COVID-19 Update: April 4, 2020
Message from the Association President
I hope that all is well with you in these difficult times, and I hope that (within the constraints of physical distancing) you are able to celebrate the end of a particularly unusual and difficult term. Congratulations on getting through it! And thanks for all the work you put into getting to this point.
I’m writing with a few updates. The first is relevant to everyone, while others will apply to only some of you.
Working from Home and Access to Offices
I realize that most of you are now working from home, but I wanted to share the Administration’s latest directive about access to offices:
“The Provincial Health Officer has strengthened physical distancing guidelines; they are now a legal requirement. While the university remains open, all teaching and most services are now delivered remotely. With faculty and librarians expected to be working remotely at this time, we acknowledge that you may need access to your offices for short intervals, and you may access such spaces for brief periods provided physical distancing protocols are observed. Please note that for security reasons, all campus buildings can only be accessed with a key.”
Resources for Summer Teaching
For those of you teaching courses this summer, I am hoping that you will have information about additional TA resources by late next week. If at that point you feel you have not received adequate TA support—or more generally, if you believe that your online summer teaching assignment(s) are too onerous—please contact the Association. We cannot guarantee that our intervention will make a difference, but we will do our best.
It is my understanding that the LTSI has developed a Summer Session Online Course Support Team, and is planning to provide enhanced online learning tools for instructors. I have been told that we will hear more about this early next week.
Accommodation for Childcare and Eldercare Issues
I have been working with Michele Parkin, the Associate VP Faculty Relations, on the issue of accommodations for those who have been assigned online teaching this summer, but who need to provide care for children, an elderly relative or other dependents.
The Administration is providing more flexibility within existing accommodation processes related to these issues. If you are teaching online with young children at home, or if you have major eldercare or other dependent responsibilities, I encourage you to request an accommodation from your Chair or Director, asking that the course(s) you have been assigned be either reassigned or cancelled, and that you be able to teach that course (or another course) sometime over the following three years instead.
Michele Parkin has indicated that this kind of accommodation is possible, if you can demonstrate to your Chair or Director that:
(i) Your working conditions at home make it impossible to do an adequate job at online teaching,
(ii) You have no alternative options for childcare or eldercare.
The Administration has sent a Memo on Family Status Accommodation regarding this matter to Deans, Chairs and Directors. In normal times, you would be expected to find public childcare, or care from friends or family members, but in the current context, the document asks Chairs considering an accommodation to recognize “any barriers to seeking alternative family care (this may include COVID-19 related restrictions).”
I very much encourage you to consult with our Membership Services Officers (or me), before submitting a request for accommodation of this kind. We can help you make the strongest possible arguments to support your request.
Membership Services Officers Contact info:
Reuben Kellen – [email protected]
Ben Johnson – [email protected]
Cancelled Field Schools
Some of our members had planned to teach field schools over the summer, all of which have now been cancelled. While in normal circumstances there is no compensation for cancelled courses, in this exceptional circumstance—and given the extent of advance work and planning that goes into field schools—Michele Parkin has advised Chairs, Directors and Deans to offer pro-rata credit to affected instructors in a Memo on Cancelled Field Schools.
The document states:
“Units should grant a partial credit for preparation of cancelled field school courses based on a pro-ration of the work done as compared to that expected for full delivery of the course. The amount should be arrived at in discussion between the Chair/Director (or Dean in non departmentalized Faculties) and the instructor of the field school.”
Again, I encourage you to discuss this accommodation with our Member Services Officers or with me before meeting with your Chair, to ensure that you receive a fair amount of credit for the work completed.
I hope to have more news next week on issues such as research, stopping the clock for junior faculty, and whether the Administration will agree to our request not to make CES scores for summer courses available to Deans, Chairs, or Directors, as has already been agreed to for the current term.
I encourage you to visit, and contribute to, our Facebook group which offers useful resources on online teaching, as well as other posts relevant to our situation as we live through these historic times. I must say, I prefer studying historical crises to experiencing them! But this is where we find ourselves. Thank you for continuing to support each other, and our students, through these difficult times.
On a slightly more frivolous note, and in the spirit of supporting the excellent, research-informed policies of our province, here is a link to a ballad about our provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry that I hope you will enjoy.
All the very best,