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The purpose of this FAQ is to answer questions that the Dean’s Office is receiving from faculty, teaching assistants and other instructors of record. It is not meant to be a complete set of answers to all questions, and it will be updated as needed. The main University page for resources for remote instruction is keepteaching.unc.edu and the main page for COVID-19 updates is unc.edu/coronavirus. Information for students regarding the new coronavirus pass/fail grading policy can be found here.

New question and answer added April 15:

We are not requiring instructors in the College of Arts & Sciences to provide their student evaluations of teaching (SETs) for any tenure, promotion and/or merit considerations or any faculty evaluation procedures. You will still receive your SET report(s), but the report will be for your information only. It will be at your discretion if you choose to present results from spring 2020 in any future evaluation process and/or discuss your experiences in transitioning to remote learning during this semester.

All students will complete a student evaluation for each course as usual. The SET will be shortened from the regular form. You will still have the option to add up to 10 items of your own for your diagnostic purposes.

In addition, all SET reports from spring 2020 will clearly state that the results are for the instructor only and are only to be used for promotion and merit considerations if the instructor provides permission.

New question and answer added on April 1:

A: Final exams are considered instructional time and are counted toward the credit hours, so we will have final exams during remote instruction. We will have greater flexibility in how those exams can be administered and will need to ensure an equitable learning experience for our students. While technology exists that could enable us to hold live, proctored sessions, it requires a computer with a camera and access to reliable broadband connections, which we know not all of our students have. Accordingly, we will look for alternative approaches for end-of-semester assessments.

The Keep Teaching team has assembled a set of best practices and frequently asked questions to help guide you through your planning. We encourage you to use this resource, which can be found at the Exam tab on the Keep Teaching website.

If you or a group of instructors would like help in designing and delivering an alternative final exam during remote instruction, the Keep Teaching team can set up an instructional design consultation for you or a group. The easiest way to request a consultation is to use the link found at the Training tab on the Keep Teaching website.

While alternative approaches to assessment and final exams may work easily in some areas, we know it presents real challenges for some courses. We will work together to make solutions as effective as possible.

New questions and answers added on March 26:

A: The Sakai Gradebook is a good option. Faculty can add another faculty member (or their teaching assistant, if they have one) to the class Sakai site. This can be done now or if they feel they are becoming ill. Another option is to use spreadsheets in Office 365, which are shareable. If faculty have TAs, make sure TAs know where grades are stored. If faculty use another platform to manage exam and homework grades temporarily before uploading to Sakai (e.g., Gradescope, Mastering), they should invite a TA or another faculty colleague as an “instructor” or keep a file with passwords if someone else needs to step in later. More than ever, it’s important to be as timely as possible with evaluating assignments and posting grades. 
A: The keepteaching.unc.edu website has been updated with new information and recommendations regarding Zoom security. Please see these links: Securing Zoom; Securing Zoom recordings.

New questions and answers added on March 20:

A: Yes, but please notify your department chair regarding any equipment you take home. If your computer contains sensitive information, you will need to coordinate with your departmental IT professional and ITS Security.
A: Please refer to the University-wide March 18 communication from Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research, which can also be found online here. If you have additional questions, please have your chair contact your senior associate dean or Chris Clemens, senior associate dean for research and innovation.

A: The physical libraries are closed but the libraries are certainly open for remote business. Please visit its COVID-19 website  for the latest information. There you will find contact information to call, chat, email or schedule consultations with librarians.

To help researchers transition to remote instruction, the library will license e-books and link to online content for course reserves. Researchers should send any requests related to reserves to: reserve_reading@unc.edu. According to University Librarian Elaine Westbrook, the library will purchase e-books if it has only a print copy in its collection. The goal is to provide e-copies or books and articles so there is no need to pick up a physical book or photocopy of an article.

The library is unable to circulate print books without putting its staff at risk so it is doing all it can to provide electronic alternatives for anyone in need.

A: All evaluations and peer reviews this semester will be voluntary. We understand this is an extraordinary semester and are taking that into consideration. If chairs have older teaching observations for faculty, they may use them. Please submit what you were able to finish, and if additional teaching observations need to be made later, that can be arranged.

A: We will continue to use the University policy already in place for requesting extensions. Faculty desiring an extension due to COVID-19 disruption should fill out the form found on that web page and forward it to their department chair for review and approval. The policy allows for extensions due to “compelling circumstances,” and we certainly consider COVID-19 disruptions to be compelling circumstances.

All dossier submission deadlines remain unchanged, pending any future communications from the University.

A: New campus procurement guidelines addressing these topics were issued by Jonathan Pruitt, vice chancellor for finance and operations, on March 19 and were distributed to all department chairs and business officers. The guidelines can be found here.

The Office of Finance and Operations is working diligently to obtain reimbursements and cancel trips previously booked.

A: Requests to roll over unspent College research and travel funds should be made through your departmental budget analyst. We will grant all reasonable requests. We await further guidance from the University on non-College funds.
A: All students, including international students, received an email indicating that they needed to submit a petition for an exception to stay in the residence halls. Students who are permitted to remain on campus can purchase takeout meals.
A: Please visit the following website for tips sharing HIPAA, FERPA, IRB Level 3 and other types of sensitive information via Zoom. 3-27-update: More information about securing Zoom can be found at the keepteaching website: Securing Zoom; securing Zoom recordings.

A: Teaching assistants and research assistants who are enrolled in the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program and graduating in May have the option of coming on the Student Blue plan at a prorated premium for the remainder of the Student Blue policy year. The policy year ends on July 31. Beyond that date, the student would need to explore other health insurance options.

Losing GSHIP coverage at the end of May is considered a qualifying life event (QLE). Graduates can contact Student Blue customer service directly to enroll in the plan because of the QLE. The RA/TA must notify Student Blue within 30 days from termination of GSHIP in order to enroll in Student Blue. Please visit: https://gradschool.unc.edu/policies/student/insurance/ for more information.

Previous questions and answers:

The strategy we are implementing is one of “social distancing” and is based on the best available guidance for slowing the spread of COVID-19. The UNC System has issued a directive for all universities to significantly reduce operations. Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin issued instructions on March 17 for UNC-Chapel Hill to reduce operations, move to remote instruction and limit people on campus.

Safety and student-focused approaches are key as we formulate plans for rapidly evolving circumstances.  Our priority is to serve our students, especially those closest to graduation, and our goal is to help students stay on track and make timely progress toward their academic and career goals.

Please use this week to ready your course. Abundant resources are available at keep teaching.unc.edu, which has tips on preparation, strategies to reach and communicate with students, resources, and training sessions coordinated by the Center for Faculty Excellence that are being offered remotely using Zoom. This site is being updated frequently, so revisit often. Updated content includes intermediate training sessions, one-on-one consultations for faculty facing difficulties adapting their courses, and discussion forums. Stay in close communication with your department, which may also be developing support.

If you have not already done so, we ask you to reach out by email to your students to prepare them for the start of remote instruction on March 23. The Office of Undergraduate Education’s Learning and Writing Center has provided tips for remote learning that your students may find helpful.

Remember, however, that spring break has been extended one week, so please extend deadlines established for the week of March 16-20 into the next week. This is a time for generous and humane instruction that respects that our students and their families vary widely in their capacities to deal with disruption.

With assistance from department chairs, we have classified courses into three categories: (1) those that need only simple tools such as Zoom and Sakai to be delivered remotely; (2) those that may need additional instructional design and development to be adapted; and (3) those that appear challenging to adapt, such as labs or intensive performance/arts courses.

If your course is in the first category, see the answer to the question above. If your course was listed in category 2 or 3, we are working with the Center for Faculty Excellence; Kelly Hogan, Associate Dean of Instructional Innovation; Abigail Panter, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education; and instructional design support teams across campus to analyze possible solutions. Indeed, if you have a category 2 or 3 course, you have likely already been contacted by a consultant.

We are working to identify solutions. The teleconferencing tool Zoom allows audio connection by telephone, and lecture notes can be delivered in advance. However, be cognizant of the size of files that you deliver digitally, especially PowerPoint files with images, which can grow quite large if not compressed.

ITS has prepared information about working remotely that may be helpful to both students and instructors. Please note especially the guide on this site, “Guidance for off-campus internet service.”

Absolutely. Our graduate students are a critical part of our teaching and learning community and will have access to the same training and assistance as faculty. In addition, we acknowledge that the transition may be particularly stressful in the dual roles of student and instructor that graduate students inhabit. Please make your advisor, department chair or director of graduate studies aware of any circumstances that may require special attention and be mindful of your health.
Yes, and you are encouraged to help graduate students stay on course to degree completion. Departments can hold defenses via Zoom or similar teleconferencing tool. Contact your department chair/senior associate dean if you do not believe that teleconferencing is an option.
We are aware that these are extraordinary circumstances and will take that into account before any decisions about evaluations are made. We will be formulating a plan based on input from faculty and teaching assistants once we manage the transition to remote instruction. 3-27-20 update: A message from Dean Rhodes was sent to teaching track faculty that annual peer teaching observations for spring 2020 were being postponed. Consult the communication for more details.
Under the March 17 guidelines from the chancellor and provost, Carolina’s buildings will be closed and in-person, non-essential services will be suspended effective 5 p.m. Friday, March 20. Beginning March 18, on-campus parking will be available for mandatory employees and students reporting to work. Move.unc.edu has a COVID-19 web page for updates regarding transportation and parking services.
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