This message was sent on Jan. 5, 2022.
Dear Faculty Colleagues:
Welcome back after what we hope has been a truly restful break. We cannot overstate how appreciative we are of the impressive efforts by each of you in making the best of Wake Forest shine through despite the challenges and uncertainty of this period.
As you prepare to return, here is additional information about the upcoming semester, some observations and lessons from the fall, and some reminders and clarifications about our College and University expectations and protocols.
True to form, COVID-19 has continued to evolve new challenges for us, and Omicron presents all of higher education with another set of necessary adjustments, but we are confident that our vaccinated, boostered, and masked campus community, along with our latest campus modifications, means we are well prepared to provide our students with a terrific, in-person education beginning this semester.
We ask that all colleagues keep these key department-level matters in mind:
- It is Wake Forest’s expectation that classes will start in-person and masked indoors. Remote modality is not approved as an alternative to in-person meetings. As noted in the “faculty class modality information,” in the Sept. 7 edition of the Dean’s Office Digest and subsequent communications, faculty have options if they or their families find themselves confronting COVID-19 complications. Please let Department Chairs and/or the Office of the Dean of the College know if you are struggling with such complications so that we can be supportive.
- At least through January, if you are conducting searches for faculty or staff, please plan any in-person searches to follow university public health guidance, including no indoor food and drink. In the case that travel is not possible for one or more candidates due to the pandemic, please shift all interviews to a “virtual” campus visit, or postpone in-person interviews until later in the semester. If you choose to shift to virtual interviews, know that this shift, while not ideal for getting to know potential new colleagues, preserves equity in the interview process. If you have any questions about making this pivot, please reach out to Associate Dean Erica Still.
- Remind students in your department of key academic deadlines, like the last day to drop a class, and urge them to consult the Academic Services Calendar.
- The University will be releasing a January 2022 Indoor Events Protocol Document on the Our Way Forward site this week. Please reference and follow the protocols for all department, program, and other college-based events.
As you are completing your syllabi and perhaps planning for contingencies for this spring, although we very much hope not to need them, we ask that you keep the following College and University policies in mind:
- Unless your course has been approved for online delivery by the Online Education Committee for Spring 2022, specifically, you should not offer remote modality options for your in-person classes. This is an essential matter related to accreditation, equity for all students, and faculty workloads.
- You are not required to provide remote access to students who cannot attend class, either for medical or other reasons. Nor is there a College or University expectation for you to record lectures or host separate lectures or exams online (please refer to emails sent from the Dean of the College on Aug. 17 and Nov. 29 or the Sept. 7 edition of the Dean’s Office Digest for further details involving this important topic). Any remote support for students provided for illness should be short term and with the expectation that the student will return to in-person attendance. Students unable to complete the work of a course may be considered for the incomplete at your discretion and otherwise referred to the Office of Academic Advising.
- Please plan for the inclusive Teaching Day, April 21, and the expectation of a concomitant wellness day for students (to help make this day an effective day of rest and wellbeing for your students, please be light on work due the next day).
Here is a quick checklist of Do’s and Don’ts involving issues that continue to arise and are time-consuming to address once the semester has begun:
Things you can DO to support your students:
- Be mindful of key academic deadlines on the Academic Services Calendar and provide sufficient academic feedback for students in advance of dates, such as the last day to drop a course (1/27 for first part of term courses, 2/15 for full-term classes). This will keep all students well apprised of their academic status (and may prevent desperate last minute appeals and requests to faculty, chairs, and CAA).
- Turn in mid-term grades and on time (March 7, by noon) to ensure student learning success.
- Please honor periods of University breaks, pauses, or closures. For instance, do not assign tests, papers, etc. on the Monday after Spring Break or the expected April 21 wellness day for students.
- When in doubt about any academic issues with students, reach out to the Office of Academic Advising ASAP.
- Remind students of the vast academic support services available to them and refer them to the Office of Academic Advising for guidance and advice on academic exceptions, including but not limited to part-time status, medical late drops, and Continuous Enrollment Status.
- Consider assigning an Incomplete grade to students who fail to complete the work for your course due to extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control.
- Submit an Academic Alert early and often for any concerning student behavior inside or outside of the classroom.
- Make a CARE Team referral for any student exhibiting significant signs of distress or signs of being a threat to themselves or others. Alert the Office of Academic Advising if you are unsure of the severity of distress but discern some issue of concern.
Things you should NOT do:
- Do not engage directly with parents. Instead, refer parents to either the Office of Academic Advising or the Office of the Dean of the College. This is an important legal issue. You do not know which parents (or others) actually have official proxy access to student records such that disclosure may or may not be permissible under FERPA.
- Do not conduct in-person or remote engagements with your students on class issues (office hours, assignment/grade discussions) where parents have intervened.
- Do not provide ongoing remote access to students who cannot attend class, either for medical or other reasons. If in doubt about a situation, contact the Office of Academic Advising or the Office of the Dean of the College immediately.
- Do not wait until the last weeks or last days of class to submit an Academic Alert. Risk sounding the alarm too early rather than too late.
With tremendous gratitude and highest hopes for a terrific spring semester knowing we have the best faculty in the country engaging our students in truly tremendous learning opportunities,
Ashley Hairston, Associate Dean for Academic Advising
Anne Hardcastle, Associate Dean for Academic Planning
Erica Still, Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion
Michele Gillespie, Dean of the College