Even with the Employer’s Framework for a Staged Transition to Increased on-Campus Activity, there continue to be considerable unknowns about returning to campus this fall, particularly with respect to course delivery. The Employer has advised us that individual “units” will decide which courses will be delivered face-to-face and which will be delivered remotely.
Each college is approaching course delivery differently. While some are respecting the choices of faculty to not teach face-to-face this fall, others are mandating how courses will be delivered. Some colleges have made clear statements about fall teaching that allow faculty to plan and prepare. A number of colleges, however, have provided no information, or have provided it in ways that create confusion, frustration, and additional work. The USFA has requested that the Employer direct Deans to provide information about course delivery. For example, once students have registered in a class that is designated as “in person,” with the building and the room number specified, will the instructor be required to provide an alternative format of the course? USFA has been assured that there is no obligation for instructors to offer a “hybrid” course or two versions of a course, but individual units may have different expectations. Is there an expectation to “pivot” in the case of the need to self-isolate? Does the Dean/Executive Director intend to permit faculty to use their own judgment about what modifications to the delivery of their course might be called for? We understand that students suffering from “Long COVID” will be accommodated with extensions, extra time, and so on. Have you been informed of the expectations regarding requests for accommodation on medical or other grounds? If you do not know the answers to these and related questions by now, you should request information from your college and let us know whether you receive it.
Even with information from colleges, some of you will still be concerned with returning to face-to-face teaching this fall. Vaccines are not mandated, physical distancing in many classrooms and common areas will not be possible, ventilation is questionable, and it is possible that cases of COVID-19 will occur. If you feel strongly that you should not teach face-to-face, make that known to your Department Head and/or Dean and keep the USFA informed.
In addition, the Employer is putting in place a Safe Return Workplace Assessment Process, which specifies facilitations that involve the USFA working with the Dean or Executive Director and Faculty Relations regarding workplace strategies and procedures, if a situation arises where an issue cannot be resolved by the supervisor. If you have concerns about this process, get in touch with the USFA.