chair/Director or Dean if they are concerned that they will not be able to manage their workload for the coming term, including the preparation involved in developing online courses.

Options for Unmanageable Workloads

I am pleased that the University is providing options to address workload challenges, particularly for those most heavily impacted such as: teaching stream faculty with high course loads, instructors with multiple courses to be converted for spring term, instructors with courses that are especially time consuming to convert to online formats, and instructors with large enrolment courses. These options are detailed in the Workload Toolkit memo from Michele Parkin. This memo does not guarantee support for faculty in these categories, but makes it more possible for you to request support, and provides various options that you or your Chair or Dean can suggest. Some may seem more useful or appropriate to you than others. These options, including requesting Alternative Workload arrangements, are discussed in some detail in my email to members of June 15th.

Those who feel that online teaching and teaching prep is taking up most of their time and are concerned that this will hurt them when the time comes for salary evaluation, may wish to change their evaluation ratios (without changing the number of courses they are teaching) so that there is more emphasis on teaching and less on research for the 2020 evaluation year. You should be aware that the Collective Agreement makes it clear that the agreement of the Association member is required for any Alternative Workload arrangement, or any change in evaluation ratios.

Another option listed is that of a Reduced Workload, in which less work is required, but it means you are moving temporarily to a part-time appointment, with a part-time salary. This may work for some members, but again, the Collective Agreement makes it clear that the agreement of the member is required for any Reduced Workload arrangement. In addition, if you will be able to continue at your full research and service load, but just need to reduce your teaching load at this time, we strongly encourage you to consult with the Association, as this will require you to submit both a Reduced Workload and an Alternative Workload request to your Chair.

Other options listed in the memo, such as team teaching for large online classes, dividing large online classes into smaller sections and providing extra TA support as well as other support for proctoring exams, chat management, etc. could be effective in reducing the extra work involved in teaching online classes. Recognizing other teaching work beyond online classes to develop a more varied teaching schedule for members (such as directed studies, graduate and honours supervisions, curriculum or program development) could also be a positive option, if this work can be recognized as equivalent to other teaching assignments. In such cases an Alternative Workload arrangement would not be necessary, as you would be replacing one kind of teaching work (a course) with other teaching work.

The Workload Toolkit memo notes that the options listed are “subject to the ability of the academic unit to support associated costs or program alterations.” If they need to do so, Faculties are able to request support from the central administration to assist with providing these supports for instructors.

Requesting Accommodation on the Basis of Disability or Family Status

If you are facing workload challenges you can also request accommodation on the basis of disability or family status. There may be particular issues related to online teaching that require accommodation on the basis of disability. The Association is aware that for those with young children or eldercare responsibilities, pandemic conditions can severely limit your time for both teaching and research. If pandemic conditions reduce or eliminate your existing childcare support, as I noted in my email of April 4th, you can request accommodation on the basis of family status.

Some of the options discussed above may provide possible accommodations. If you don’t have access to alternative childcare options, you may be able to have a course cancelled if you provide evidence to support this. In this case, you would be expected to teach another course at a time mutually agreed between you and your Chair, within the timeframe that workload is expected to be balanced, as per CA s. 13.13.

If you have questions about any of the issues mentioned above, or feel that the workload you are facing in preparing and teaching online courses for the January term is untenable, but you don’t feel that you can request these supports on your own, please feel free to consult with me or our Membership Services officers:

Reuben Kellen [email protected]

Ben Johnson [email protected]

If you are finding your current workload, combined with the ongoing stresses related to the pandemic, to be increasing difficult to manage, I would encourage you to contact your Chair, a mentor, or the Association, sooner rather than later. Counselling resources through UVic’s Employee Assistance Plan can also provide support and assistance. We are all continuing to deal with difficult times, and I hope that you will reach out for support when you need it.

A number of you have asked me how the University will recognize the uneven impacts that the pandemic has had on faculty research and teaching for salary evaluation as well as for reappointment, continuing appointment, tenure and promotion processes. The Association is discussing these issues with the University and hopes to come to some agreements before salary evaluation for 2020 commences in the spring. We will also be sending out a survey within the next two weeks regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our members. We hope that the results of this survey will assist us in our negotiations with the University on these and other COVID-19 related matters.

I wish you continued strength in these times. I hope that you are not expecting anything close to perfection from yourselves, and that you can continue to be kind to yourselves, your colleagues and your students.

All the very best,

Lynne Marks


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