COVID-19 and Completing the Teaching Term
March 13, 2020
Message from the Association President
As you may have seen, the University has announced that it is suspending face-to-face instruction as of this Monday, March 16th. It is asking instructors to transition to alternative modes of instruction and assessment for the rest of the term. The administration is giving faculty various options for completing the term. If instructors feel the learning outcomes for the term have been met, instructors have the option of changing the weighting of midterms and assignments to determine a final grade now. Other options include transitioning to completing the course via email, or posting lecture notes, PowerPoint slides, videos etc on Course Spaces or through other online formats. The University is also requiring that you communicate your plans for completing course and assessment to your students and chair or director by Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Since final exams can no longer be done in person, instructors who still need a final form of assessment can consider other options, such as take home exams or having students take exams via Course Spaces. More details are provided in Jamie’s email and online where the university has also provided FAQs, both regarding teaching and new travel restrictions. I would very much encourage you to read the entire website carefully.
As a historian, I have read and taught about the results of previous pandemics. I believe that the University is taking a prudent path here, following the expert advice of BC’s Provincial Health Officer, to try and prevent the spread of the virus, particularly to more vulnerable populations. Unlike many universities, UVic is giving instructors a reasonable time frame within which to make decisions on how to complete their courses, and has shown considerable faith in the good judgement of its faculty and instructors. The University is leaving it to you to decide whether you can wrap up courses now and provide a final grade, or if not, to decide what remaining instruction and assessment (that can be provided online) remain to be completed.
The University remains open and faculty can access their offices, research labs and boardrooms as normal. While department and committee meetings will still likely be held, faculty members have the option to join in by phone or Skype. If faculty members are speaking with students one on one, the university encourages the use of Skype or phone, rather than in-person meetings.
I know this will not be an easy process. The Association is ready to field your questions, to ask the administration for further resources if there are problems or gaps in the available supports, and in general to advocate for you as necessary.
To protect the health of Association staff and volunteers, we ask that in seeking our assistance on these or any other issues, you contact us by email, and set up a time to meet by Skype or by phone, rather than in person.
Wishing you all the best,
President, University of Victoria Faculty Association