Vice Provost Messages

Sept 10, 2020: Instructor Update – Guidance and Answers to Your Questions

 

Dear Instructors,

Thank you all for your ongoing work into our third week of classes. I continue to receive your questions via facultydev@ku.edu, and I'm aware of other issues and concerns from the members of our faculty success design team and faculty governance.

Students, Covid-19, and Your Class

Some of you by now have interacted with students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been identified by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health as a close contact of someone who is positive. Thank you for working as quickly as possible to communicate with them and adapt courses while they are isolated or in quarantine. Students, their parents, and all of you are understandably anxious with our growing awareness of the virus in the community.

I've reached out personally to our public health officials to discuss your concerns about what to do and what to say to your class. Public health professionals are aware of our classroom configurations and our mask policy, which greatly reduce the risk of transmission in the classroom. Under current guidelines – in a classroom that maintains physical distancing, our classroom seating configuration and masking policy – health officials would not consider anyone as a close contact of a positive case from interaction in a classroom setting.

Here is some additional guidance:

  • If you have concerns about your own health, please reach out to your healthcare provider.
  • Please continue to allow our public health officials to do their job of contact tracing, and help protect student privacy by not sharing health information, unless the student has asked you to do so.
  • Please do not move your class fully online from another mode, unless officials have contacted you about a larger public health concern regarding your class. 
  • Please reiterate to students the need to self-monitor daily with CVKey, and follow the app’s instructions about whether they can come to campus. It’s an important way to positively impact the health of our entire community. Operations has arranged for kiosk monitoring staff to be stationed in campus buildings on a random basis to help support the expectation that the app and kiosks should be used as a matter of routine.
  • Some have asked if they can have students returning from quarantine or isolation present a negative test result. This is not possible from a privacy concern and not necessary from a medical standpoint. If a student has tested positive they only need to finish their isolation protocol (which includes being fever free for 72 hours without the aid of fever reducers) to be cleared for return to class. These individuals won't test negative for subsequent tests, yet they are no longer considered infectious. If the student has had to quarantine because they are a close contact, they still have to complete the quarantine period as defined by the state and county. This takes the student through the known infectious period. https://protect.ku.edu/quarantine-isolation.

The university is continuing to provide prevalence testing for targeted groups and for a sample of the KU community. Leadership is also exploring opportunities to expand testing capabilities on campus to ensure individuals who are experiencing the onset of symptoms can be tested as quickly as possible. More information will be available soon.

Instructors Testing Positive for COVID-19

If you tested positive for COVID-19, please follow the instructions of your healthcare provider or health officials. By all means, please do what is needed to take care of yourself and your family. If you are teaching an in-person course, please inform your chair or dean that you have been asked to isolate and that you will need to adjust your course. For example, if you are feeling well enough, you could transition the course to fully online for a brief period while you arrange with your chair or dean to hire a classroom technology assistant to meet your students and facilitate a video-conference with students in the classroom. If you are too ill to perform your duties, please inform your chair or dean so someone else can step in to maintain course continuity.

Please remember that the Family First Coronavirus Response Act ensures that all eligible employees (regular, temporary, full or part-time, faculty, staff or student) with active paid appointments, who are unable to work or telework due to a variety of COVID-related conditions and situations are eligible for some amount of paid leave.

Ending Class on Time

Just a quick reminder here, please do everything possible to end your classes on time. We want to make it as easy as possible for students to get to their next class, whether in-person, hybrid, or online.

I will work to offer regular messages to all instructors as the semester continues. Please send your questions to facultydev@ku.edu. This message, as well as previous messages from me, will be archived on the Faculty Development website.

Take care,

Chris

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

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Aug 27, 2020: Thank You and Updates for Your Questions

   

Dear Instructors,

Thank you.

Here we are in the first week of classes, and now your preparation is bearing fruit. I thank you for all you did to reach this point and recognize what an extraordinary achievement it was. Data from the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Center for Online and Distance Learning, and KU Information Technology show that you collectively devoted tens of thousands of person-hours in professional development over the summer in preparation for fall. Our students are now benefitting from this work as they continue their education.

In these first few days of classes, I have received questions on some important topics and want to offer guidance. 

Students Who Need to Isolate or Quarantine

It is important we continue to address the needs of our students directly affected by COVID-19. Our surveillance testing shows some students are positive for COVID-19, or are identified by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health as a close contact of someone who is positive. These individuals have been instructed to isolate or quarantine. I can understand that this situation can increase anxiety in already challenging times. Please remember, many additional measures are in place at KU to help reduce the risk of transmission and testing was undertaken in part to help individuals understand their status and take appropriate action to help protect themselves, their friends and family and the larger community.

I want to provide some clarity on procedures related to test results, and it comes down to following the guidance of public health officials and adapting courses for students:

  • If a student informs you they must miss in-person class because of a positive test or that as a close contact they have been instructed to quarantine by a public health professional, please allow our public health authorities to do their job of contact tracing. No one else must quarantine unless they are personally contacted by health authorities and told to do so. If you have concerns about your own health, please reach out to your healthcare provider and follow their instructions.
  • To protect privacy, do not share health information about a student unless they have given you permission to do so.
  • Reach out to your isolating students and assure them you will adapt the course for them in the most engaging way possible so that they may continue to make progress remotely. If you need assistance in adapting your course for a student, revisit flexteaching.ku.edu. New on the site is some sample text to reply to a student who needs an adaptation. 

Changing Course to Online

While it may feel unsettling to learn that a student needs to isolate or quarantine, our instructional spaces have been modified to better protect you and your students. Research indicates that wearing a mask and appropriately distancing from others helps mitigate the risk of contracting the virus. Class participants who have been adhering to physical distancing guidelines, as in our modified classrooms, would not be considered close contacts by either Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards.

Please do not change modality of your course unless you have been personally contacted and advised by a county health professional that it is appropriate for the circumstances. If you have any concerns about your own health, please contact your healthcare provider.

Liability and COVID-19

Some instructors have asked questions regarding protections they have against liability claims. 

Under the Kansas Tort Claims Act (K.S.A. 75-6101 et seq.), the State of Kansas assumes liability for the negligent or wrongful acts and omissions of its employees (including KU employees) who are acting within the scope of their employment. Additionally, recent Kansas legislation provides that a person conducting business shall be immune from liability for a COVID-19 claim if such person was acting pursuant to and in substantial compliance with public health directives. You can view the full bill here.

Intellectual Property and Flex Teaching

Many of you have asked about how the university's Intellectual Property policy relates to the work done to develop new online and hybrid courses due to COVID-19. The current policy adheres to KBOR regulations concerning mediated courseware. It was not written with a pandemic in mind with the need to develop courseware that allows for seamless transitions across in-person, hybrid, and fully online modes of instruction. Faculty Development and Faculty Governance will partner to clarify that the courseware developed in response to COVID-19 is owned by the creator.

Recording of Online Class Sessions

Recording your online or in-person class sessions can be useful for a number of different reasons, including allowing asynchronous participation in hybrid courses. If you are recording just for students in your class, you do not need student consent to do so, although it is a good idea to let students know you’re recording. If you are recording to share the recordings with audiences beyond your class, please visit the Flexible Teaching website for guidance for gaining consent, sharing recordings and limiting student faces/images in your recordings. I encourage you to review this information and follow the guidance to ensure you respect the privacy of your students, as well as comply with FERPA and other regulations. 

New Faculty, Staff and GTA Testing

COVID-19 testing is still underway. New faculty, staff and GTAs can visit a mobile test site set up in the Naismith Hall parking lot at 19th Street and Naismith Drive for a free walk-up COVID-19 saliva test. No appointment is necessary.

Thanks again for all you are doing to engage with our students, whether they are here in person or connecting with you and their classmates remotely.

I’ll continue to be available for your questions (please send them to facultydev@ku.edu) and I will work to offer regular messages to all instructors as the semester continues. This message as well as previous messages from me will be archived on the Faculty Development website.

Take care,

Chris

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

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Aug 20, 2020: Additional Course Logistics Info -- New Student Dashboard and more...

Instructors,

Thank you for following these updates closely. I know you have a lot of new information to track as we approach the start of the semester, and I appreciate your diligence. Below you will find additional relevant course logistics information.

New student information dashboard

The “MyStudents Dashboard” allows all KU instructors to access data visualizations about their current students. The dashboard can help you craft activities, materials and assignments that speak to the needs of an academically and socio-demographically diverse classroom. Follow this link to visit the dashboard (you must be logged into KU Anywhere VPN).

The dashboard is the product of a year-long collaboration between the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), the Office of Analytics and Institutional Research (AIR) and more than 60 faculty at KU. A podcast on Navigating the New Student Dashboard is available on the CTE website. A CTE webpage with additional pedagogical resources will be available soon.

Feel free to contact AIR’s Corinne Bannon at corinne-bannon@ku.edu with any dashboard-related questions or concerns.

Course timing, capacity and room arrangements

Ending on time

It is imperative that classes end on time to allow sufficient time for everyone to move carefully and safely between classes and access buildings with the CVKey app. Time between classes has also been increased to 15 minutes to serve this purpose. Please plan accordingly and respect this time as it will be needed for travel between classes.

Course adaptations and enrollment capacity

Many of you are adapting courses to support students who are unable to be on campus.  Students who have approved course adaptions are included in class enrollment counts, however, they do not occupy a physical seat in the class. You can allow additional students to enroll up to the physical distancing capacity of the room by increasing the enrollment capacity and using permission numbers. Please contact your department scheduling officer for assistance.

Students switching sections

Students cannot switch between course sections until they have officially moved into another section in the course management system. This ensures that room capacity in the new course section actually exists. If a student needs to temporarily attend another section due to illness, to make up missed class sessions, etc., you can support this need as long as you ensure sufficient physical distancing capacity exists.

Room layout

Please do not move or allow your students to move furniture in classrooms. Furniture is arranged to ensure physical distancing. Additionally, furniture must remain in the classroom in which it is placed. Please note that students can turn in their seats (without moving them) to speak to their classmates in order to facilitate in-class discussion and collaboration.

Additional safety & syllabus info

In order to assist you in sharing/reinforcing relevant information with your students, attached are two slides you may wish to incorporate into your first class session. These slides (and many other helpful ideas for syllabi) are also available at https://flexteaching.ku.edu/syllabus-language.

Again, thank you for your cooperation and hard work as we prepare for this unprecedented semester.

Take care,

Chris

 

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

 

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

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Aug 12, 2020: PLS communicate distance learning platform information to students

Instructors,

A tremendous amount of work went into scheduling courses for the fall semester with the goal of providing as much clarity as possible regarding course meeting dates, times, locations and delivery modes. However, a technical issue resulted in all online class components being labeled as “ONLNE ZOOM” which caused confusion. This issue has now been resolved by indicating online components of classes, whether fully online or hybrid, are generically “ONLINE” to emphasize instructors have discretion as to what online platform to use.  Instructors can also employ real-time or asynchronous instructional methods. (See the links below for resources related to alternating cohort courses and in-person instruction options.)

To reiterate, student course schedules will not reflect each course’s platform (e.g. Zoom), and it is imperative that you tell your students how online class times will be facilitated. As in past semesters, instructors are responsible for creating any Zoom rooms, Microsoft Teams Rooms, etc., or setting up asynchronous activities in other platforms and sending the relevant links to students.

If your class only meets once per week and you are using an alternating cohort schedule (i.e. group A will meet on odd weeks and group B will meet on even weeks), sections were not created for each cohort. In these situations, you will need to split the students into cohorts and communicate group assignments to students.

To help ensure students retain this important information, we ask that you clearly reiterate and clarify course logistics for students during the initial class meeting. We also ask that you post the course logistics information on each course’s syllabus and in the learning management system (e.g. Blackboard).

Guidance on safety measures

Physical safety

Campus classrooms will be open starting Monday, Aug. 17. I highly encourage you to visit your classrooms before the first day of class so that you can practice and plan for the uniqueness of this semester. To gain access to buildings, you will need to use the CVKey app. While you are there you will notice physical distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) measures that have been implemented this summer. Plexiglass barriers and other safety equipment have been installed in most classrooms.

Study Spaces

KU has erected outdoor tents that students can use when participating in online classes and studying. We are also in the process of identifying existing common spaces and specific rooms in buildings that can be used for these purposes. This work is still in progress, but an online campus map at rockcha.lk/study-spaces shows this information. If students ask you about available study space, please direct them to this site. (It is recommended you use Firefox to view this site.)

Help and Resources

If you have a concern about personal protective equipment measures or the distancing layout of any of your teaching spaces, please contact KU Operations at kuoperations@ku.edu. Someone will follow up with you as soon as possible.

Additionally, if you have a concern about any IT-related equipment, please contact your departmental IT support staff.

Finally, the Center for Teaching Excellence has collected information on alternating cohort courses and ideas for creating online options for in-person courses.

I want to acknowledge that all of you are working very hard to prepare for this unprecedented semester. Your commitment to your students and to KU is seen and it is appreciated. I am grateful to you for all you do.

Take care,

Chris

 

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

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Aug 10, 2020: Start-of-term syllabus tactics and mask guidance

   

Dear colleagues,

As you continue preparing for fall classes, we want to share syllabus strategies and language that may help you communicate with your students this fall.

We encourage you to:

  • Upload your syllabus to your course Blackboard/Canvas site so all your students know there is at least one place they can go to find the syllabus.
  • Articulate your course learning outcomes in the syllabus so students know exactly what they need to achieve this term.
  • Consider placing new elements in your syllabus you may have not considered before, including specific language about safety precautions in the classroom. Masks are required, and our guidance for enforcement procedures is below. The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has a great resource on the FlexTeaching website, including sample language related to COVID-19.

Suggested syllabus language regarding masks:

“To protect all of us, everyone must wear a mask in the classroom as required by the Protect KU Pledge and by University policy. Violations of the mask policy in classrooms are treated as academic misconduct. If you come to class without a mask, I will ask you to put one on. If you do not put on a mask when asked, you will have to leave class. Violations will be reported, and consequences will follow, up to and including suspension from the course.”

Guidance regarding masks:

It is considered academic misconduct if a student is not wearing a mask in a classroom. We ask that you address it and report it by following these steps:

  • First, ask the student to put on a mask. If they do not, they need to leave the room. KU Operations will work to provide instructors with a few masks to have ready if a student forgets theirs, but it is not an instructor’s responsibility to have masks always available. If a student refuses to leave the room, instructors may dismiss class. If you must dismiss a class, please do what is possible and reasonable to make up for it online.
  • Please report incidents at unmasked.ku.edu by leaving your name and email and marking the box "student in academic context". A staff member will follow up with you if necessary, and the case will be turned over to your respective chair or dean for them to follow through with established academic misconduct procedures. Repeated refusals by a student may lead to suspension from the course. 
  • Human Resources Management, in partnership with Faculty Development, will follow through to assist departments and schools if needed. All parties want to ensure that instructors are not treated unfairly in evaluations by students, colleagues, or supervisors for helping enforce this policy and protecting everyone's health.

Please note: Students who fail to wear a mask, but who DO comply when asked to wear one, or students who leave the room without incident, will receive educational notices asking for compliance for the benefit of everyone’s health. Guidance on this procedure is forthcoming to chairs and deans.

Respectfully,

Chris

 

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

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Aug 5, 2020: Guidance on Grading Attendance for Fall 2020

Colleagues,

Class attendance policies can increase student engagement and many of us use attendance points in calculating the final grades in our courses. This fall, using attendance as part of grading will be complicated by a number of factors that make synchronous participation in lectures, activities and exams difficult for some students. These factors include:

  • Some students’ limited access to adequate technology.
  • Time zone differences for students participating remotely, especially international students.
  • Inability to attend classes in-person because of public health directives (quarantine).

University Senate Regulations are clear that instructors control attendance and grading policies for their courses. This semester, however, students are facing many unique challenges and we encourage you to take attendance not for grading, but as a way to monitor student engagement so you can reach out and help students who might be struggling. Consistent class attendance, whether in-person or online, is an important indication of engagement and student success. However, we do not want to penalize students who are facing health, technology or other challenges to synchronous participation.

Students who are ill or who are taking steps to protect their own health or the health of others should be given an excused absence (no doctor’s note required) from in-person class activities if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are following state or local quarantine guidelines. I encourage you to include clear health and attendance guidance for students in your syllabi. I have included some suggested language you can use or adapt.

The following is suggested language you can add to your course syllabus to communicate COVID-related attendance guidance:

Please use the CVKey app for self-screening to help determine if you should attend in-person class activities. If you choose not to use the app or do not have a compatible device, please use the paper health assessment form. The app and the paper form are available at cvkey.ku.edu.

You will be given an excused absence from in-person class activities (no doctor’s note required) if you answer yes to any of the questions in the app or on the paper form. Symptoms and other guidance in the app and on the paper form may change based on new federal, state and local health recommendations and requirements.

It is important that you spend the necessary time working in this course to achieve the expected outcomes by the end of the term. If you face challenges to fully participating at any time during the semester, please let me know, and please contact me if you expect to miss class. I am available and ready to support your success. Additionally, if you need to report an extended illness or serious accident, please contact Student Support and Case Management at course-adapt@ku.edu or 785-864-4060. A case manager will send email notifications to your instructor(s) on your behalf. When you are able, you will need to follow up with your professors to coordinate a temporary arrangement regarding missed instruction and coursework.

Faculty colleagues at the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and staff at the Center for Online and Distance Learning (CODL) can assist you in strategizing ways to adjust the way you measure your engagement with students away from the traditional taking of attendance for a grade in class. KU’s new FlexTeaching website also has information on attendance and student engagement.

Qwickly Attendance Tool

With a mix of in-person, hybrid and online classes, knowing who is showing up and engaged is harder than ever. KU is expanding the capabilities of Qwickly Attendance, a tool you may have used in the past to manually take attendance in Blackboard. Now with Qwickly Attendance, you can allow students to check in themselves, whether they are attending a class in-person or online. Qwickly Attendance keeps track of attendance throughout the semester and provides a dashboard where you can see information at a glance. Students can also track their own attendance in each class.

More information about Qwickly Attendance is available on KU’s Blackboard website.

Responsibilities of Students

Students should contact their instructor(s) directly to report an absence. However, students who need to report an extended illness or serious accident should contact Student Support and Case Management at course-adapt@ku.edu or 785-864-4060. A case manager will send email notifications to the student’s instructor(s) on the student’s behalf. When they are able, the student will need to follow up with professors to coordinate a temporary arrangement regarding missed instruction and coursework. Please see studentaffairs.ku.edu/student-emergencies.

A Collaborative Effort

The guidance I’ve included here on attendance and student engagement was developed following input from a number of different groups that were asked in early July what guidance the University should provide instructors when dealing with the challenges they will face regarding attendance in fall 2020. Groups included the Faculty Rights, Privileges and Responsibilities committee of Faculty Senate; the Teaching and Learning Design Team; the Faculty Success Design Team; Academic Success; CTE and CODL.

Thank you for your attention and input.

Sincerely,

Chris

 

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

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July 30, 2020: Process for Receiving Student Requests for Online Course Adaptions

     

Dear Instructors (Faculty, GTAs, and other instructional staff), 

As you begin preparing your course for the fall, we know many of you are also thinking through the various scenarios and concerns that may arise amongst your students during the semester. There may be a number of circumstances that lead students to request an online adaptation to an existing in-person or hybrid course, including personal situations before or after the start of the semester.

  • Before the semester begins, it might be possible to get a student into a different course or section of a course that allows them to continue making progress toward their degree in the online format that they need.
  • After the semester begins, a student may have to leave campus because they are sick or need to isolate or quarantine, leading them to request an online adaptation to your in-person or hybrid course.

The various combinations of issues and solutions can be complicated, so Academic Success and Student Affairs have partnered to establish a process to facilitate communication among students, advisors, faculty and other staff to receive adaption requests and work to find the best way possible for us to help students continue their progress. 

An information sheet for instructors, GTAs, and departments about the course adaptations process can be found online.

Students who need a course adaptation will be directed to complete a course adaptations request beginning August 3. The info sheet and website also provide insight as to how students are being asked to communicate absences and the additional support available through the Student Support and Case Management team.

Bottom line is we are here to help you in preparing to provide online adaptations to your courses. CTE’s Flexible Teaching site is a great resource to assist you in thinking through possible adaptations.  Beyond that, no action is needed on your part in the adaptation process, until you are contacted through the adaptation request process.

Thank you for all that you do to support our students! 

 

J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development

Jcbrown2@ku.edu

 

 

Susan Klusmeier

Vice Provost for Academic Success

susan.klusmeier@ku.edu

 

 

University of Kansas

Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring

facultydev@ku.edu    785-864-6489

1450 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 145

Lawrence, KS 66045

 

 


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