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COVID-19 Instructional Continuity

March 9, 2020
Dear Colleagues,
 
After careful review of our local situation and following consultation with health professionals, we have assessed that the risk of the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission associated with classroom instruction remains low. We will continue to monitor and assess the risk, but currently, there is no reason for us to suspend ordinary instructional activity; in-person classroom meetings will be under normal operations.
 
The Senate leadership and academic administration have been working together on contingency plans should the COVID-19 impact our campus. The plans anticipate different levels of impact ranging from individual students or instructors who are sick and/or quarantined, and unable to attend classes, to complete closure of the campus.
 
In general, our principles are:
  • Placing primacy on your safety and the safety of your students;
  • Ensuring student completion of coursework in a timely manner;
  • Equitable treatment of students; and,
  • Use of technologies that are supported by the campus, in particular CatCourses and Zoom.
 
The application of these principles to COVID-19 related disruptions will require all of us to be flexible with deadlines, types of assignments, and modes of instructional delivery. In the meantime, we strongly encourage all instructors to do the following:
 
  • Talk with your students and TAs about the possibility of COVID-19 disruptions and assure them that we are prioritizing their safety and the completion of the classes. Explain that this may require the types of flexibility discussed above.
 
  • Determine a course of action for your class should you, a student, or the entire class need to participate remotely.
 
  • Familiarize yourself and your students with the functionalities of CatCourses and Zoom that may need to be used to deliver course content. The Office of Information Technology has established a website to guide you in the appropriate use of these technologies. The Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning will be available for consultation.
 
Should it be necessary, the Senate has approved a policy to be used when the Provost and the Senate Chair agree there is an emergency necessitating suspension of normal instructional operations. We will inform you if and when we are invoking the policy. The policy is available here .
 
We know you will have concerns about the welfare of your families, staff, and your research. UC Merced has established a website for COVID-19 related information and resources. The site also includes a question function that will be monitored to direct your questions to the appropriate experts.
 
Some additional resources you may find helpful include:
 
We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and work with campus partners to ensure you have the resources necessary for instructional continuity. We realize these are times of uncertainty and concern and we thank you for your patience and wisdom in navigating these challenges.
 
Gregg Camfield
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
 
Tom Hansford
Academic Senate Chair