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A message from Terry Rhodes to faculty and graduate teaching assistants in the College of Arts & Sciences on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Pink Dogwoods bloom in front of the Old Well in early spring on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Thank you for all you have done thus far in responding to rapidly evolving events and preparing to move our students to remote instruction to slow the spread of COVID-19. These are extraordinary times for Carolina. Please see the University-wide message from Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin that went out late yesterday afternoon indicating that UNC-Chapel Hill is moving to significantly reduced campus operations and services by 5 p.m. Friday and adopting UNC System guidance for immediate implementation of the mandatory/non-mandatory employee work policy.

Despite the fact that we have lost a week of instruction time, we are expecting that our College faculty will be able to end classes at the original time of April 24, assuming that objectives and student learning outcomes for their course have been achieved.

The University has been advised by its accreditor, SACSCOC, that we are expected to make up the week of instructional time lost when we extended spring break through March 22. As described in the Federal definition of the credit hour, this amounts to approximately 50 minutes of instruction per course credit hour, and applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional level courses regardless of mode of instruction. With spring semester classes still scheduled to end on April 24, there are several options instructors might take to ensure that students have adequate opportunities to achieve all of the intended student learning outcomes of the course, including:

  • Extending individual class meeting time
  • Adding class meeting sessions
  • Assigning students additional out-of-class learning activities requiring equivalent time and effort in place of a week of class meetings (typically 150 minutes for a three credit-hour class).

Deans have the flexibility to grant rare exceptions to any faculty who feel that they need up to one week’s extension of the semester to assure that students achieve the learning outcomes of the class. The faculty member will need to submit a rationale to the department chair, who may submit a request for an extension to the appropriate senior associate dean. These decisions will be made in consultation with the UNC System, SACSCOC and our University Registrar.

Also, this is a reminder that no new instruction or assignment should be given during this week of extended spring break for students. Remote instruction begins on March 23.

Departments can still hold Master’s and Ph.D. defenses and should do so via Zoom or similar teleconferencing tool. Faculty should contact their department chair/senior associate deans if this does not appear possible.

Further guidance on topics such as course grading for the semester, independent study, peer and teaching reviews, and student evaluations will be forthcoming. We know these issues are of concern, and senior leadership is working to address them as quickly as we can.

Please stay abreast of the latest developments by visiting the main UNC coronavirus website. For remote teaching assistance, please revisit keepteaching.unc.edu. New features include intermediate-level training sessions for those who have completed the “getting started” modules, one-on-one consultations for instructors having difficulty adapting their courses to remote instruction, a discussion forum to post and respond to questions, and “Learning Community” chat sessions hosted by both instructional designers and faculty to discuss specific types of pedagogies (e.g., labs, experiential learning, service learning, group work).

We have also created an FAQ page for College instructors that answers many common questions we’ve been hearing. It, too, is being updated frequently, so check back often.

For your students, the Office of Undergraduate Education’s Learning and Writing Center has created these tips for learning remotely.

Thank you again for your flexibility and creative solutions during these challenging times.

 

Sincerely,

Terry Rhodes

Dean

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