Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Faculty Message from Provost Larson

Emailed on November 11, 2018

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Our thoughts go out to you and our campus community in this difficult time.  We hope you and yours are safe and secure.  As the days unfold we realize that we are experiencing a disaster of historic proportions. 

In light of the University’s recent announcement that classes will be canceled until Monday, November 26, we know that you are thinking about how best to complete your courses in this shortened time frame.  We have put together this list of questions and answers that we hope will be helpful as we work towards a successful end of the semester.

Please be aware that the decision to cancel classes was carefully weighed against the gravity of the emergency and its widespread impact.  We appreciate your commitment to delivering the University’s essential mission, but recognize that we will all be making major adjustments to our normal activities.

We ask that you rely on the principles of consistency and equity as you make each course-related decision, keeping in mind that some of our students are newly homeless; others may lack access to computers, books, and other necessary materials; and all are coping with the unexpected stress of the crisis.

1. Question: Can I continue to teach during the closure by delivering course material online?

Answer:  No.  The emergency closure requires that course instruction is suspended from Thursday, November 8 at 3 PM through Friday, November 16 at midnight, at which point Thanksgiving break begins.  The University has formally declared an emergency and this suspension is consistent with that declaration.

2.  Question: Can I require students to submit or complete any work while classes are canceled?

Answer: No.  All deadlines must be postponed until after classes resume.  Due dates for assignments that were scheduled to be due during the closure must be extended until Monday, November 26 at the earliest.  No additional work may be assigned during campus closure or Thanksgiving break.  Please exercise flexibility and compassion in your expectations of what students can accomplish over this break.

3.  Question: Can I reschedule or add additional classes once the campus is reopened?

Answer: No.  Rescheduling classes outside of the regular schedule presents many challenges of logistics and fairness to those whose schedules cannot accommodate the additional meetings. 

4.  Question: If I can’t make up classes, how should I decide what to focus on for the remainder of the semester?

Answer:  Please let your course learning outcomes guide this decision.  Determine what is the most essential learning in the course that has not yet occurred and prioritize this material in the remaining class sessions.  Please do not attempt to force all the remaining activities into the last two weeks of the semester.  Increasing student workload in this way will be very burdensome, especially if done across multiple courses. 

5.  Question: Can I stay in touch with my students during the closure? 

Answer: Of course.  Course-related communication and general messages of support are encouraged.  

6.  Question: I teach a course in a low-residency program that has concentrated instruction over a number of weekends. How can I make up for this significant lost time?  

Answer: These programs will require special accommodations.  Please work with your college dean to arrange alternative schedules or assignments on or after November 26.

7.  What about my SETs?

Answer:  The SET administration schedule is being adjusted to accommodate the closure.  More information about this will be forthcoming. 

8.  Question: Can I access and use my office when the campus is closed?

Answer: As President Hutchinson stated in her November 9th e-mail to the campus community, “campus operations also will remain closed to faculty, staff, and student employees through Friday, November 16.”  If you have further questions, please contact your college dean. 

9.  Question: Can I completely cancel any exams or assignments due the week of November 13-16?

Answer: Yes.  However, if the exam or assignment is part of an essential learning outcome for the course, it should be rescheduled or redesigned.  If you do move the exam or assignment, be sure to reduce another part of the coursework to avoid burdening impacted students. Any such changes may require adjustments to how course grades are determined.  In this circumstance, do your best to communicate any revisions to all of your students in writing, utilizing all possible communication channels. 

10. May I use the final exam period for replaced instructional time? 

Answer: Yes.  Campus policy established by EM 17-004 states that “all classes are required to meet for one two-hour period during finals week for instruction or examination.” 

11. Can I extend exam or assignment deadlines past the December 21 end of the semester?

Answer: No. The academic calendar remains intact.  We will address related issues in forthcoming updates to these FAQs.

12. Question: What support will my students have while the campus is closed? How can I help?  

Answer: Activities and support systems will be in place for students who remain on campus. Please see the new Wildcats Rise website which is a one-stop shop for the campus community to discover needed resources and ways to help.  This site also offers a set of general University FAQs that you may find useful. We encourage you to reach out to students with messages of support and concern.  A friendly word from their instructor can have a great impact on students facing an unexpected and stressful interruption in their semester.  

13. Question: My students and I are stressed.  Is there someone they or I can talk to?

Answer: Absolutely.  Nothing is more important than the well-being of you, our students, and our staff.  Counseling services will continue to be available. Students can call the Counseling and Wellness Center 24/7 at 530-898-6345. Faculty and staff can also utilize 24/7 counseling through the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-367-7474 or mylifematters.com (password: csuchico).

14. I have more questions.  Where can I get help?  

Answer: This list will be posted on the Wildcats Rise website and will be continually updated as we work to resolve the challenges of the situation.  Please direct additional questions to your college dean, who will provide guidance to you and will forward issues to us for incorporation into this list. 

While this emergency may limit your ability to cover all the material you had intended, it is an opportunity for another kind of learning for all of us--about our priorities, our connectedness, and our care for one another.  

With deep appreciation and care,

Debra Larson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Daniel Grassian, Vice Provost for Academic Programs
Kate McCarthy, Interim Dean of Undergraduate Education