Communications to Faculty

Email to Faculty Members on April 6, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We have prepared some updates for you about USU’s response to the COVID-19 situation. Thank you again for your hard work and innovation as we navigate these unusual waters. For more information about how USU is responding to the current pandemic, please visit usu.edu/covid-19.

IDEA Evaluations for Teaching

The Faculty Senate (FS), under the leadership of FS President Patrick Belmont, has recommended that IDEA surveys be conducted for Spring Semester 2020, managed by the Office of the Provost. However, given the rapid transition of in-person classes to remote teaching, the Spring 2020 IDEA evaluation results will ONLY be shared with the individual faculty members.

These evaluation results will not be included in the institutional record nor will the results be required for any promotion/tenure dossier or annual review material. However, faculty members who decide to include their data in their dossiers or record may do so, but will need to insert that material themselves. The data generated by the surveys will be examined by USU at the aggregate level so we can assess how the transition went. 

Pass/Fail Policy

Students now have the option of converting letter grades to pass/fail (P, D+, D, F) for any semester-long and second-block courses taken during Spring Semester 2020. The new deadline is May 19, which allows the student to time to review the final letter grade (posted by the instructor no later than May 5) before deciding on pass/fail.

Departments have agreed that Spring 2020 Semester classes with a pass grade will fulfill most (but not all) major requirements and prerequisites at USU. Though many accreditation and licensure requirements have agreed to pass/fail for this time period, some exceptions exist. Students applying for post-baccalaureate programs at other universities are encouraged to check if a pass grade instead of a letter grade will be accepted. Because of these various exceptions, students have been instructed through email and online that they must first consult with their academic advisor (undergraduate student) or major advisor (graduate student) before finalizing the change to pass/fail.

Final Examinations

Please review dates for completing the semester and tips for administrating a final exam in a remote environment.

Schedule

  • No-test week:  April 15-21. During this time, no major examinations, including final examinations, should be administered to allow students to concentrate on preparation for finals. For further information and exceptions, please see the USU Academic Calendar.
  • Last day of classes: April 21.
  • Interim day: April 22. Faculty are not to schedule any required course activities or any assignments/activities that contribute to students’ grades (including extra credit) on the interim day. 
  • Final exams: April 23-29.

Administrating final exams for remote classes

  • Spring Semester 2020 courses have been adapted to provide flexibility for student participation and completion under COVID-19 restrictions. Final exams should be administered in the same spirit of asynchronous delivery. As such, it is recommended that final exams are administered to students during finals week while also following best practices for secure online testing.  
  • Faculty should consider opening access to an exam for a minimum of 24 hrs. By administering final exams asynchronously, students will be able to make appropriate arrangements, such as internet access and a quiet testing location, for completing multiple final exams in their remote location.
  • Faculty originally scheduled to administer final exams on Thursday, April 23 or Friday, April 24 should consider opening access for their exams for at least 24 hours during this 48-hour period.
  • Faculty originally scheduled to administer final exams on Monday, April 27, Tuesday, April 28, or Wednesday, April 29 should consider opening access for their exams for at least 24 hours during this 72-hour period.
  • If an exam must be delivered synchronously (highly discouraged), the faculty should follow the published exam schedule.
  • USU Testing Center staff will be available during the week of final exams to provide live chat and phone support for students between the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on April 23 to 29.
  • Faculty should direct questions about developing and administering remote final exams to the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction (CIDI).

Updated Resources for Faculty Teaching Remotely

The Empowering Teaching Excellence (ETE) program and CIDI have recently expanded the portfolio of faculty resources for remote instruction. The Center for Student Analytics has also partnered with ETE to release a series of short webinars about best practices in remote teaching and learning grounded in analytics.

Thank you all again for your hard work during Spring Semester 2020. 

Sincerely,

Frank Galey
Provost


Email to Faculty Members on March 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues: 

First, thank you so much for your hard work and dedication in helping USU do our best to meet the challenges of fulfilling our mission in this unprecedented situation.  The feedback I am getting is truly inspiring, and I am very proud to be part of this great team! 

We have several updates for you today regarding this fluid situation.

Note to Our Pre-tenure Colleagues:

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will consider COVID-19 to be a legitimate reason for requesting an extension to the pre-tenure probationary period for faculty, following approval of the department head, dean or Vice President for Extension.  It is understood that this health emergency may impact or slow research, teaching and/or extension activities that support the candidate’s dossier.  Per USU Policy 405.1.4 (4), a faculty member may request the extension through the department head, who subsequently routes it to the dean or, where appropriate, the Vice President for Extension, for their approval.  Requests approved by the department head, dean (or Vice President for Extension) will be forwarded to the Provost for final approval. 

Our Native American Students:

Late Friday night, the Navajo Nation issued a “shelter in place” order stemming from a public health emergency declaration for the entirety of the Navajo Nation.  You can read more about it on their Facebook page.  USU students who were on the Navajo Nation at the time of the order will not be allowed to travel back to USU’s campuses.  Students under the order on the Navajo Nation may have technological difficulty or limited WIFI access for completing remote classes.  We ask that you be understanding of these students.  My office will soon provide specific information to instructors about how we can help those students complete this semester.

Pass-Fail Option:

USU has extended the deadline to April 15, 2020 for students to designate Pass/Fall (P/F) for Spring 2020 Semester courses.  A ServiceNow form will soon be available for students to make the P/F request. The form will route to the appropriate advisor who will then contact the student and inform them of the impact to their program of study.  Regardless of the student’s choice, faculty are to enter the actual grade the student earns.  This provides a record of the original grade, but Banner will automatically switch it to P or F depending on the grade entered. 

Students will withdraw through Banner just like normal, although that deadline is also extended to April 15, 2020.  We will reach out to all students who withdraw so we can inform them of the financial implications (Financial Aid, tuition plateau, etc.). We will retroactively change it back if the student decides the impact is too negative.  Deadlines for students and other updates on this topic are available online at https://www.usu.edu/registrar/covid/.

USU policy allows courses with P grades to transfer both in and out of the university.  However, departments are strongly advised to review their graduation and prerequisite requirements and allow P grades in Spring 2020 Semester to fulfill departmental requirements. 

Status of Research:

Please consult  https://research.usu.edu/covid19/ for latest updates regarding USU research.

Update to LARC Status:  The LARC status has been upgraded to Level Blue.  Please review the LARC Pandemic Response Plan to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact research using laboratory animals maintained in the LARC:

https://research.usu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/USU-LARC-Epidmeic-Response-Plan_Color-Coded-3-23-20.pdf 

Summer 2020 Semester:

USU will be moving forward with Summer 2020 registration beginning on April 1, 2020.  Courses offered during the Summer semester will be those that can be delivered remotely as we assume the university will not be back to regular operation by May 4.

Fall 2020 Semester:

Registration for Fall 2020 Semester will begin on April 6, 2020. At this time, the University is planning on a full fall schedule of courses as anticipated prior to the COVID-19 protocols.  However, due to the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, fall semester plans may change over time and faculty should check with their departments for updated information.

Update on Commencement 2020:

Several exciting events are planned for students in the 2020 graduating class.  Please see https://www.usu.edu/commencement/ for more details.

Potential University Closure:

We will not move to a university closure unless there is a wide-spread infection on campus or there is a government issued order, as outlined under Level 1 of our Infectious Disease Plan on the USU COVID-19 website https://dps.usu.edu/emergency/COVID-19/.  For now, the university is open and thriving, in a large part because of the hard work all of you are doing.

Sincerely,

Frank Galey
Provost


Email to Faculty Members on March 17, 2020

Dear Colleagues: 

Thank you all again for your hard work as we move to providing remote education for our students.   Further, we are asking that we track the additional time we devote to this matter for Federal reporting.

1. Closure of USU Testing Centers

USU’s Testing Centers at all campuses (Logan, Statewide, and Eastern) will close effective Wednesday, March 18. These closures will remain in effect as long as all USU classes are delivered remotely. This will ensure equity and safety for testing among students wherever their location. AIS (CIDI) teams are coordinating live emergency response staffing along with online tutorials to support faculty with remote quizzing and examinations.  Faculty should direct questions to:

Testing Support Chat (M-F, 7am-10pm), 

Phone: (855) 834-2370 (M-F, 8am-5pm)

Online Tutorials: http://cidi.usu.edu/topics/Remote_Quizzes_and_Exams

2. Reimbursable COVID-19 Hours and Materials

Based on guidance from the State of Utah and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in order to be reimbursed, USU must track all labor costs and materials consumed in the University’s preparation for and mitigation of COVID-19. This will allow USU and the State of Utah the ability to seek some reimbursement for costs related to this emergency.  

Please track your COVID-19 related hours and materials dating back to March 9, 2020 and going forward.

Using the COVID-19 Tracking System in Service Now, employees should report hours worked and materials consumed in response to COVID-19.  We recommend employees record labor hours on a daily basis and material consumption at least weekly.

Report COVID-19 Labor Hours Here

Record COVID-19 Materials Here

Thank you for taking time to enter data into the COVID-19 Tracking Systems which will help recover costs for Utah State University brought on by COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Frank Galey
Provost


Email to Faculty Members on March 14, 2020

Dear USU Faculty:

 Thank you for your extraordinary efforts to provide alternate methods for delivering education to your students in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation.  An important component of our efforts will be that students must know, definitively and rapidly, the status of their courses and how they are going to be able to remotely complete the Spring 2020 semester course.  To this end, students recently received notice that faculty will communicate with them concerning their courses.  Given the important need for accurate and timely information, you are asked to articulate the plan directly to your students for how your course will proceed remotely by Monday, March 16th at 5:00 pm

 During this unprecedented transition, the need for clarity is imperative.  In an effort to simplify and standardize communications between faculty and students, please use the following guidelines:

In your Canvascourse page (all USU CRNs have a Canvas course shell: https://usu.instructure.com/ ) use the Announcement function to message your students. This will allow students to receive course information though texts and/or emails. To learn how to use the Announcement tool in Canvas, see: https://cidi.usu.edu/topics/Communicate_with_Students_Using_Canvas_Announcements for instructions, or for a tutorial video: http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/f466f.

If you are already communicating with your students via another mechanism, and are assured that the method is reaching all your students effectively, you may continue to use that method.

If you have any questions about communicating with your students, please call the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction (CIDI): 435-797-9506 or the IT HelpDesk: 435-797-4357.

The plan you communicate to students regarding your course should include: 1) how you will provide the remote experience (in Canvas with video lectures, office hours, discussion forums, etc.); 2) an estimated date of when you will begin (preferably March 18); 3) any major changes to the syllabus; and 4) any other essential information that will assist students in progressing through the course. 

Following this initial communication, I encourage you to follow up regularly with your students and be accessible to their questions.

I recognize the amazing work you are doing on behalf of your students.  Thank you for your efforts during this unprecedented time.

Frank Galey
Provost


Email to USU Faculty Members on March 12, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware, USU is working to respond to the COVID 19 outbreak. The single best source and most up-to-date information about how USU is addressing this public health situation is available at www.usu.edu/covid-19. This website is continually updated with new information.  Please visit https://dps.usu.edu/emergency/covid-19/faculty-faqs for frequently asked questions specifically for faculty members.  

Move Courses Online

Utah State University will cancel classes Friday, March 13, 2020 through Tuesday, March 17, 2020 to allow faculty members time to move classes into the online learning environment.  USU will begin to offer online classes beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020. 

This transition to online course delivery is part of USU’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the campus community. 

  • In preparing to move courses to an asynchronous online format, CIDI has prepared materials to help you get started: http://cidi.usu.edu/topics/Keep_Teaching_During_Emergency. These materials will help you transition your course to assure for the best possible standard of teaching, learning, and assessment for the balance of the semester.  Also, CIDI will assign a person to each department to coordinate and work with you during this transition. 
  • If you have special needs or extenuating circumstances, you should contact Paul Barr in the Provost’s office (paul.barr@usu.edu).

Thank you for your attention and hard work related to this matter and, as a reminder, please regularly visit the USU website on COVID-19 at www.usu.edu/covid-19 for updates.

Sincerely,

Frank Galey


Email to Faculty Members on March 6, 2020

Colleagues,

Due to the recent concerns with the spread of the coronavirus abroad and new cases in other states, USU will be requesting that high-risk students self-isolate for up to 14 days, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Later today, the university will be sending a notice with more information regarding who will be asked to self-isolate. In order to minimize the impact to their academic progress, we are requesting that you provide accommodations where possible. As approved by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, AIS (the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction – CIDI) will work with you to help facilitate these accommodations. Therefore, if a student who has been requested to self-isolate is in one of your courses, you will be notified through the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and a member of the CIDI team will contact you to provide the resources that best fit your pedagogy. If you have one of the students impacted by a USU request, you may contact a member of the CIDI team at 435-797-9506 (dial line #1) to proactively request their services. 

In the event that a student requests teaching accommodations due to coronavirus health related issues and you have not been contacted by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, please refer the student to Jarrod Larsen (435-797-1844) or jarrod.larsen@usu.edu.

We appreciate your support during this dynamic time.    

Frank Galey
Provost