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Faculty/Staff COVID-19 Update: March 19, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I want to thank our Active Response Team for the many hours they continue to commit to guiding decisions related to our response to COVID-19. I also want to thank Dr. Margaret Annunziata and her team for helping to pull together the following critical information as we prepare to resume classes online starting Monday, March 23, 2020. I ask that we each do our part to stay informed of the evolving changes and strategies being implemented. We can best support each other and our students when we build an awareness of what’s happening across the institution, within our own areas and beyond.

We continue to place the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community at the forefront of our decision-making. Guidance from federal, state, and local authorities to help slow the spread of COVID-19 influences all of these decisions.

Please read the following updates carefully. Be aware that information is changing rapidly and we will continue to provide updates as we have additional information. If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this email, or any other concerns that have arisen, please communicate directly with your Associate Dean. The academic leadership team is available to support you and will work together to address your concerns and provide the support needed so that we can continue to fulfill our mission.

Classes resume Monday, March 23, 2020:

  1. Beginning second 8-week classes

    1. All second 8-week classes will begin on Monday, March 23, 2020. Messaging to students is directing them to log into Moodle on Monday to get specific information related to their classes.  If the course contains face-to-face components that are delayed, this should be indicated and displayed prominently within your Moodle course site.

    2. Census dates for second 8-week classes are being adjusted. However, because students are likely to experience challenges with internet connectivity and other issues related to COVID-19, there may be an increase in no-shows prior to the adjusted census date. In an effort to accurately determine whether students have decided not to take the class as planned or whether their absence is due to COVID-19 issues, it is imperative that each instructor reach out to students who have not accessed the Moodle course site and completed the entry assignment by Wednesday, March 25. Please ask students to communicate their intention to continue in the course. In addition to emailing students, please post a statement prominently at the top of the Moodle course homepage asking students to communicate with you if  they are experiencing issues and need additional time to complete the course entry assignment, or if they have decided to withdraw from the class. Email communication may be used in lieu of course entry assignments to demonstrate course entry in these extenuating circumstances. However, it is necessary that you print/save such correspondence so that we can include it with compliance documentation related to the appropriate course.

    3. At this time, there will be no face-to-face class meetings; all instruction will be delivered online. For classes that have components requiring face-to-face meetings, these meetings will take place once social distancing directives have been reduced or removed and on-campus classes can be resumed. While we cannot currently confirm the timeframe for these changes, updates to these expectations will be provided as soon as additional information is available.

  2. Ongoing classes (full semester classes)

    1. Thanks to each of you for working so diligently to move classes previously meeting in a face-to-face modality to provide online instruction. We recognize that this has been a heavy lift and appreciate you adapting to the ever-changing educational landscape resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as this was not what you expected at the outset of the spring semester, students are also having to adapt to a new normal and in many cases do not have the resources to engage in a fully online course. Because of this, it is critical that we maintain fluidity in dealing with individual circumstances and find solutions when students are unable to complete online assignments in a digital format.  Please consider alternatives that you may otherwise not allow, such as providing assignments that may be completed using personal devices in the absence of a computer.

    2. Face-to-face class meetings are currently suspended; therefore, any course component that cannot be delivered virtually will be delayed until such time as students are permitted to return to campus. Please be aware that we will continue to share information as it becomes available; however, at this time, there is not an anticipated date when return to campus will occur. It is possible that this will result in some class end dates being extended beyond the end of spring semester to allow for face-to-face requirements to be met. In other cases, students may be assigned a grade of Incomplete to permit them to complete outstanding course requirements beyond the last date of the semester. This is currently being addressed by the NC Community College System Office and will be communicated as decisions are made and shared with colleges.

  3. Classes that are difficult or unable to move to online format

    1. For classes that require hands-on, face-to-face engagement for all or a portion of the course, such as Cosmetology, Welding, Automotive, health care clinicals, work-based learning, and similar courses, the face-to-face meetings are currently suspended. As addressed above, any course component that cannot be delivered virtually will be delayed until such time as students are permitted to return to campus. Make up time for these face-to-face meetings will be scheduled in accordance with emerging NCCCS guidelines.

Availability of resources:

  1. Computer labs

    1. At this time, computer labs and other physical, on campus resources are not available.  However, this will be re-evaluated and may change if it is determined that access can be provided safely and without increasing risk to students, faculty, and staff.  Please work with students on alternate methods of completing coursework if the student indicates that they do not have access to technology. If you have students report that they need access to on campus computer labs, please share the student’s name and contact information so that we can notify them if access becomes available.

  2. Tutoring

    1. The Learning Commons staff continues to provide online tutoring, both with DCCC tutoring staff and via ThinkingStorm. Students should visit the Learning Commons Tutoring page on the College website to schedule a virtual tutoring appointment.

  3. Testing

    1. For faculty who have already made arrangements for online proctoring for Spring 2020 classes, these plans continue to be in place. For all other proctoring needs not already addressed, online proctoring resources are limited and faculty will need to make plans to virtually proctor tests or allow students to take assessments in an unproctored environment.

  4. Other student support resources

    1. As most of you are aware, DCCC has an abundance of support services for students and it is important to keep those in mind as our students deal with this extended situation. Many of our students will be facing, among other things, child care issues and loss/reduction of employment. Please refer your students to the Student Resources page on the website so they can connect with those who can provide assistance in dealing with the challenges they are facing. You may also use Starfish to refer students for services.  College staff have plans in place to follow up with student requests and can assist students with things such as food pantry access with an appointment and other services through virtual/electronic means.

Expectations for ongoing operations:

  1. Participation in virtual meetings

    1. As you know we are fortunate to have a number of resources that allow us to continue with meetings that are critical to the success of our students and programs. As we navigate the coming weeks, you will receive meeting requests from your Associate Dean that will provide an opportunity for real time discussion and connection that is more difficult under our current operations model. The expectation for attendance at such meetings is no different than usual. Should you be unable to attend, please contact your Associate Dean as soon as possible to discuss alternatives.

  2. Flexibility around attendance and performance expectations

    1. Many of you are already exploring options for your classes with regard to policies and expectations you have for your students. Take into consideration as you do this the unique situation we find ourselves in as well as the varied situations many of our students will encounter. This is an opportunity to continue building our culture of care and compassion and to realize maximum flexibility when working with your students. Please keep your Associate Dean in the loop regarding changes.

    2. Work with your colleagues who are teaching the same courses so that as you make changes, consistency across sections is maintained to the extent possible.  This is a great way to support each other as you try new strategies and work to keep your students engaged. It is also a way in which our adjuncts can be part of the conversation and receive additional assistance from those with discipline-specific knowledge and expertise.

    3. Give some thought to what aspects of your policies can be used as guidelines rather than strict deadlines. There will be instances where students cannot meet the established deadlines due to the disruption the pandemic has created.  Discuss with your colleagues and Associate Dean what is reasonable with regard to flexibility in policy and practice.

    4. One of the guiding questions for considering course changes is “What does success look like for my students now?” That might be different under our current circumstances than your preference but remaining open to alternative ways to define and demonstrate success is important as we move forward. Again, connect with your colleagues and Associate Dean about your plans.

Next steps:

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Board of Trustees will hold a Special Meeting electronically.  During this meeting the Trustees will be briefed on the response of the college thus far and our plans beginning next week.  We will also ask the Trustees to approve a new Emergency Leave Policy that will ensure full and part-time employees have access to Paid State of Emergency Leave through March 31, 2020.  This policy may be extended beyond March 31, 2020. We will continue to do all that is possible to support our employees during this time.

We appreciate your patience as we work through emerging needs and respond flexibly to a landscape that is changing daily. Just as you are demonstrating patience, care, and compassion for your students, we are committed to caring for you and supporting you as we continue to serve our students.

– Darrin
Wear your mask. Wait 6 feet from others. Wash your hands. COVID-19 Information