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Update on coronavirus and alternative teaching arrangements


Dear Colleagues,

The FSU Executive Committee informed you in an email on Tuesday, March 10th that members of the Executive Committee and the Core Bargaining Team were meeting with the Provost on Wednesday afternoon. 

This email is to update you all on what we learned at our meeting with the Provost yesterday and what we know as of this morning. The University’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is very fluid right now.  We will continue to communicate as we receive more information. 

All classes are suspended for the rest of this week.  Online/alternative teaching will take place March 23rd to April 3rd

  • It is possible this period of online/alternate teaching will be extended.  The President’s office will revisit to determine if the need to continue teaching online is required.
  • We asked for the week after Spring break (March 23 to 28) to be a no class period so that we can prepare the necessary materials. This request was denied.
  • We asked the Provost to convene a panel of faculty and staff experts on campus to create a guide of best practices for the move to online teaching.  This request was denied. The Provost said that information on best practices will be provided. 
  • The FSU’s top priority is protecting the health of members of the UMB community.  We urged the Provost to do whatever is necessary to ensure that people who are at high risk from exposure to the disease are able to stay off campus without loss of pay and benefits. 

The campus is open, not formally closed

  • Faculty can come to campus to use the facilities, including teaching labs.
  • Starting today, only essential staff will continue to come to campus.
  • Graduate student teaching and research assistants will continue to receive contracted financial aid and stipends through this online teaching period.
  • Our concern remains with your health.  Those with health issues that put them at greater risk should request and can receive appropriate accommodations.

Delivery of course materials

  • Faculty can select the teaching platform mentioned in the Provost email (Blackboard, Zoom, etc.) or one that the faculty member chooses. Or teach in whatever method faculty deem appropriate.
  • If you have questions on the platforms, contact Apurva Mehta.
  • IT is scheduling training on Blackboard and other platforms.
  • Faculty retain all intellectual property rights to their course materials, including your lectures that are placed into online teaching software.
  • The Provost made it clear the administration understands that the first week(s) of online teaching will be a challenging learning process for all involved.  Faculty are not expected to have a "finished product" ready to go on March 23 but to have made arrangements to switch modalities to provide educational continuity.  

Access to technology

  • Faculty and students who need a laptop for online teaching may be able to use a loaner.  Please contact Apurva Mehta.
  • We raised concerns about students who do not have access to Wi-Fi.  Administration suggested they can come to campus for this use. 
  • The Interim provost also suggested that students can do much of their coursework on their phones.  The FSU leadership reminded upper administration that not all students have smartphones and/or access to unlimited data.

Faculty travel

  • All international and domestic travel for work is prohibited for the next 30 days. 
  • For those of you who already booked travel with non-refundable tickets, hotels, etc., they will ensure that no one suffers out of pocket loss of travel funds, but they will require documentation that the funds are non-refundable.
  • Rollover FSU Travel funds to next year? Right now, there is no assurance of this, but they may be able to do this on a case by case basis (if a conference in June is rescheduled to October, for example),


  • We asked for flexibility on the pass-fail deadline.  The reply was that it would be addressed when the time arrives.
  • We expressed concern at the loss of pay for cafeteria workers and cleaning staff.
  • We were told that cleaning common areas has been increased.
  • Additional shuttle buses have been added; but we expressed that these have been insufficient.  
  • We asked for parking pass reimbursements. The reply was that we will not be reimbursed for parking passes.

We will update you as we learn more.

From the FSU Executive Committee

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