Contingency Planning and Guidance for Faculty: Programming and Support for Academic Continuity

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

My earlier message to the campus faculty on March 6 highlighted the need to review options for conducting academic instruction in the face of potential disruptions caused by COVID-19, should in-person instruction be suspended. At this time, it is not clear whether and when the COVID-19 will directly impact the operations of Rutgers University campuses. We remain attentive to the changing circumstances, and ask that you help us by remaining informed of this complex situation. One thing remains true: we are committed to providing our students with continued instruction so that they do not lose progress toward the timely completion of their degrees. We do not anticipate lengthening the spring semester nor halting the progress of our students.

The previous message also indicated that further information would be provided with specific resources to facilitate remote instruction. Please bookmark this website for the academic resources listed below:

Faculty may also consider developing independent study alternatives for students or using collaboration tools with which they are familiar. Deans, chairs, and graduate and undergraduate directors have been asked to work with individual faculty to support their strategies for continuing their teaching in the event we have to suspend our on-campus instruction.

Additionally, we would like to share the following suggested guidelines for academic best practices, as part of our academic contingency plans.

  1. All faculty should ensure that they have off-site access to all valid email addresses for the students in each of their classes, lab sections, independent studies, etc.
  2. All faculty should message their classes promptly that students will need to check regularly for messages from their instructors if the University recommends suspending in-person instruction.
  3. Faculty who have not already done so should set up a course webpage in Sakai, Canvas, or Blackboard, and post their syllabus and class assignments. Students should be provided with information on how to submit course assignments via the course website. If this is not feasible, students should be provided a valid email address for you so that they can submit assignments.
  4. Faculty may consider signing up for access to a software communication program, for example, WebEx, which can accommodate up to 1,000 individuals simultaneously, or Kaltura video platform supported by Canvas, linked above.
  5. Faculty should carefully review how to adapt their current syllabus to the emerging situation and make certain that students are apprised of the changes as soon as possible. This may include a plan for students who need to make up work (such as returning study abroad students, students who have been ill, etc.)

Please be mindful that we are also in the winter/spring flu season, so students may be absent from class. Please be lenient with students who return from illness. You may choose not to require a doctor’s note of a student who is returning from absence due to illness.

For the graduating class: Several of our undergraduate and graduate students who anticipate receiving their degrees in May have secured employment and will need to have grades submitted on time so that they can certify to their employer that they have earned the degree. Please keep this in mind as the end of the semester comes near. An incomplete grade may keep a student from graduating.

Finally, please remember to bookmark and check the university website regularly; being proactive in learning about the institutional status in this evolving situation will enable you to inform your students quickly and systematically about potential future steps.

We are grateful to you for your continued commitment to the academic advancement of our students.

Sincerely,

Prabhas V. Moghe
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Research & Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor