UCR has been closely monitoring the status of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). It remains impossible to determine if, when, or to what extent our campus might be impacted. However, should the virus continue to spread, it is likely that some faculty, staff and students will be affected and will have to remain quarantined or isolated for a period of time. Although it seems unlikely at this time, it is even possible for disruptions as significant as closing all or part of the campus on short notice for two weeks or more.
Beyond the immediate health risks of COVID-19, the virus also may pose significant academic risks for students. If you, your teaching assistants, or some or all of your students are unable to meet face-to-face, student learning can be disrupted. While such situations are not unusual at a university as large as UCR, this typically happens to small numbers of people for short durations of time and we are able to make adjustments and continue with business as usual. For example, a colleague can provide a lecture if an instructor is sick, an instructor can spend additional time tutoring students who miss multiple lectures, an office can be provided for a make-up exam, and a small number of grades may be delayed while students complete work missed because of unavoidable absences.
These solutions do not work when many people are impacted for longer periods of time, or if all or part of the campus must close. Postponing instruction at large scales creates very significant problems for students and the campus as a whole. UCSB experienced these problems recently when final exams were canceled due to a wildfire and time was carved out of winter quarter to reschedule fall quarter exams. The ripple effects of such scheduling changes were numerous and problematic for students.
Due to these risks, we are asking every instructor to immediately develop a continuity plan for your winter and spring quarter courses. Below is a set of actions with links to existing and new resources to help you implement a plan that works best for each of your courses and promotes the welfare of our students.
URGENT ACTIONS FOR INSTRUCTORS
- Establish a complete and regularly updated gradebook in iLearn. If the instructor or other course staff become ill or are under quarantine, this will ensure an accurate record of all assignment scores is accessible so that students can receive their course grades in a timely manner.
- Ensure that remaining assignments, including final exams, can be reliably collected and graded, and the course grades computed and submitted, even if the instructor or other course staff become ill or are quarantined. Consider alternative assessment methods (e.g. online exams and presentations) for students who are ill or quarantined.
- Talk with your students about their concerns regarding attendance at lectures and final exams. Share campus information about COVID-19 and be clear about your expectations regarding attendance for healthy students.
- Consider how to adjust course policies related to class attendance to avoid penalizing students who become ill or are placed under quarantine.
- Remind students that if they will be unable to attend class for an extended period of time, instructors, academic advisors and Student Affairs Case Management are available to help them get back on track.
- Practice good hygiene in classroom environments and encourage students to do the same.
HIGH PRIORITY ACTIONS FOR INSTRUCTORS
- Visit https://keepteaching.ucr.edu/ to learn how to make the most of technology-based options for instructional continuity.
- Place all key course documents (e.g., syllabi, assignments, readings, lecture materials) on iLearn, so that instructors and students can access them remotely in case they are unable to come to campus due to illness or quarantine. If the course has a separate website or other online resources, provide links to them from iLearn.
- Arrange for an alternative method to deliver your lectures to your students. Options include pre-recorded video or audio (podcasting) with distribution through iLearn to ensure safe storage and sufficient bandwidth. Live video or audio also can be used with software such as Zoom. ITS is working to ensure we have sufficient software licenses for the anticipated increased demand.
- Determine whether instructors for similar courses (possibly previous offerings of your course at UCR or the analogous course at another campus) have captured and stored lectures that you might use. Inquire with your department chair and colleagues at UCR and elsewhere. Also check the UC ILTI online course catalog.
If you have unique circumstances that would not be adequately addressed by implementing these actions (e.g. laboratory, performance studio or field course), please discuss other options with your department chair and develop an appropriate instructional continuity plan. Consultation with colleagues also is encouraged, especially those who already have experience with the technologies listed above.
In addition, deans, department chairs and program directors must take the following actions to help promote instructional continuity for students.
REQUIRED ACTIONS FOR DEANS, CHAIRS AND DIRECTORS
- Work with faculty in your unit to implement the actions described in the sections above.
- Make contingency plans for how your unit will keep courses running if instructors or course staff become ill or are quarantined. This may include identifying alternate instructors who could step in if the instructors of record become ill or must quarantine.
- Plan ahead to meet the ADA needs of quarantined instructors or students who had arranged accommodation for face-to-face instruction.
- Plan to increase summer course offerings for summer 2020 to support the academic advancement of students whose course plans were disrupted and/or who cannot return home during summer 2020. This should include current students and inbound transfers from California community colleges.
- Inventory courses for which lecture capture exists already. Make faculty aware of the inventory and make the material available as needed to support current courses. Consider building your inventory with newly captured content, and arranging for additional capture in future quarters.
Thank you for taking these steps to prepare for possible disruptions and promote continuity of instruction at UCR. Your individual efforts to find solutions that work for our students are an essential part of campus planning and mitigation efforts. Thanks also to the joint administrative-faculty workgroup that developed an initial draft of these guidelines.
Please stay alert for additional updates from the campus.