Academic continuity and faculty working remotely
March 16, 2020
As we continue to adapt to the COVID-19 public health crisis, we are taking additional measures to reduce the number of community members on our campuses. Increasing social distance helps protect us and the broader community from the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, it is crucial that we ensure academic continuity and that you remain fully engaged in our mission of education, research and scholarship, clinical work, and service as expressed in our email from March 5th.
Prepare technology for teaching remotely
As you know, all undergraduate courses and most courses in our graduate and professional schools need to be delivered remotely by March 25th, and for some programs, by March 23rd. By now, most schools should have made plans to teach all their undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses remotely in one form or another. TTS has training available to help you prepare to continue your classes online this week and next week. To support you, the university has arranged the following:
- TTS staff will be on campus to conduct training sessions for how to teach with Zoom.
- Please find the schedule of training sessions at https://it.tufts.edu/training-working-and-teaching-remotely.
- Drop-in sessions are also available in Medford and Boston this week for those who may need help getting started with these tools, if possible, please bring your laptop to the drop-in sessions. All locations are in the schedule of training sessions.
- TTS stands ready if you need help or have additional questions or concerns involving educational technology, including Canvas. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for training and assistance.
- If you do not have a laptop, please take your desktop computer home for your use in teaching remotely. If you need help to do so, please check the resources available in your department and school.
- Additional training sessions (both in individual and group settings) can be set up throughout the remainder of the spring semester, as needed. Please contact email@example.com for additional sessions or needs.
- Revisit the recommended actions from the March 5th email about ensuring academic continuity. These include:
- Familiarizing/re-familiarizing yourself with Canvas. (TTS Educational Technology Services has posted tips, guidance, and support for moving classes online, noting that TUSM faculty should continue to use TUSK.)
- Making syllabi and all course materials available online.
- Creating and regularly updating a grade book in Canvas and developing a back-up plan for computing and submitting course grades.
- Please check the resources made available within your school as well. Many schools have developed their own training to support their faculty.
Work remotely whenever possible
Unless you have been designated as essential (for example, those of you expected to continue fulfilling patient and animal care responsibilities) or need to attend in-person training for the transition to distance education, please take steps to be able to do your work remotely as soon as possible. While the campuses will remain officially open, and while faculty who need to attend to urgent business are allowed on campus until further notice, we urge you to minimize campus presence and refrain from traveling between various locations on campus or between campuses. Much of the university staff will be working remotely as well.
We will be continually assessing the situation and will advise when all faculty and staff can fully return to campus.
- Remembering that all faculty members are responsible for their own courses, please send to your department chair and dean as soon as possible your plan for the continued teaching of your courses. If you have already submitted your plan, thank you.
- Faculty members who conduct laboratory and human subjects research should refer to the email with the subject line “COVID-19: Ramp Down of Research” (sent by Caroline Genco on March 13th). Because the situation may change rapidly, please monitor carefully all communications from the administration. Faculty who conduct theoretical/computational research and scholarship will continue that work. Faculty will also continue to perform their service activities to their departments, their schools, the university, their professional societies, and the nation, to the extent they can do so remotely.
- Also, revisit any additional guidance you have received from your dean.
Information for caregivers
We understand that many schools and day care centers have temporarily closed or moved to online education due to this emergency. Faculty members who do not accrue sick time should keep their chairs and deans apprised if they require time to care for family members and need support in completing their teaching tasks.
In the event that you need medical care, we recommend that you reach out to your primary care provider or seek care through a local emergency room/urgent care provider. Additionally, the Tufts Employee Assistance Program is a valuable resource for mental health support, counseling, logistical support, or any similar need that may arise during this period. This service is free for all faculty and can be a great asset during emergencies.
Illness and self-quarantine
If you are ill, we ask that you refrain from working and use sick time instead, if applicable to you. Faculty members who do not accrue sick time should keep their chairs and deans apprised if they fall ill and need support in completing their teaching tasks. If you are a faculty member and have questions about sick time or medical leave, please contact the Faculty Affairs Office in your school.
Please note: If you have a case of, or have been directly exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with, COVID-19, you should contact your physician for guidance, report it to your dean, and report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. More guidance will follow on how and when to report instances of COVID-19.
We will continue to keep you informed as we have additional announcements. Please expect further communications from your dean according to the specific needs and circumstances of your schools (e.g., clinical faculty may be called to campus). Please also continue to visit go.tufts.edu/coronavirus, where you will find guidance on precautions, medical assistance, support and mental health services, and links to reliable sources of information.
In all of this, we are working to keep the well-being of our community at the forefront of our decisions. We greatly appreciate your patience as we make these changes and adjust to the current situation, and as we do our best to support you in your work on behalf of our students. And as before, we thank you for your dedication and commitment to excellence in teaching, research and scholarship, clinical work, and service, even as these activities will take a very different form under these uncertain and challenging circumstances.
Provost and Senior Vice President
President, Tufts University Faculty Senate