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Dear Faculty Colleagues,

By now you have all received notification of the college’s response and action plan to COVID-19. I write now to follow up on some of the details as they pertain to faculty work over the next several weeks, and to offer resources and support as we prepare together to complete the semester, whether that be in normal, face-to-face instruction or in a remote format. Before we dive in, let me reiterate that no one who is part of a population identified as being at greater risk by the CDC should compromise their health or HIPPA-protected privacy to continue to work on campus. Faculty and teaching staff who art part of at risk populations may use their discretion to begin teaching remotely.

To quickly summarize, here is the revised academic schedule for the next three weeks, assuming we continue to have no confirmed cases of the virus on campus:

  • March 16-20: Wofford holds in-person classes on campus as usual
  • March 23-27: Extended spring break begins, classes canceled (students depart campus; faculty prepare for the possibility of remote instruction. More on this below.)
  • March 30-April 3: Second week of extended spring break
  • April 6: Classes resume (in-person or remote)

Senior staff will carefully monitor local conditions regarding COVID-19 during the extended spring break in order to give timely notice to the college community about the form in which instruction will resume on April 6.

Preparation for teaching remotely will vary according to discipline and take time, thoughtfulness and professional development support to accomplish effectively. For this reason, we are asking faculty to use the week of March 23-27 as dedicated time to prepare for remote teaching. During this week we will offer additional workshops on Moodle Forums, Zoom and other tools to support your adapted learning goals. At this time, we anticipate that faculty and staff will continue to have access to campus during the time that students are away. (However, if you are sick or have an underlying health condition that makes you especially vulnerable, by all means stay home.) Wofford’s Center for Innovation in Learning will also be taking the lead in preparing faculty to teach remotely by organizing important how-to discussions on practical pedagogy on Monday, March 23 rd. These will be discussions about how to reconsider course design to promote student learning in a remote environment. The CIL will structure them around themes that allow us to brainstorm together, talk through concerns, and work collaboratively moving forward. The planned discussion topics on March 23 rd include:

  • Class discussions and in-class group work in an electronic format (9:00-10:00 am, Olin 207A)
  • Adapting assignments (10:30-11:30 am, Olin 207A)
  • Managing exams remotely (1:00-2:00 pm, Olin 207A)
  • Handling labs remotely (2:30-3:30 pm, RMSC 121)

The Provost's Office is currently creating a web page dedicated to supporting faculty in teaching remotely. It will contain tips and helpful resources for teaching in these different circumstances. We will send all faculty a notification when the site is ready.

The Sandor Teszler Library is developing a plan for continuity of services as well. Reference and research support will continue to be available, either in person or via Zoom. In addition to this, the library offers a chat reference service that is available to students and faculty twenty-four hours a day.

As we retool our syllabi, assignments and teaching methods, the goal will be to start from desired outcomes, key learning goals, and best pedagogical practice in considering necessary adjustments to course design that will allow you to meet those outcomes and goals, given the constraints of being remote. I am confident that the electronic tools at our disposal, the opportunity for training and professional development in online teaching, the wisdom and expertise of our colleagues in the CIL and your own experience, compassion and knowledge of your students’ learning needs will equip us well, should the need to teach remotely become a reality.

One practical aside as we consider adapting our courses to a remotely-instructed format: for any synchronous online class sessions (i.e., through Zoom), it will be important to continue meeting with your classes at the same days and times listed in the course schedule. For accreditation purposes, it will also be important that we maintain the normal number of contact hours for the course, within reason. For example, a 3-credit hour class that offers 3 hours of in-class meeting time per week should translate to offering 3 hours of remote synchronous or asynchronous instruction per week.

If you plan to travel at some point during the break, please keep my office informed of your plans. I advise you also to pay close attention to the websites of the WHO and CDC for information on the geographic spread of COVID-19. I strongly urge you to avoid travel to regions of the U.S. and other countries that are experiencing large outbreaks. Please watch your email and the college’s website for updates and information about the virus and the college’s response, which may change to adapt to local conditions.

Lastly, let me reiterate the importance of kindness, grace and flexibility during a time that can bring higher levels of anxiety and uncertainty for many in our community. Please be as flexible as you can regarding due dates, possible technology snafus, etc. We will all be doing something new, and we will need each others’ support as we navigate a new challenge together. The Academic Affairs team stands ready to assist, should you have questions or need guidance. And I cannot end without expressing my sincere gratitude and admiration for the incredible work all of you do every day with our students, and for the commitment you bring to carrying out Wofford’s mission and completing the semester under these difficult circumstances. Thank you sincerely for your care, hard work and commitment to our students and their success.

Best regards,

Mike Sosulski, PhD