Fall for real this time...

Bill Maurer
Thursday Apr 30 16:11:45 PDT 2020
    Dear faculty, lecturers, staff and grad students,

    Last week's Thursday message was relatively light, if I recall
    correctly. This one is... a little heavier. But as we're all reminding
    each other: we'll get through this!
    In today's deans' meeting, the interim Provost made clear: "social
    distancing will be a part of the Fall." And Vice Provost Michael Dennin
    last night emailed the deans, undergrad associate deans and undergrad
    student affairs directors a template to help guide planning for remote
    instruction in Fall quarter. This, and additional data we're gathering
    now, is just a start to the planning process and will not lock us into
    any course of action. It's just data gathering, for the purposes of
    helping the campus understand what facilities and lecture halls might
    need to be used for instruction, and how.
    Data gathering: Helen Morgan has asked the department managers to start
    gathering information on which classes currently scheduled for Fall
    quarter can only be conducted in person (we probably have very few),
    which would be a priority for in-person but could be done remotely
    (might be a handful of lab or experiential learning courses), and which
    could be done remotely if necessary.
    Jeanett, Helen, Janet, and our fantastic Social Sciences Academic
    Resource Center team have devised and are distributing surveys for our
    students currently enrolled in Spring quarter classes, and our faculty
    and lecturers currently teaching. We are trying to get a snapshot of
    the overall experience from the student and instructor perspective to
    help identify needs.
    Jeanett and Janet are also developing tools and programming to start
    the process of assessing what kind and level of support people will need
    based on their Spring experience (if they are teaching in both Spring and
    Fall) or based on their general level of comfort with online instruction
    (if they are not teaching right now).
    We'll then be able to roll out workshops, one-on-one advising,
    instructional design support, and the like, to get ready for Fall
    quarter. Meanwhile, definitely check out the resources offered by UC
    Irvine's brand new Online Learning Research Center.
    Graduate instruction: The campus is currently assuming that most
    graduate instruction will take place in person, on campus, with social
    distancing. But VPs Hayes and Dennin are also encouraging us to think
    about an online option for grad classes, too, in the event of travel
    restrictions and in case a resurgence of the virus demands we swiftly
    return to a lower level of activity and population density on campus.
    Staff and facilities: It is likely that we will need to develop plans
    for staggering work schedules and building/office occupation patterns
    for staff, as well as techniques like one-way corridors and stairways,
    protective barriers, designated entry and exit doors, etc. That said:
    we're doing a pretty good job right now in terms of conducting staff
    functions remotely, so we can expect flexibility with respect to
    telecommuting. Stay tuned.
    Research activities: Vice Chancellor for Research Pramod Khargonekar
    has circulated among the deans and other administrators a draft plan
    for reopening research facilities. I'll be reaching out to some of you
    for specific input very soon. I'll try to get some additional guidance
    out as needed for specific research activities, too.
    CARES Act Part 2: The second tranche of CARES funds has a chunk
    specifically designated for enhancements to instruction and remote
    learning, which the campus is likely to use for additional TA support or
    GSR support for grad students who will assist in instructional design
    and online course instruction. We're also working with the campus on
    additional funding for grad students. A silver lining to additional relief
    funding is that it is likely to provide more grad student employment.
    There will be more to come. But this at least is where we can
    begin--again!--to think about where we need to go next. And to
    reiterate--we want to be realistic in our planning but remain flexible,
    too, since we don't want to lock ourselves into a course of action we'll
    need to roll back quickly if conditions change, for the better or worse.
    I was on a Zoom with an undergrad in Korea who is re-configuring her
    whole honors research project given the current state of the world. After
    my telling her that trying to re-adjust her body to be on Pacific time
    was probably a bad and unhealthy idea (she wants to participate in the
    life of the campus, she said, and it's in Pacific time!), she told me:
    "It feels like we went from 0 to 100 very quickly, and now we're staying
    at 100". Yup. Pretty much that's what it's like!
    Thank you all for your hard work, patience, understanding, and
    Sort of feels like today warrants a Rufus picture, eh?