I hope that you and your families are enjoying the summer. I am writing to update you on in-person instruction and to ask that you provide updated information about your availability to teach in person this fall. Please read this message in its entirety and respond to the survey link at the bottom before the close of business on Friday, August 14. This survey is specifically for instructional faculty and graduate employees (GEs). We are communicating with other employee groups, managers, and supervisors to support them in their roles at the university and continued planning for the fall.
As outlined below, we continue to develop means to support safe and effective in-person delivery of courses, where our facilities and scheduling allow. Surveys of new and continuing students repeatedly show that in-person instruction is a central component of their decision to join us in the coming year. Additionally, we are dedicated to providing equitable access to education, including to students with disabilities and students for whom, for many reasons, a remote modality creates a real obstacle for accessing their learning.
We appreciate that for us to be successful, our top priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone on campus. Toward that end, we have been meeting regularly with a safety committee composed of representatives of our various labor groups, and have been hearing their concerns and ideas. Thus far, our first action has been to open up the campus to support the research and scholarly activities of our faculty and staff. We are well underway in opening research spaces in a very deliberate and careful manner—thus far without incident—and hope to shortly expand access for faculty to their offices and creative spaces.
The second stage is to assess whether we can move forward with a curriculum that has a significant portion of instruction done in-class or through a combination of in-person and remote (hybrid) mechanisms. We have made substantial investments in technology and safety measures to provide a classroom environment that is safe and supportive of both in-person and remote delivery modalities. Specifically, teaching in person will be supported by:
- Provisioning of masks and face shields to all instructors.
- Plexiglas partitions within the classroom lectern area.
- Enhanced daily cleaning and availability of student-use “clean-up” wipes.
- Video cameras and microphones in each classroom that allow recording and/or simultaneous streaming of lectures and in-person/remote classroom discussions.
- Requirement that everyone in a classroom wear face coverings (accommodations will be provided for students who cannot for medical reasons wear face coverings).
- Restricted in-person class sizes to allow for physical distancing requirements.
- Clearly delineated occupancy information that enforces physical distancing requirements within the classroom (verified by the Fire Marshal).
- Extended transition times between class periods to allow appropriately spaced transitions into and out of classrooms.
- Instructors will be provided guidance and a centrally defined remediation approach to follow related to the expectation for face covering use in the classroom.
Safety procedures for more specialized spaces, such as teaching laboratories and studios, are being developed at the unit-level and approved centrally through the Incident Management Team.
More broadly, we will also be implementing a comprehensive virus testing program for individuals both on and off campus. The university has built substantial on-campus capacity for testing, now has a certified testing lab, and is in the process of gaining FDA authorization for several new techniques that should make testing much less costly and much easier to implement. More details on this plan will be forthcoming over the next month.
Updating Your Status – In-person Instruction
To more accurately understand our capacity to make this work, we are asking you to update your availability, given the safety measures that are being put into place, by specifically stating if you are willing to provide in-person instruction in the fall. We recognize a number of factors have changed over the last two months that might impact your ability and decision to teach in person, including the fall plans of 4J and other school districts within the state. We also recognize that other aspects of your personal circumstances may have changed as well. Please complete the in-person instruction survey at your earliest convenience. Your survey responses and our use of them are applicable to the fall term 2020 only. Decisions for winter term will be made at a later date.
This survey is in addition to the earlier UO Fall 2020 Request to Continue Working 100% Remotely Survey. All instructional faculty and GEs who did not already complete the prior survey—or who want to change their response to the earlier survey—should complete this survey in order to record your new response to either be remote or teach in person in the fall. If you filled out the prior survey your response will remain unchanged unless you now indicate a change to your prior response. We ask that you take into consideration the safety measures that the university has put in place before making your decision.
Submissions will be received and managed by the Office of Human Resources and will only be accessible to those with a need to know to perform their work. Responses will be compiled and submitted to academic leadership for planning purposes on or around August 16. Thereafter, your department head will follow up to confirm receipt and approval of your request and communicate other applicable information, if any. The university will honor any request to teach remotely during the 2020 fall term and will not retaliate against anyone based on their response to this survey.
This is clearly a challenging time for the entire UO community. By continuing to build upon our core values of respect and mutual support, the entire community will be able to face—and overcome—this challenge together. I thank each of you for your ongoing manifold contributions to this effort.
Provost and Senior Vice President