Updated March 30, 2020
See also the FAQ for Staff for information on what to do should you become exposed to the virus or become ill, and for more detailed information about available technology resources.
Q: What technology will be available to help with our online learning programs and virtual meetings?
A: All forms of technology, both high and low tech, should be considered and will be available. WebEx, Skype, conference calls, Teams, etc., are all options. Simple emails with attachments remain a good way to share documents. For assistance, call the Help Line in IT: (203) 392-5123.
Q: Are faculty still expected to come to campus to hold or participate in meetings?
A: No. Faculty, staff, and students are now prohibited from coming to campus. All classes and meetings will be held virtually. This campus prohibition is scheduled to run at least to the end of the spring semester. All meetings should, to the best of our capacity, be held virtually using WebEx, Skype, conference calls, Teams, etc.
Q: Are we holding in-person advisement or going to online communication to advise our students?
A: As per a recent (3/12/20) memo to faculty, we will be advising students remotely. Students will also be receiving a memo that alerts them to this and will hopefully be preparing for those conversations.
Q: What can we do to provide for our students who do not have access to appropriate technology that would enable them to communicate or pursue classes online?
A: IT has already supplied our limited number of laptops to a few dozen students. Any students still in need of equipment are encouraged to contact IT through the Help Line.
Q: As surrounding area schools are closed, how are we accommodating the needs of students who have been student teaching?
A: The College of Education is suspending all student teacher placements and field experiences at this time. Similarly, the College is working to help insure no penalty is accrued in student progress. Further updates will be forthcoming from the Office of Educational Services.
Q: There are several large programs planned for the upcoming months, especially for May. Will we be able to hold them?
A: All large programs scheduled for the spring semester have been canceled. These include the Undergraduate Research Conference, the Graduate Research Conference, Honors Convocation, and Commencement. We are exploring options in timing or format for the latter.
Q: I have students who work in my lab. What are the options to allow ongoing research or creative activities to continue for our students who are either being paid on a grant or are trying to complete their honors or master’s thesis?
A: While we are trying to minimize the number of individuals on campus, it is recognized we have students who must complete their programs and that this would require an on-campus component. Individuals will be allowed on campus for these types of specific needs on an occasional, but not daily, basis and thus must plan carefully and accordingly. To that end, any student (or faculty or staff member) who needs to be on campus must notify their Dean (or appropriate supervisor) who in turn must alert our Police Department as to name, venue, time and date of visit. This will help assure access to facilities and allow our police to know who is on campus (at a time when our overall population will be very small). The reason must be one that reflects a mandate to complete work that can only be done by being present on campus. NOTE: No student is allowed to work alone in any laboratory or other facility that has a recognizable danger. In these cases there must, in parallel, be a faculty member or supervisor present.
***At this point we are trying to minimize the number of individuals visiting campus to an even greater extent. There must be an exceptional reason to visit and the process noted above remains intact.
Q: What alternatives are available for students who are pursuing clinicals, student teaching, studio work, etc.?
A: In all cases students need to work with their supervisors and departments to find alternatives and learn about recent accommodations being made by various oversight agencies (e.g., Department of Education, etc.).
Q: There are active searches seeking new faculty or staff still ongoing. How do we accommodate for on-campus interviews?
A: For the most part, while not ideal, searches should consider online and virtual interview processes. While this is perhaps not quite as effective as in-person interviews, it is still a viable approach to learn more about candidates. It will provide strong views of, for instance, their teaching prowess, and allow for various individuals and audiences to question and learn more about the candidates.
Q: Are there limitations on WebEX? I believe we are currently limited to 400 licenses.
A: That limitation has been lifted and there should be no numerical limits to accessing this technology.
Q: What accommodations are being made for part-time faculty members who may lack the computers or wifi to allow online teaching?
A: Recent surveys suggest that the large majority of our part-time faculty members do have computers and wifi at home. For those that might not, the Office of Information Technology is exploring approaches laptop loans and mechanisms to allow for hotspot access.
Q: Many of our students have never taken online classes before and may be ill-equipped (knowledge, access, time) to complete them successfully. Additionally, there is the time constraint for our students who are caretakers, anyone that gets sick or cares for the sick, and those who rely on the rapidly closing public spaces to complete their work. Is there a possibility of changing the grading for this semester's classes to pass/fail, as some other schools are doing?
A: The concept of pass/fail is currently being considered by members of Faculty Senate and Academic Affairs. There are many issues associated with making this change, and we want to make sure that we follow an approach that makes academic sense, insures fairness for our students, and does no incidental harm. Before this week's end (week of March 23, 2020), new approaches and policies for Pass/Fail grades and timing for withdrawing from classes should be approved and available.