Faculty Guidance for Fall 2020: Provost’s Communication 1

June 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect the State of Illinois even as we collectively battle to mitigate the spread and impact of this virus. Higher education is not immune from either the viral pandemic or its impact, and as we prepare for the Fall 2020 semester, many unknowns remain regarding the conditions under which we’ll be operating.

This is the first in a series of communications to provide faculty with guidance and information to prepare for Fall semester. The primary goal is to provide you with a sense of the guidelines that shape our planning, to outline the timeline anticipated for making final decisions about Fall 2020 course delivery, and to share information regarding the academic and financial support available to faculty as they prepare alternative delivery formats for courses scheduled to be offered face-to-face.

Guiding Principles

This plan has been crafted and shaped by a broad and inclusive group of faculty and administrators and has been shared with the Executive Committee of the Campus Senate in consultation with UPI 4100/United Faculty.  The planning was guided by the following principles:

  • Prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, visitors and community members.
  • Preserve the mission and vision of the University and continue to advance the overarching goal of the Strategic Compass – to provide a premier educational experience for all students both in and out of the classroom.
  • Be guided by best practices across all planning and decision-making.
  • Utilize transparency and shared governance to support the best possible decisions.

Timeline

Another consideration in the academic planning process is Gov. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, which identifies five phases of the pandemic and identifies the markers for different regions of the state for moving from most (Phase 1: Rapid Spread) to least restrictive (Phase 5: Illinois Restored).  The State of Illinois (all regions) is currently at Phase 3: Recovery.  In order for campuses to host students and offer courses in a face-to-face format, our region of the state must be declared to be in Phase 4: Revitalization.  Phase 4 allows for gatherings of up to 50 persons, restaurants and bars to reopen, resumption of travel, and the opening of child care and schools under guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health.  Face coverings and social distancing would remain in place.  This phased approach means that any final decision about how UIS will offer instruction and other support services will emerge gradually over the summer and that a final decision about course delivery for Fall 2020 might not be made until sometime during mid-July.

Course Planning and Support

Recognizing that these challenging times may require courses currently scheduled for face-to-face instruction to undergo a change in delivery modality, UIS will provide support for faculty to plan for these possible changes as well as, on a non-precedential basis, a modest financial award for faculty teaching on-ground/remotely in appreciation for the additional work undertaken.

The Center for Online Learning, Research & Service (COLRS) has scheduled a full selection of workshops to provide faculty with exposure to and support for incorporating best practices into the alternative design (blended or remote) chosen for Fall 2020 face-to-face courses. It is highly recommended that all courses be prepared and delivered on CANVAS.  In addition to these workshops, six COLRS Faculty Fellows have agreed to work with and support individual faculty on their course planning over the summer months.  These fellows include Ranjan Karri (CBM), Layne Morsch (LAS), Carolee Rigsbee (CBM), Jennifer Martin (EHS), Youngjin Kang (EHS), and Junu Shrestha (PAA). Contact COLRS to schedule one-on-one support with a Fellow.

Faculty who are scheduled to teach on-ground and blended courses in the fall will need to be prepared to teach their courses remotely for part or all of the semester, due to individual faculty/staff/student health risks and the possibility of resurgence of COVID-19. In recognition of this hardship and additional preparation, faculty scheduled to teach on-ground/blended courses in the fall semester may receive $500 per on-ground/blended fall course for up to three courses. Faculty with laboratories and online studios will also receive additional resources for software and technology and will coordinate with Dr. Vickie Cook.

I encourage those faculty members to also consider signing up for the Blended Learning Best Practices and/or the Technology Tools for Remote Course Delivery workshops offered through the summer. These have been designed to support faculty in preparing for remote learning and/or blended courses.

Faculty scheduled to teach on-ground and blended courses in the Fall semester may initiate an online application to receive this funding . Preview Funding Application

The deadline for submission of applications is July 1, 2020.

UIS Community Safety

There are many questions that remain to be addressed.  One of the main questions I hear is, “How will UIS address the individual concerns of faculty and staff who may be at higher risk for the adverse effects of COVID-19?”  I want to assure you that this is at the top of our minds and that conversations at the system level will identify or establish an appropriate process for addressing these concerns.  UIS is committed to providing every reasonable accommodation to members of the University community who are at higher risk during the pandemic.  This will be one of the topics that is addressed in a future communication.

Another question concerns how the University plans to mitigate risk associated with the pandemic.  Extensive conversations and planning are taking place at both the system and University around these issues.  In addition to social distancing and facial coverings, testing and contact tracing will be essential to restoring the University.  There will be other related issues that will be addressed as well.  These plans will also be presented in a future communication.

I realize how difficult it is to plan for the unknown.  Faculty and staff rose to the task in the spring and I am confident that, working together, we will be able to provide our students with a high quality educational experience in the fall.

Dennis

Dennis R. Papini
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Provost