Ohio University

Faculty alternative teaching arrangements survey

Published: June 29, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with faculty on June 29, 2020.

Dear Colleagues:

This email contains information for faculty, staff, and graduate students with teaching obligations to request alternative teaching arrangements for fall 2020.

Requests should be submitted on the linked form by July 6, 2020.

For the past few weeks, the Academic Scenario and Curriculum Planning Work Group has been working closely with the University Registrar and the Office of University Planning as they study how to safely deliver our curriculum this fall. Guidance for physical distancing and evolving understanding of the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19) have challenged our understanding of available classroom and learning space. What we have learned is that safe occupancy reduces our available space dramatically, and in most cases, to less than half of typical capacity. In addition, evidence suggests that smaller classes reduce risk (30 students or fewer), not just to limit transmission of the virus, but also to decrease the impact of quarantine if a member of a class tests positive. While all campuses, colleges, and departments/schools have begun discussions about fall, additional guidance is provided below to help safely reconcile instructor and instructional needs with available spaces. 

I write to ask you to help departments, schools, and colleges address an important factor in planning for fall semester: the health and safety needs of our faculty, staff, and graduate students with fall teaching responsibilities. I have heard from many of you individually and also through Faculty Senate that those with personal or household increased risk factors desire alternative teaching arrangements for fall. While we know that our students value a face-to-face experience, we also know that we cannot offer all of our classes in the typical manner and safely fit within available space. We plan to allocate available instructional space to those courses that are best offered face to face while offering an option for remote or hybrid instruction for instructors who may be or live with household members at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or have other COVID-19 related needs. 

Faculty, graduate students, and staff with fall teaching responsibilities may request alternative teaching arrangements due to COVID-19 based on the following reasons:

1) Qualified Disability: Instructors with a disability covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) who wish to request alternative teaching arrangements or other reasonable accommodation should complete the linked form. The Office of University Accessibility will work with the instructor through an expedited process.

2) Increased-Risk Exemption Request: Instructors who themselves or whose household member is identified as “at increased risk” or as ”might be at increased risk” for severe illness by the CDC (older adults, people of any age with certain underlying health conditions, or people who need extra precautions) should complete the linked form to request alternative teaching arrangements.

  • Note: CDC guidelines related to increased risk of severe illness have recently been updated based on new evidence, including the addition of several new categories (e.g., pregnancy, lower obesity threshold, children with complex health conditions) and the division of underlying health conditions into “at increased risk” or “might be at increased risk” of severe illness. Please check https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html.
  • The CDC may update its information at any time in response to evolving evidence. Instructors are encouraged to monitor the CDC webpage to determine whether they meet current guidelines for increased risk. 

3) Other COVID-Related Request: Instructors who do not have a qualified disability, do not meet the CDC’s definition of people who are at increased risk for severe illness or live in the same household as someone who is at increased risk, but have other COVID-19 related reasons to request alternative teaching arrangements (e.g., childcare issues, caretaker for an older person not a member of the same household) should complete the form contained in the link above.

For fullest consideration, complete the linked form by July 6, 2020. If your personal situation changes after July 6, please inform your chair or director as soon as possible.

NOTE: Please do not use the hyperlinked form, above, to request alternative work arrangements that are not teaching-related. In that circumstance you are encouraged to contact your chair, director, or supervisor as soon as possible to discuss options.

Chairs and directors already have been working with their faculty and with the Academic Scenario and Curriculum Planning Work Group to identify which courses should remain face-to-face to meet their learning outcomes, and which could be effectively taught in hybrid or remote modalities. The information you provide in this survey will help your department chair or school director and dean’s office match individual faculty needs with our students’ needs. Your request will be reviewed by University Accessibility Services, Human Resources, and the Provost’s Office to ensure that any ADA accommodation requests are directed to OUA. All requests, whether related to qualified disability, increased risk categories, or other COVID-19-related concerns will then be shared with your school director/department chair and college. Your personal health information or that of a member of your household will NOT be shared with your Chair/Director or your Dean. Additional medical documentation may be required to evaluate a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (category 1, above). Additional information may be requested to understand and support requests based on increased risk factors (category 2, above) or other COVID-19-related concerns (category 3, above).
Once an individual request is submitted, this information will be compiled and sent to the appropriate department/school and college. Departmental plans for course modality and instructor assignments will be finalized in consultation with faculty and uploaded to the Registrar in mid-July. Final classroom space assignments will be made by July 31. Students will be notified of any changes to their schedule on August 3.

We will continue to monitor the pandemic as cases rise across the country, and we will update this planning process as necessary in response. Our students’ educational success is in your capable hands. Thank you for the tremendous effort you are making on their behalf.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Sayrs
Executive Vice President and Provost