Faculty Update re COVID-19

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As we brace for entering the month of April, here are some new developments and continued guidances in the area of instruction:

  •        Drop students through April 9th who are no longer actively participating in your class - As mentioned in last week's email, the drop deadline that was originally set for March 27th has been pushed to April 9th, the Thursday of spring break. Dropping students who have disappeared out of your class instead of letting them get F's or D's at the end of the semester will help protect their academic record.
  •        What about an incomplete? Last Friday, the Chancellor's Office released an executive order and guidance memo about modifications to grading policies. Notably, the regulations for giving an “I” grade were not modified other than affirming the coronavirus pandemic qualifies is an “unforeseeable, emergency, and justifiable reason” for needing additional time. But the mechanism for giving an incomplete remains the same, specifically that the instructor states in a written record the condition for the removal of the “I” and that this record must be given to the student (at Cerro Coso, we accept an email exchange as evidence). Bottom line: if the student has disappeared on you, initiate a drop so the student can receive a non-punitive withdrawal; if you are still in contact with the student, you can assess on a student-by-student basis when the use of the “I” is appropriate.
  •        If you are one of the very few instructors whose class has been paused at this time, work with your dean - In this case, neither the drop or the “I” is the right grade. Please work with your dean.
  •        Communicate with your dean if your face-to-face students who transitioned to remote learning need extra time to complete coursework - The same memo and guidance documents mentioned above grant colleges the ability to extend the end date of the term. In context of the week of instruction that was postponed during the transition, you may feel like you need that week back again to get through all the course outcomes. If that's true, we ask that you communicate with your dean right away. The college has to report the number of courses it is seeking this exemption for.
  •        Continue to use the Early Alert system in Navigate for students who are struggling - And that's all students, face-to-face, online, or transitioned, and all types of struggling from classroom performance to specific challenges with the transition to basic needs
  •        Refer students to a counselor who ask if they can convert their letter grade to Pass/No Pass - We ask you to be very very cautious about this. As the guidance indicates, students can now ask for P/NP (normally they have to do so by the 30% date), but there are possible transfer ramifications for students at the 4-year level. While the hope is that CSU's and UC's will work with students about any P grades earned during this time, the conversation has not been completed and so the status of such grades are still up in the air for transfer purposes. Best option: refer students to a counselor.
  •        Please explicitly tell students if you are recording a Zoom session - Some students have communicated they are uncomfortable with their images being captured and archived. Announcing the recording up front gives them an opportunity to toggle their video off. Also, under no circumstances should class Zoom sessions be uploaded to open public sites such as YouTube. Students in class have an expectation of privacy, and unless waivers are signed by each and every student in the class, we cannot make class sessions generally public.   
  •        If you are teaching in the prisons, no news is good news! - So far the packet-style correspondence education seems to be working out great for our partners and for our students, and so far there have been no plans to restrict or cease this avenue of instruction. So far.
  •        If you are based in Ridgecrest and wish to come to the IWV campus to pick up something or work from your office, let us know in advance - Please fill out and submit the following Coming to Cerro Coso Campus During COVID-19 “Stay at Home” form preferably 1-2 hours before your planned arrival. That way, we know you are on campus for emergency preparedness reasons and we can disinfect your workspace after you leave.

Thank you all so much for the work you do and the dedication you show every day to students and their success. This is a very difficult time of change and stress. And while we are trying to keep all the plates spinning and balls in the air as before and are in regular contact with faculty leaders, Matt and Ben have asked that if you feel you have an academic or professional matter or are encountering a working conditions issue please bring it to their attention.


Corey Marvin