March 9 Message to Faculty

Dear Colleagues,

To follow up on my message to the community regarding the institutional response to the novel coronavirus and associated COVID-19 disease, I want faculty to know how Academic Affairs is responding to the situation and what actions you are expected to take. At present, there are no suspected cases of coronavirus in our community and no confirmed cases in Minnesota. However, it is sensible that we prepare for the potential effect COVID-19 may have on our institution, and to take appropriate steps to protect the health and well-being of our campus community.

The following courses of action are based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a review of the policies at other institutions, the recommendations of the newly formed CSB/SJU Coordinated Pandemic Response Team, and our own campus response to previous disease outbreaks. I have consulted with the presidents, the Academic Affairs leadership team, and faculty leadership on these steps.

Study Abroad

Academic Affairs is monitoring the situation abroad closely to ensure the health and safety of our students. Currently, we do not have any spring semester study abroad programs in countries that the CDC has designated as “Warning Level 3.” Kevin Clancy, the Director of the Center for Global Education, is in regular communication with students and their parents to share health and safety information. Should any program be suspended, arrangements will be made for the safe return of students and faculty on abroad programs, and for the ability of these students to complete their studies online. Kevin will be sending a separate message to faculty with more detailed information about CGE’s response.

Student Attendance

Students who have the have been potentially exposed to the virus or are demonstrating symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should not come to class.  If a student informs you that they have these symptoms, please send the student to the health clinic. Under no circumstances should anyone who is ill be allowed to justify class attendance through the use of a facemask. Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Academic Affairs asks that all instructors modify their course attendance policies to allow students to miss class without penalty if they have been potentially exposed to the virus or are demonstrating symptoms associated with COVID-19. Faculty should not require students to produce doctor’s notes or other documentation at this time. Instructors should treat students as if they are experiencing a health issue that prevents them from attending class, and provide opportunities for make-up work. Such assignments, of course, should not be punitive or excessive in nature.

To ensure uniformity and fairness across departments, and to minimize confusion, decisions regarding cancellation of classes will be made by the Provost, rather than by individual faculty or departments.  High absentee rates will not necessarily trigger cancellation of classes, so plan accordingly.

Preparations to Move Classes Online if Necessary

The need for teaching/learning continuity makes it prudent to consider all of our technological options including the resources available to maintain a class online. In the event of suspended campus operations, Academic Affairs will provide the resources to enable instructional continuity through online delivery of courses. At the present time, we encourage faculty to deliver courses as they normally would. However, circumstances can change rapidly, so we are asking all faculty to prepare for the possibility of online delivery this semester through existing platforms such as Canvas, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft OneDrive. IT Services has created a webpage with resources to assist faculty in course continuity: https://www.csbsju.edu/it-services/course_continuity and work continuity:  https://www.csbsju.edu/it-services/work_continuity. In addition, IT Services is providing training for faculty on how to manage their courses online using these platforms, and the training schedule is available on their website: https://www.csbsju.edu/instructional-technology/instructional-design/technology-training/training

Faculty who do not have access to a laptop or to the necessary equipment to deliver course content from a remote location are asked to contact Casey Gordon, the Director of IT Services, for assistance. The potential for student and faculty absences or class closures require that we have alternate means of delivering course learning and I am grateful for your attention in preparing for this.

Faculty Travel

All faculty members returning from a country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Advisory or CDC Level 2 Travel Advisory must self-monitor for 14 days before returning to campus. According to the CDC, self-monitoring means that people “should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing” and to contact their health care provider with any concerns. Faculty using institutional resources to travel to a Level 2 or 3 location must get approval from Academic Affairs prior to traveling.

Faculty traveling from other locations in which there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 are asked to consider self-monitoring for 14 days prior to their return to campus, and to notify Academic Affairs of these plans and make arrangements for alternative or online instruction during this period. In all cases in which faculty believe they may have been exposed to the virus, they should self-quarantine for 14 days and notify Academic Affairs.

Faculty who have been pre-approved for Academic Travel Funds or FDRC travel funds may consult with the dean of the faculty about re-directing those funds to other development activities if they are reconsidering domestic or international travel.

In a context in which travel recommendations are updated frequently, Academic Affairs may impose additional restrictions as necessary.

Preventative Steps

CSB/SJU has taken steps to enhance campus cleaning schedules of surfaces and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact (e.g. desks, door knobs, and computer keyboards). We ask you, in turn, to encourage your students to observe proper hygiene. Persons should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue in the trash after using it. Frequent hand washing with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing, and the use of the sanitizing hand cleaners are encouraged. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth to limit the spread of germs.

Academic Affairs is working closely with campus and public health officials to stay informed of changing developments and to develop plans to prevent interruptions for students. I want to thank you for your commitment to the safety and education of our students, and particularly for your empathy and kindness toward students who are far apart from their families.

Further information about the virus and the CSB/SJU’s response is available at: www.csbsju.edu/covid-19. This webpage will be updated regularly.

Sincerely,

Richard