FAQs for Faculty

FAQs for Faculty
Faculty Leadership Council
March 30, 2020

The Faculty Leadership Council, which includes representatives from the Department Chair Council, Academic Senate, and AFA, has been working over the past two weeks to identify and address faculty needs as we transition from our normal way of teaching and providing student services to various “remote” or “modified” methods of delivery. We are partnering with each other and with the District with the goals of protecting the health and safety of our community, and helping our students to complete the semester.

Additionally, on March 26, AFA and the District completed negotiations on a “Side Letter,” which addresses compensation, workload, leaves, evaluations, working conditions, and sabbaticals, among other things. AFA and the District recognize that this side letter addresses only the most urgent matters, and the teams have agreed to immediately resume negotiations to both address additional matters and provide more details on general provisions in the March 26 Side Letter.

We recognize the good work that the District is doing to communicate to all employees. We also note that the FAQs and other communications to all employees do not fully address the faculty’s situation. This FAQ is written by faculty and for faculty. It provides answers to the questions we’ve heard most frequently from our colleagues, in emails and also in response to the faculty survey administered during Spring Break. There are other questions that need answers—for example, regarding grading options and attendance counting rules. Look for further communications as these answers are determined, and please continue to forward your questions to us.

ACCESS TO COLLEGE SITES

  1. Can I go to campus in order to get my laptop computer and other work materials?

Yes.

  1. Can I go to campus in order to get my desktop computer?

Desktop computers are not set up to work if they’re not connected to the on-campus systems. If you need to use your desktop computer at home, you will need to contact IT. If you are able to make arrangements with IT, you may—as of this writing—March 30—go to campus to retrieve the desktop computer. 

  1. Can I work in my office if I choose to and if I maintain social distancing?

Yes. In general, the District encourages all employees to work remotely, but the District has stressed that if your office is the only place for you to do your work, you may do so as long as you maintain social distancing. Please know that the District cannot guarantee that all workspaces and particularly private offices will be properly cleaned. If you come to campus and work from your private office, be prepared to wipe down items before and after you touch them.

  1. Can I use classrooms, labs, and other facilities during this time of delivering “modified” instruction?

Yes. So that District Police and custodial services are aware of which facilities faculty members are using and can keep the college’s sites safe and clean, the District has created a protocol for faculty members wishing to use facilities to provide remote instruction or to prepare instructional contentother than their offices. The District requests that you fill out a short form (“Faculty Access to College Facilities/Sites for Remote Instruction”), available on the Academic Affairs website, in advance of using classrooms, labs, and other facilities.

The District protocol requests that if you are using a facility other than your office, you maintain social distancing; wash your hands frequently; and clean items that you are using, both before and after use, using supplies if provided by the District. If you need the presence of anyone other than yourself—for example, classified support staff—you are requested to contact that person’s supervisor and Vice President to make arrangements. 

No students are allowed on campus for face-to-face instruction.

DEADLINES FOR STUDENT WORK DURING THE SUSPENSION OF CLASSES & SPRING BREAK

  1. Was it permissible for faculty members to require students to submit work during the suspension of classes (Th, 3/12, - Sun, 3/15; and M, 3/23 - Sun, 3/29) and during Spring Break? 

Yes, if the work was already assigned before the closures. But we strongly recommend that if students miss deadlines scheduled during the period of class suspension or spring break, faculty members provide a grace period, without penalty. Please bear in mind that students have received inconsistent messaging on this point from the College, and their grades should not suffer as a result.

PROVIDING INSTRUCTION AND STUDENT SERVICES VIA “REMOTE” OR “MODIFIED” METHODS

  1. When must I resume instruction and student services via “remote” or other “modified” methods?

Monday, March 30.

  1. Do I have to follow all aspects of the Course Outline of Record (COR)?

No. The CCC Chancellor’s Office has stated that in light of the current pandemic, faculty members are not required to teach fully to the COR. It may not be possible to cover or assign all topics, scopes, and assignments. Faculty members are recommended to focus on fulfilling Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs).  If you change requirements for your courses, be sure to update your syllabus and let your students know of the changes.

  1. Where can I find the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and Course Outline of Record (COR) for my course?

The SLOs for each course are part of the COR for each course and are available here.

9. Do I have to tell my chair or dean what my “modified” plan is?

No, you do not.

  1. Do I have to get my “modified” plan approved by anyone?

No, you do not. Faculty members retain their academic freedom rights.

  1. I don’t know anything about Zoom or Canvas, or much about online teaching. Do I have to use these systems?

No, faculty members may decide to modify their instruction in any fashion that makes sense for them and their courses: email, the phone, Canvas, Cubbies, Zoom, Skype, YouTube, or the U.S. mail. Each faculty member has full control over how they will teach remotely in order to achieve the Student Learning Outcomes of the course.

  1. What if I have questions about how to teach course content and/or pedagogy through remote learning?

Faculty members should reach out to their department or discipline colleagues for help with disciplinary content and pedagogy.

  1. If I have questions about how to use "distance learning" tools, what should I do?

The Distance Education Office provides excellent help with the technology associated with online teaching. There are many trainings available to faculty on the Distance Education Office's website.

If you are using Canvas, the Canvas site also provides excellent support.

There is also a list of approximately 150 faculty members who have offered to help colleagues who need assistance with Canvas, Zoom, and general “online teaching.” AFA emailed that list to the faculty on March 26. The list should also be posted on the Distance Education Office’s website soon.

  1. What if the faculty members in a discipline determine that a particular course, or a significant part of a course, cannot be taught remotely?  

Discipline faculty members, in consultation with the department chair, can make the decision to cancel the class. Deliberation will include whether the Student Learning Outcomes and essential learning for subsequent pathway courses may be achieved via remote instruction.

  1. Are faculty members expected to deliver a high-quality distance-ed course in place of their face-to-face course?

No. A quality online course typically takes several months or even years to develop, and faculty members should maintain reasonable expectations as to the quality of instruction they can provide given the short time allotted for this transition. The Side Letter negotiated between AFA and the District directs the faculty to expend the same number of hours on instruction they would have spent before the crisis began; faculty members should focus on managing their time and efforts within those parameters as best they can. This will likely mean doing much less, greatly reducing the kinds of interactions you would typically provide to students. We are aware that this may still be an unrealistic goal to meet within contractual hours, especially given faculty members' high standards for themselves and their students. It is vital that faculty members care for their own and their loved ones’ health. Trying to maintain our high standards, much less encourage the development of quality online instruction, at this time would be a recipe for collective exhaustion that will serve only to increase the trauma that this crisis has created.

  1. How long will remote learning last?

Right now, we know that we’ll be providing “modified” instruction and student services at least through April 7, and indications are that remote delivery may continue through the Spring 2020 semester. We know nothing about the summer term or fall semester. The Faculty Leadership Council has urged the District to provide frequent updates to the faculty.

There was also some confusion regarding the District’s announcement that “events” are cancelled through May 21. “Events” refers to sporting events, theater and music performances, receptions, etc. Instruction and student services are not “events.”

17. Students are asking me so many questions about many things including transferring, financial aid, scholarships, and when we will all be back in the classroom.  What should I tell them?

We know how anxious our students are right now. Faculty members who do not have expertise in these areas should encourage their students to read the District’s and Student Services’ communications to students and to contact the SRJC office that can answer their question. Student Services offices like Admissions and Records, the Transfer Center, Financial Aid, and others are working hard to give students regular updates for navigating this current situation. 

DISTRICT & DEPARTMENT SERVICE AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

  1. Are shared governance and other meetings cancelled?

The Academic Senate, AFA, the District, and other constituency groups will be conferring on whether shared governance meetings will meet and, if so, which ones. Any essential meetings will be held remotely.

Departments that have committee work will determine which work is essential and which to cancel. Essential departmental committee work will be conducted remotely.

If you will not attend meetings, the organization—the Academic Senate or AFA—that appointed you to the committee or council would appreciate being informed so that it may appoint a replacement.

If you are not sure whether your committee or council will meet, please check with the chair(s) of the committees—including hiring committees—that you are part of to see whether they are still meeting this semester. 

Faculty members may decline to participate in meetings without prejudice in order to prioritize students by allocating contractual hours to modified teaching and student services.

  1. Am I required to continue to meet my service and professional development obligations?

Contract faculty members may decline, without prejudice, to participate in their service obligations as necessary in order to reallocate hours to maintaining remote instruction and student services.

Both contract and adjunct faculty members may use hours devoted to learning and maintaining “remote” instruction and student services to satisfy their professional development obligations. Contract faculty members eligible for PGI who plan to include hours-in-excess-of-contractual-hours in their PGI applications should log and document their hours.

  1. What about Commencement, which is (was) scheduled for Saturday, May 23?

The District has not yet determined whether Commencement will be cancelled.

EXERCISING LEAVE OPTIONS

  1. Can faculty members decide to take a "leave" from all or part of their assigned duties?

Yes, the District and AFA have reached an agreement on this issue. See §E of the March 26, 2020, Side Letter for information on leaves.