Office of the Provost

COVID-19 UPDATES

 

Return to On-Campus Work for Instructional Employees (Faculty & GSIs)

July 7, 2020

NOTE: While this framework applies to faculty and GSIs, we hope it will be instructive to the planning currently underway for staff return to on-campus work.

As announced by President Schlissel on June 22, 2020, the University of Michigan plans to offer a public health-informed in-residence semester this fall. It will consist of a mixture of in-person and remote classes structured to reflect our commitment to fulfilling our fundamental mission of transformative undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. This stems from a recognition that our transformative undergraduate, graduate, and professional educational experience encompasses meaningful interactions, active engagement with diverse thoughts and ideas, and a shared commitment to educational excellence and student success that is often best accomplished through in-person engagement.

As more faculty and GSIs return to campus for in-person instruction alongside undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, the University remains dedicated to the campus community’s health and safety. One key element to ensure the health and safety for all is to provide an equitable approach to developing and implementing our plans for instruction. While much work is underway at the school/college/unit level, many public health interventions will apply across all units, such as aggressive cleaning protocols, managed access to campus facilities, reconfigured spaces to maintain physical distancing, and required face coverings. The University will continue timely testing for symptomatic students, faculty and staff and working closely with local public health officials on contact tracing. The University is also developing baseline testing protocols for students in the fall and a ‘Culture of Care’ approach to promulgate safe behaviors. Comprehensive information about the steps the University is taking to keep our community safe is available in the 2020-21 Campus Maize and Blueprint, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

While the partnership between faculty, staff, graduate students, and leadership is an underpinning of our community, the current public health context necessitates thoughtful consideration of our shared responsibility to teach and learn together, as well as the need to protect our more vulnerable members in ways that we have not previously had to consider. The pandemic has differential impacts on members of our community, and our return to on-campus instruction will acknowledge this reality. We will utilize the best public health guidance to promote safety for all who are on campus as we move forward together.

Ensuring an equitable approach to instructional decision-making within and across units will require collaboration and partnership between central leadership, faculty/GSIs, and schools/colleges/units. It will also require a shared commitment to both delivering on our promise of a Michigan education and protecting those members of our teaching staff who are the most vulnerable. The following guidelines clarify these roles:

  1. 1. Consistent with the principles outlined above, faculty and GSIs who are at increased risk for severe illness will not be expected to teach in person. If they choose to, they will be able to teach remotely or will be given an alternative assignment, specifically:
    1. Faculty and GSIs who are age 65 or older; and
    2. In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, faculty and GSIs of any age with conditions identified by the CDC as being at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Currently, those who are at increased risk of severe illness are persons with the following conditions, but please check the CDC website for the latest information:
      1. Chronic kidney disease
      2. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
      3. Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
      4. Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
      5. Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
      6. Sickle cell disease
      7. Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  2. Consistent with the principles outlined above, schools/colleges/units will endeavor to accommodate requests for remote teaching from faculty and GSIs in the following groups:
    1. Faculty and GSIs who have a condition identified in the CDC Guidance that might place them at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (as opposed to the list in 1.b. of conditions that do place people at increased risk);
    2. Faculty and GSIs who reside with, or are the primary caregiver for, someone with one or more of the health conditions that place that person at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as specified in the CDC Guidance cited above in 1.b.; and
    3. Faculty and GSIs who may be unable to secure childcare during scheduled teaching times due to COVID-19.
  3. Faculty and GSIs will provide the following information to their appointing school/college/unit (which will set relevant deadlines, and is strongly encouraged to use the standard form provided by Academic HR):
    1. Self-identification of their status as a person who falls within one or more of the categories outlined in #1 above who chooses not to teach in-person; or
    2. Self-identification of their status as a person who falls within one or more of the categories outlined in #2 above who prefers not to teach in-person; or
    3. Self-identification of their strong preference not to teach on-campus for reasons other than those outlined in #1 or #2 above; or
    4. Self-identification of their preference to teach on-campus as needed to meet our shared responsibility to provide a residential experience to our students who return to campus in the fall; or
    5. Self-identification of their willingness to teach on-campus as needed, while preferring remote teaching; or
    6. Self-identification as someone who has no assigned teaching in the fall.
  4. Schools/colleges/units will:
    1. Designate courses that are essential for in-person instruction. This designation should ensure a robust set of course offerings across the unit while taking account of both the course content and the need for in person instruction. A robust list of remote course offerings should also be designated for those students who choose or are unable to be on campus;
    2. Schools/colleges/units will make their best efforts to support the teaching preferences of faculty and GSIs. It may not be possible to accommodate all requests and preferences in order to prioritize our most vulnerable faculty/GSIs. Schools/colleges/units will make every effort to apply the process consistently when assessing whether a request can be accommodated. Faculty and GSIs are encouraged to discuss any concerns about the process with their unit leadership, and with the dean’s office as needed.