Clarifications to Email of March 17, 2020

Published Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 4:34pm

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We write to provide clarification on key instructional aspects of Interim Chancellor Gonzales’s announcement to all Maricopa Employees sent Tuesday, March 17. The clarifications below are based upon feedback provided to the administrative, staff, and faculty members of the Chancellor’s Executive Council (CEC) and were discussed and further refined during this morning’s CEC meeting.

Two-Week Delay in Resuming Face-to-Face and Hybrid Courses. We understand that many faculty are concerned about the potential implications of delaying the resumption of courses for an additional two weeks. We would like to provide the abbreviated rationale for how this compromise was achieved and also to clarify what this delay actually means in practice.

Important interests about faculty autonomy and pedagogical control had to be weighed against the exigencies of the crisis and their impact on our population of students. Our students possess varying access to reliable and stable internet connections, varying access to suitable equipment, and a non-uniform understanding of how Canvas or other instructional technologies function. They also vary in their understanding of how to access needed support, not to mention bearing the weight of additional personal and financial challenges. We needed to find a solution that accommodated these students and minimized confusion that multiple resumption dates would have entailed, while still providing for continuity of quality instruction focused on students’ educational goals. In addition, faculty have a wide range of experience teaching online and in alternative formats. In many cases, training, support, and time to convert materials will be required. The two-week delay was hammered out as a solution to balance all of those interests.

In practice, this compromise still allows faculty to make their online / alternative delivery format content and/or classes available as soon as they are ready, just as you can make your online courses go-live prior to the start of any regular semester. The keys are not to require student attendance prior to April 6, and to ensure that all assignment due dates are set based on the course officially resuming April 6. To be clear, if you are ready to proceed by Monday, March 23, then by all means make your class available early to avoid loss of momentum and to minimize disruption to learning. But do not officially resume your class before April 6. You are the best judge of how to balance between these competing demands, and your professional judgment will be supported.

Some courses may not be able to migrate to an alternative instructional mode, such as courses with required field experiences, service learning, student teaching, practicum, or clinical experiences. Please work with your Division/Department Chair to identify these courses and notify your Vice President of Academic Affairs to help generate options on how to best resolve this difficulty. Recognizing that each situation may require a customized solution, we do not have one consistent answer to address these situations.

Option for Two-Week Course Extension Beyond End of Spring Semester. Over the next two weeks, as you design, revise, and implement alternative delivery methods for your face-to-face and hybrid courses, please consider whether you and your students will need additional instructional time beyond the original end date of Spring Semester (May 8). If you believe that you and your students can successfully fulfill the course competencies and course objectives in a satisfactory way within the original semester timeline, then there is no need to extend the end date. Clearly notify your students of this on or before April 3. If you determine that you and your students will need the additional two weeks, you must inform your Division/Department Chair, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and your students no later than 4:00pm on Friday, April 3. Financial aid and immigration implications of an extension are being addressed. District leadership made a commitment to compensating faculty who, in the exercise of their professional judgment, determine that a two-week extension is necessary.

Getting Your Students Ready. This is a big transition for us, and it is a big transition for your students. Change can be unnerving and intimidating. Please reach out directly to the students in your classes soon, and as often as possible, to let them know what your plans are, what your expectations are for them engaging in the course between now and the official resumption of the semester on April 6, and that you are available for consultation to help them through this transition. Please consider offering increased flexibility for your students as they grapple with the vast array of challenges we all face.

Sincerely,

Steven & Members of Chancellor’s Executive Council