Here are all of the emails we've sent about the pandemic and the University's response, in reverse chronological order:
May 8, 1:18 p.m. – FAUW COVID-19: 2020 teaching & potential changes to your employment status
Survey about spring and fall teaching
FAUW wants to capture a snapshot of our members' experiences preparing for teaching in the 2020 spring and fall terms as of early May. This information will help us to properly advocate for your interests now and in the future.
Please complete this short survey by Wednesday, May 13, at noon. The survey should take you about three minutes to complete. [The survey is now closed and links have been removed.]
Potential changes to your employment status
We’re aware that administrators are starting to reach out to members regarding reduced workload to retirement, early retirement, and unpaid leaves of absence. If you are considering any of these options, we encourage you, in the strongest possible way, to talk to our AF&T team first as they will help you identify the most appropriate solution for your situation (which could be an alternate to that being offered). This way, you can be as informed as possible when you speak to your chair or dean.
March 19, 12:10 p.m. – FAUW COVID-19: New remote assessment resources
I sincerely hope you are doing as best you can during this incredibly stressful and worrisome time. FAUW is doing our best to figure out how to help you adjust to our new reality. The FAUW Executive team is meeting remotely twice a day and of course working many hours beyond that.
We know that you are working hard, too. We are cognizant of information overload for all of you. We know you might be getting some messages multiple times, but we also know that some key information might get lost, so we want to communicate the most important messages to you.
– Bryan Tolson
New remote assessment resources
Crowdmark is running webinars twice a day right now. The Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) recommends Crowdmark when students need to give full solutions, draw graphs or figures, or show their work. It also allows TAs to participate in marking remotely. It doesn’t offer auto-grading; for auto-graded multiple-choice exams, CEL recommends Mobius or LEARN quizzes. The Crowdmark webinars are running every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., including the weekend, until March 24. This is the link to join a webinar.
Keep Learning has new resources online today about final exams, including information that will help you determine whether the Crowdmark “Assigned Assessment” tool will work for you. Step-by-step instructions for creating these assessments are on the UW Crowdmark website.
Getting through this together
Adjusting the ways in which we teach, do research, and provide service may not be easy and is likely to have far-reaching impacts (e.g., your ability to publish). FAUW is monitoring the administration’s response as well as those from other agencies. Please know that we have your back, even if we are unable to respond to individual emails quickly right now.
Some things to keep in mind as we all navigate this situation:
- In emergencies, triaging is necessary. Take a moment to take stock and triage the onslaught of decisions that need to be made, knowing that you cannot deal with everything at once. Use the resources provided by the university, ask your colleagues for their input if you think they can help, provide assistance to others if you think you have come up with innovative ways to deal with teaching or research issues.
- Everyone copes differently in a crisis. The compounding effect of changes to our professional and personal lives may be hard to keep up with. If someone’s responses seem off the mark, please consider the possible underlying anxiety, frustration and/or exhaustion. Let’s be easy on ourselves and each other.
- Like you, our chairs, directors, associate deans, and senior administrators have been working non-stop to address the concerns pouring in. There will be gaps, but we ask that you consider the work behind the scenes and offer some understanding and appreciation for those trying to help. They are triaging as well. Consider how you can be helpful (for example, you may wish to limit email communication to critical, time-sensitive issues).
- Students are among the most vulnerable groups impacted in our university community. Checking in to see if they are ok and acknowledging the challenges they are facing can go a long way. Compassion and readjusted priorities will likely be necessary for the time being.
March 16, 5:13 p.m. – FAUW COVID-19: Frequently asked questions
We are working hard to keep up with this fast-moving situation. Please remember that we are in extraordinary times and the university is not functioning anywhere near capacity given the directive to work from home if possible. Know that we are committed to supporting you, but we ask you to remain patient. At this point, we are prioritizing collective issues. We realize individual issues are also important to you and FAUW will pick up on them once the university is back at full capacity.
It is time for faculty to unite in support of each other, our students, and our staff colleagues. We should begin by heeding the advice of public health officials, while providing students with the essentials to adequately complete the term. We now have responses to common concerns about teaching evaluations, tenure, performance reviews, etc. on our website.
March 16, 11:16 a.m. – FAUW COVID-19 – Appeal to students re: Ezra Avenue party
We know from the recent student engagement survey that students see faculty as a highly trusted source of information on campus. You may wish to build on this trust and reach out to your students right now about the importance of social distancing in relation to the Ezra Avenue St. Patrick’s Day party planned for tomorrow. Here is a sample message you can use or adapt if you choose:
We know there is a lot of buzz about the Ezra Avenue party. Please understand that this year it is imperative that you avoid it. Please decide right now that you are not going and advocate as aggressively as you can that all your friends and colleagues do not gather. Please, you need to be worried about your health, the health of your family and friends, and the health of your community.
March 16, 10:34 a.m. – FAUW COVID-19 – Update March 16
FAUW has received many questions from you about how to move forward at work, given the rapid changes and the various levels of guidance (from UW, from public health, etc.). We hear you, and here is where FAUW is at as of 10:30 this morning:
- Last week I reached out and brought in Dr. Shannon Majowicz from our School of Public Health and Health Systems, as a temporary advisor to FAUW on the COVID-19 pandemic. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist who worked for 10 years with the Public Health Agency of Canada (including during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic). She is helping us craft our plans and messages, and we are grateful she is stepping up in this way.
- We will send more guidance very soon. By the end of the today, there will be new measures and guidance for you provided via:
- An 11 am ET announcement by Premier Ford.
- A 1 pm ET announcement by the Prime Minister.
- An expected announcement by the University by the end of the day.
- One more email from FAUW by end of day addressing some common questions we are hearing. This email will be informed by what we hear provincially, federally, and from the University.
Support each other. Listen to public health officials and work to enact their suggestions (e.g., now we should all be practicing social distancing). These are unique times. We can weather the storm.
March 13, 3:30 p.m. – FAUW COVID-19 – In-person class suspension
FAUW strongly supports the University’s decision today to end all in-person class activity for this term. We believe that social distancing is the right move for the University and the broader community at this time and encourage our members to embrace this approach. We are in a rapidly changing situation and expect more details to emerge as things evolve.
For our part, all FAUW events are postponed indefinitely and we are working to move meetings online, including the Spring General Meeting.
The University is providing time and resources to help you determine how best to deliver the rest of your courses. The University is allowing you to use your expertise and academic freedom to decide the best way to wrap up your classes this term. The Provost’s memo from earlier this week still stands: You may assign a final mark based on work to-date if appropriate, or have an alternative assignment or a take-home or online exam.
Remember: You are trying to help your students across the finish line at a difficult time. Be compassionate with them and yourself, and don’t expect that your hastily-transitioned course will be a model of technology mediated learning. It’s ok if it’s just ok. This is a challenging time for everyone, but we are confident that our members will rise to this occasion.
Visit the Keep Learning website for options for online course delivery. Please refer to the University’s Coronavirus Information website for resources and up-to-date information. We will post our own updates on our website. You can direct questions about teaching to your associate dean. We are also in direct communication with the administration.
If you are struggling and need support, we encourage you to use the Employee & Family Assistance Program. Counselling is available by phone and online.
March 13, 10:19 a.m. – FAUW COVID-19 – General Update
We have heard from many of you this week about COVID-19. Thank you for sending your questions and concerns, which we share. I want to tell you what FAUW is currently doing, and what you can expect from us in the next few days.
RE: teaching, we understand your concerns about the vague instructions sent to instructors yesterday. We hope to have clarity from the University mid-day today about what this means for each of you/your courses. We will communicate more about this later today. If we don’t get clear guidance from the University today, we will provide you with our interpretation of the memo and options for implementing changes in response.
For our part, all FAUW events are postponed indefinitely and we are working to move meetings online. We’ll provide more details about this shortly on our website.
I know there are other issues unfolding as well, and I will communicate with you regularly as I get information. We will respond to your emails in priority order, starting with issues that impact many of you. Please note that we will likely not respond to individual-level concerns very quickly, and that this timeline will no doubt be affected by how the pandemic plays out.
We’ve heard that not all of our members are receiving communications from the University. We’ve included at the end of this email that was intended for all employees yesterday. We will continue to forward University communications until we get confirmation that this issue has been resolved. You should have also received communication from your Faculty about options for teaching.
Our most important priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our community of faculty, staff and students. I recognize this is a stressful time for all of us, and I will do my best to help by providing regular communication.