March 31 Message to Faculty/Staff: Updates, Reminders and Requests

To Our Faculty and Staff:

As we finish the second week of fully remote teaching, we first want to express our profound appreciation to everyone involved in that massive transition. From trainings on technology to lessons in online engagement, people managed multiple adjustments—many while caring for family as well.

Others have taken on their own added duties, from enacting COVID-19-related policy changes to covering for colleagues unable to come to campus. Again and again, we see a spirit of collaboration, mutual support and abundant empathy—all qualities of a true community.

Below please find a series of updates; a few may be familiar from earlier communications, but we still wanted to provide a quick recap:

Commencement: We expect to have to postpone commencement. We are working with our deans and student leaders to explore alternative options for celebrating the accomplishments of our graduating students.

May and Summer Courses: As we shared last week, all May term courses will be delivered remotely. We are still assessing possibilities for the summer term and will update the community once we reach a decision.

Additional Support for Employees Required to Work on Campus: We will provide additional pay and health insurance premium credits to portions of our workforce earning less than $50,000 a year for the next two months. These measures are in addition to guidance provided March 16; you can find more details about the new temporary policy in the March 30 message.

Pretenure Extensions: In light of the disruption this pandemic creates, we announced last week that most untenured faculty have the option to accept a one-year extension of the pretenure period. Please note: Faculty who wish to exercise this option must email no later than May 8 of this year to confirm their acceptance.

Research Continuity: As you recall, we have asked principal investigators involved in critical research to limit individuals on campus only to those whose duties demand their presence and, even then, to stagger their shifts and observe federal guidelines regarding social distancing. We have also asked them to submit ramp-down plans should public health developments require such action. You can find additional guidance on the Office of Research and Technology Management website.

Pass/No Pass Option for Graduate and Professional Students: The Faculty Senate Executive Committee approved this proposal yesterday, so it will proceed to the full Senate next month for action. With the Senate’s support, the university already implemented the Pass/No Pass option for undergraduates.

Tips Regarding Remote Testing: Remote education is clearly well underway: The campus is averaging about 1,700 Zoom sessions per day, with total sessions’ daily attendance above 13,000. More recently, faculty have inquired about remote administration of quizzes and tests. Given that students are now living in multiple time zones around the world, faculty first may want to consider alternatives to tests and/or the traditional in-class final exam (e.g. papers, presentations, take-home exercises such as problem sets, etc.). That said, UTech and UCITE have collaborated to provide guidance on conducting tests to meet the unique needs of the remote instructional environment; in addition, UTech has provided information regarding remote proctoring software.

Remote Teaching Resources: In the event anyone wants a refresher and/or has discovered a new need for a particular class, UTech has a resource page for online instruction.

“Zoombombing” Prevention: The news has been full of stories about malicious individuals entering Zoom sessions to spread racist and misogynistic speech and, in some instances, pornographic content. While university classes have been a frequent target, businesses and influencers also have been victims. To prevent such intrusions in classes or other Zoom-based gatherings, follow the prevention information UTech offers.

Reducing Unnecessary Zoom Costs: Because of the expenses to the university for using toll-free numbers or call-back features to participate in Zoom when (a) most cell plans do not involve additional charges for toll numbers and (b) alternative free options exist, UTech has taken steps to limit its use. For more information, visit UTech's Zoom information page.

Reducing Unnecessary Duo Costs: Similarly, Duo’s call-back feature also incurs charges to the university. Those who install the free DuoMobile application (available on Apple App or GooglePlay stores) eliminate those charges and gain a more secure experience. Go to UTech's Duo page for more information.

As always, we are very grateful for all that you do for Case Western Reserve.

Barbara R. Snyder

Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President