Message on Planning for Instructional Continuity

Students ride bicycles in front of Shields Library.

Chancellor Gary S. May, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, and Kristin H. Lagattuta, chair of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate, issued the following statement today (March 5):

Dear Colleagues,

As of this writing, there are no reported cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Davis campus or in Yolo County. Nevertheless, in the interests of health and safety, this is an appropriate time for all instructors to be prepared in case students, staff, or instructors become ill or are under quarantine in the coming weeks and months, or if the campus needs to temporarily suspend in-person instruction. The campus will continue to provide updates about this evolving situation at: https://www.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus.

We hope you will agree that our primary focus is the health and safety of our students and our teaching community. In addition, we want to uphold the quality of education for our students so they can continue progress towards their academic goals. 

In this regard, and after consultation with colleagues across the campus, we wish to share with you advice and resources to support faculty and students who become ill or are quarantined. We strongly encourage you to review these now and consider how you would apply these to your undergraduate (and if applicable, graduate and professional) courses for winter 2020 and spring 2020:

  1. The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) and Academic Technology Services (ATS) have resources to support remote instruction in the event that in-person instruction must be curtailed. These resources can be found in an easy-to-access format on the Keep Teaching website. Please review these resources, tools, and techniques that will enable you to continue instruction if you cannot conduct in-person classes. For further assistance, please email cee@ucdavis.edu (pedagogical and instructional strategies) or ats@ucdavis.edu (technological tools).
  2. Instructors of record should ensure that they have access to their grading records for all of their classes. For ease of access, instructors are strongly encouraged to use the gradebook feature in Canvas. This will provide easy access should an instructor fall ill. We also suggest that the instructor of record consider delegating access to their gradebooks to their department chair.
  3. Departments should designate an alternate instructor to be on standby should the instructor become ill or quarantined and unable to teach.
  4. Upload course documents (e.g., syllabi, assignments, reading lists) into Canvas, so that students can access them remotely if they are unable to come to campus due to illness or quarantine. If the course has a separate website, provide a link to it from Canvas. 
  5. Instructors are encouraged to consider assessments and exams that accommodate student illness and possible lack of access to campus, in addition to accommodations already required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You can consider assigning an incomplete grade as an option if a student is unable to complete coursework during a quarter.
  6. The Academic Senate has issued guidelines for faculty and instructors when changes in campus operating status lead to canceled classes. If needed, these guidelines will be augmented to address changes in the COVID-19 situation. The Academic Senate is preparing emergency academic policies should longer-term disruptions to campus operating status occur.

In addition, deans, chairs and program directors should undertake planning to address the follow contingencies and scenarios:

  • Consider how your unit will keep courses running if instructors or course staff become ill or are quarantined.
  • Plan ahead to meet the ADA needs of quarantined instructors or students who had arranged accommodation with respect to in-person courses.
  • Inventory courses for which lecture capture exists already. Make faculty aware of the inventory and make the material available as needed to support current courses.
  • Arrange for key courses to undergo lecture capture in spring 2020, summer 2020, and beyond, so as to provide the greatest coverage in future times of need.
  • It may be helpful to increase the number of summer session courses to support the academic advancement of students from abroad who cannot return home. We encourage flexibility and responsiveness should Summer Sessions staff reach out to departments to assess their capacity to increase summer course offerings.

Should local public health officials advise that we limit time spent in close physical proximity to each other, we believe that the recommendations and information provided above will help you be prepared to maintain instructional continuity. We will continue to monitor the situation, and we will work with the campus to continue developing resources that will support instructional resilience into the future.

We realize these are times of uncertainty and concern and we thank you for your patience and wisdom in navigating these challenges. It is important that we are as prepared as possible all the while hoping that our precautions will prove to be unnecessary. If you have specific questions or suggestions for additional tools or services that would help support you and our students, please send those ideas to ats@ucdavis.edu.

Thank you for your efforts in support of the educational mission of our campus.

Best regards,

Gary S. May
Chancellor

Ralph J. Hexter
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Kristin H. Lagattuta
Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate

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