Teaching in the Time of COVID-19
March 5, 2020
Dear Members of the Baruch Faculty,
In recent days, several faculty have asked about best ways to respond to the possible spread of COVID-19 (the corona virus), especially how to position ourselves quickly to enhance online instruction, if that becomes necessary.
Fortunately, as we all know (and as we heard yesterday from our Middle States Visiting Team), Baruch offers outstanding support in the broad areas of teaching and learning. In recent days, Allison Lehr Samuels (Director of the Center for teaching and Learning) and Arthur Downing (VP for Information Services and Dean of the Library) have been working on updating material to guide faculty through the potential challenges we might face in continuing our teaching efforts through whatever situations may arise in the coming weeks.
Some of you may recall that earlier, when confronted with the challenges of Super Storm Sandy and even with making up classes missed because of weather, Baruch developed material to help faculty move instruction online, while a semester was already in progress. Arthur and Allison, with advice from colleagues in other units that provide direct support for teaching, have developed revised and updated versions of all these materials, which you can now find prominently presented on the website of the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Included in this material is a “Faculty Checklist: What To Start Doing in Advance of a Potential Disruption of Face-to-Face Teaching.” Because it is important that we all start thinking about this possibility with as much advance notice as possible, I’m including the “Checklist” in this message as well.
All material below, and on the Center for Teaching and Learning Site, has been prepared for the possibility that CUNY might make a decision to alter class schedules and formats in the event of a wider spread of COVID-19. This material is distributed to provide faculty the time and tools to reflect on and be prepared for possible changes. Faculty should not decide on their own to alter class schedules and format. If any particular accommodations are needed, faculty are urged to discuss those with depart chairs and deans’ offices.
What to Start Doing in Advance of a Potential Disruption of Face-to-Face Teaching
To be prepared in case a disruption occurs, faculty should take the following actions now:
- Make sure that you can log into all the Baruch systems that you might need—Office 365, Dropbox, CUNYfirst, etc. Please keep in mind that some of the resources you will need
require a CUNY login while others use a Baruch username/password. Contact BCTC or your school technology team if there is a problem.
- Save your course teaching materials to your Baruch Dropbox or Microsoft 365 storage account where you can access them outside the office.
- Make sure your students know the best way to reach you (email, voice mail, personal phone, etc.) in the event that the College closes, but instruction continues in a different fashion.
- Consider that students have differing levels of access to technology and internet connectivity, and that the availability of computer labs, libraries, or other public access points would likely be limited during an event that causes campus to close. Alternate assignments or accommodations may be necessary on a case by case basis.
- Check your access to technology from off-campus using your personal devices. For example, can you use a personal desktop, laptop and/or mobile device such as a phone or iPad to access our systems remotely? This is a good opportunity to make sure that all your operating systems are up-to-date and compatible with any software you might use. Contact BCTC or
your school technology team if there is a problem.
- Practice forwarding your office phone calls to your home phone or personal cell phone and changing your office voice mail message.
The Center for Teaching and Learning will shortly be announcing workshops on online assignment design and setting up Blogs@Baruch and Vocat. Check the CTL events page for updates.
Although the above suggestions are directed at possible College-wide disruption to enrollment, I’d urge you to become familiar with them more generally, because they are equally helpful in dealing with more personal disruptions. The steps we need to take to continue our teaching in the face of COVID-19 are in fact the same steps we can take if we’re sick and can’t make it to class, or even if we experience a transportation delay.
Several of us will be at the Faculty Senate session later today to address these issues; and we’ll provide a very brief demonstration of how you can access this information online.
Thank you for the work you do every day on behalf of our students—in ordinary and extraordinary time.
Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost