July 23 letter to faculty from Interim Provost Debbie Storrs

Dear faculty,

In preparation for the fall 2020 semester, I am continuing to provide updates regarding plans and procedures. I do so with a heavy heart following the tragic death of former UND Provost Tom Dilorenzo. My thoughts are with his wife, Suzanne, and his family.

As we approach the challenges of the fall semester in the midst of a COVID-19 environment, please take a moment to reflect on the positive and know that I empathize with the challenges you will face this fall and deeply appreciate the work you are doing and will do to foster the safety of yourself and our campus, support each other, and provide the best educational experience possible for our students.

Here are the most recent updates for fall semester:

  • Faculty and chairs have submitted requests to move on-campus courses to online to their deans. These are under review, and, once approved for the fall, the registrar will change the course information in Campus Connection. We will communicate changes to students.
  • Classroom materials: Faculty are encouraged to bring their own whiteboard pens and erasers if they chose to use the whiteboard in class to avoid the spread of germs. Departments should provide pens and erasers to faculty who decide to use traditional whiteboards in classrooms. Many classrooms have digital whiteboards, such as a Wacom table, or a doc cam for faculty to use. These are encouraged over the use of whiteboards.  Please see the technology spreadsheet that lists technology in each classroom.
  • To support a COVID-resistant environment, UIT has modified its tech support procedure for fall 2020. Please refer to the fall 2020 Tech Support Procedure. UIT is also working toward allocating resources to provide on-site classroom technology support during the first few weeks of the semester to instructors. Details will be shared as they are finalized.
  • Accommodations for students who are deaf and/or hard of hearing: Disability Services for Students (DSS) is anticipating working with several students who may need academic accommodations regarding facial coverings. The use of facial coverings may be a barrier to some students as it eliminates their ability to read lips. Accommodations to reduce this barrier may include asking instructors to wear a face mask with a transparent (see-through) covering. DSS will contact instructors as necessary and will supply the masks. The masks were ordered and approved by the UND Office of Public Safety. You may also elect to directly request transparent masks through your department contact for ordering supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an instructor, if you are asked to support this accommodation and have any questions or concerns or if a student asks you to wear a transparent facial covering and you need assistance, please contact the Disability Services for Students office at (701) 777-2664 or at dss@und.edu. The DSS staff would be happy to discuss options with you.
  • Student privacy: A document titled “Student Privacy and Best Practices for Virtual and Recorded Class Sessions” is posted on the VPAA website. It provides information for faculty on how to protect student privacy while they record live class sessions.
  • In a previous email, faculty were informed that they could keep one classroom door open when the classroom was occupied. The Office of Safety requests that classroom doors be closed at the end of each teaching session to adhere to fire safety requirements.International students: In a recent announcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), issued guidance for the fall 2020 semester on July 6, 2020. That guidance, which did not allow international students to be fully enrolled in online courses, was subsequently rescinded on July 14. We have communicated updates to our international students. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate what we know with our international students who are an important part of our community.
  • As mentioned in the last faculty email update, UND has received CARES funding to support faculty and staff technology needs.  We have collected faculty technology requests from department chairs and UIT will reach out to the college contact if there are additional questions related to the requests.  Once the faculty requirement list has been finalized, UIT will bulk order and distribute equipment to college contacts. UIT will reach out to individual faculty to discuss transferring data from their existing device to the new device. UIT is now collecting information on staff technology needs.
  • CARES funding has also been approved to support laptops for students with financial need. A small team of student finance and academic affairs professionals are identifying eligible students. Approximately 3,400 students, including undergraduate, graduate, law and medical, will receive a laptop through this CARES funding. A process for how eligible students can order laptops is being established.
  • COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation Plans and Contact Tracing Plans for students:
    • The University is working with the North Dakota Department of Health and Grand Forks Public Health to assist in contact tracing of positive cases and any associated close contacts. This will help UND quickly assist students, faculty, and staff in meeting isolation or quarantine requirements with minimal disruption to  academic, teaching, or working obligations.
    • All students, faculty, and staff are asked to report if they are in a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation so appropriate contact tracing and disinfection of UND spaces can occur. Students will receive directions and protocol for self-reporting. Report information in either of the following ways:
      • Submit an online reporting form at: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/w/ss2x4cq9238u
      • For students: Call the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities (OSRR) at 701.777.2664. Students should leave a voicemail message with their name, phone number, and student ID if they call outside of normal business hours or if their call is not answered. OSRR staff will call the student back to gather additional information.
      • For faculty or staff: Call your area’s UND Human Resources Manager and submit an online reporting form at: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/w/ss2x4cq9238u.
    • When the University learns that a student has tested positive or is a close contact and has been placed in quarantine or isolation, a staff member from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities will reach out to the student to discuss the situation. They will continue to communicate with the student periodically throughout the quarantine or isolation period.
    • The student will receive information regarding working with their instructors to continue coursework. The information may include requests to continue the course remotely (if possible), course arrangements and adjustments due to the quarantine or isolation, options for having absence notifications sent out on behalf of the student, and other options that may benefit the student if the student is unable to continue with the course.
    • Faculty members are encouraged to work with students during their quarantine or isolation period to allow the student to continue to participate and progress in their coursework. If this is not possible, other options include: exploring alternative academic courses with the student’s academic advisor, requesting an incomplete for a specific course, and facilitating a late drop/withdrawal if the student is unable to finish or perform well in the course due to the quarantine or isolation.
    • The OSRR staff member will also discuss how students can utilize many campus services remotely during the quarantine or isolation period. The campus resources include, but are not limited to, the University Counseling Center, Housing, Dining Services, Student Health Services, One-Stop Student Services, program specific contacts, and academic advising.
  • Information on North Dakota’s COVID-19 cases, number of ICU beds, 14 day trends and more is available at these reputable sites:
  • As you prepare for the fall semester, you are encouraged to embrace inclusion and diversity within your curriculum and classroom policies in support of student success. UND is home to a diverse student body, including cultural and religious diversity. As such, please be mindful of holidays and religious observances, as well as possible weekly worship observances, when scheduling significant course assignments, such as examinations or extensive projects. At the beginning of the semester, instructors may remind students to speak with them privately to request reasonable accommodations for classroom assignments and/or examinations to allow them to observe religious holidays and/or events. To assist the UND community, please find an adapted calendar of holidays and religious observances for the upcoming academic year, along with additional religious and spirituality resources, at https://und.edu/student-life/student-involvement/cross-cultural/interfaith.html The calendar lists many, though likely not all, days of religious or similar observance of the faiths most likely to be represented at UND. Please feel free to use these resources as a starting point for collaborative conversations about religious observations and course schedules. For additional information and/or resources, please reach out to Student Diversity & Inclusion at studentdiversity@und.edu.

As we near the start of the fall semester, we know there will be more questions. A faculty Zoom forum is scheduled for Tuesday, July 28th, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Please send any questions you have to our faculty senate leaders Jeff VanLooy or Liz Legerski who are collecting them for the faculty Zoom forum. Please join us as we will do our best to answer additional questions. To join, click this URL: https://und.zoom.us/j/92372320616?pwd=cnFtbVN2U01iMmdwcDROQmd3Zmx4Zz09, Password: 168127.

Be well,

Debbie Storrs
Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs