Instructional Continuity Memo (March 20)
As Dr. Young’s communication explained on Wednesday, we have two primary goals guiding our decision making and response to the evolving COVID-19 situation: 1) the health and wellness of our SUNY Orange family, and 2) ensuring instructional continuity for the remainder of Spring 2020 with academic integrity. To that end, we have made the decision to move all instruction to an alternative / distance format for the remainder of Spring 2020 and not hold any on-campus, in-person instruction (with social distancing) as we had previously planned and I shared in a March 16, 2020 communication. Again, to be clear, no on-campus, in-person labs will be held for the remainder of Spring 2020. Beginning next week, the Academic Affairs Leadership Team will be working with you to support your transition to alternative / distance instruction with the goal of designing completion strategies that do not require students to come to campus. Please also know that at this time, student access to campus computer labs, libraries, academic support centers, is not available, until such time as a safe return to campuses by students is possible.
I understand that those of you who are being asked to make the transition to alternative / distance formats in our applied / lab instructional courses will likely have many questions and concerns. Last week, with the help of the Department Chairs, we took a quick assessment of all Spring 2020 courses to determine how readily we could transition courses to a distance format. We know where the challenging spots lie. We are planning targeted Zoom video/phone conferences next week to discuss and share resources and strategies for maintaining instructional continuity and supporting students’ learning, at a distance, in these courses for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. Watch your email for an invitation to join a Zoom Discussion on Labs and Alternative Instructional Continuity Strategies, to be held from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. on Monday, March 23. As a reminder, SUNY System also has a number of webinars available through its Remote Teaching Clinic, most of which are focused on teaching “remotely” in a specific discipline / subject area. More information can be found here: suny.edu/RemoteTeachingClinic
Transitioning Clinicals / Field Placements / Internships / Practicums
For those of you teaching in programs that require clinical, field placement, internship, or practicum hours in partnership with external agencies and facilities: affected departments are working to identify alternative instructional resources and opportunities that can stand in substitute and fulfill program requirements with integrity. The Department Chairs, Associate Vice Presidents, and I are in communication with regard to these decisions and will seek NYSED and external accreditors’ approval, where necessary. Please work closely with your Department Chair and Associate Vice President to update your course syllabi and reflect any changes to how clinical / field placement / internship / practicum instructional time will be transitioned. Again, the goal is to identify completion strategies in each of these programs that do not require students to come to campus.
Professional Development Week: March 23-27
As referenced in my communication earlier this week, the Center for Teaching and Learning and Academic Technology have partnered to create a robust selection of Professional Development opportunities for you in support of these transitions, all of which will be hosted remotely via Zoom, the week of March 23-27. On Monday and Tuesday, a number of specific topics related to Zoom, Blackboard and Gmail/Google Drive are planned throughout the day for faculty to join, as their schedules allow. Additionally, behind the scenes, several Train the Trainer (TTT) sessions are being coordinated with faculty leaders in each academic department to assist their areas throughout the week. Beginning Wednesday and through Friday, Open Support hours will be conducted via Zoom by CTL and Academic Technology to support your transition to alternative / distance formats. Please see the attached schedule for a full listing of these events.
Faculty and Staff Access to Campus Offices
I understand that you may need to return to campus to retrieve resources that are important to your continued work for the remainder of Spring 2020. Administration is working on an organized plan for College employees to stagger visits to campus offices to retrieve any necessary materials in order to effectively work remotely. Details on that plan will appear in a forthcoming email communication.
Student Concerns and Technology Needs
I am sure that your students have been in touch with you with questions already and that the decision to move all instruction to an alternative / distance format will increase the number of concerns and questions they have. Please work with students to clearly communicate how you plan to transition instruction and support their completion of the course. When students present questions best addressed by student services professionals, student accounts, or other administrative offices, please direct them to contact the appropriate office (if you’re not sure which office is appropriate, direct the student to your department chair). Support services and administrative offices across the College will also be working next week to transition their services to a remote format and will communicate to the college community, including students, how best to access those services moving forward.
We are working on a plan to lend Chromebooks to students who have a hardship with accessing technology to complete coursework that now requires a device to do so from a distance. More details are forthcoming on this plan next week.
Finally, I will hold Virtual Office Hours next week, via Zoom, as a forum for open discussion and conversation with regard to our Instructional Continuity plans and the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. The Office Hours will be held at the following times:
- Monday, March 23: 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
- Monday, March 23: 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 24: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 24: 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
I will send out invitations with individual Zoom links via email so that you can join as your schedules allow.
In closing, let me once again acknowledge the enormous lift that semester has been and will continue to be for all of us: faculty, staff, and students. I have been so impressed with this College community’s response - your creativity, innovation, and compassion have shined in some of the dark days we have experienced. I ask that you continue to be patient and understanding with our students, be flexible with integrity, and most of all be kind. We’re all in this together and we need to trust each other to put students’ learning and their needs first as we continue to navigate these remaining weeks of Spring 2020.
Take care of yourselves, take care of your loved ones, and know that your creativity, flexibility, and dedication to students have never been more critical, noted, and appreciated.
Continue to watch your email for additional updates and details next week.
Be well, Team Orange.