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Dear Colleagues,

Our campus and the College of LAS continue to make contingency plans related to the COVID-19 virus. Please read this entire message. It contains important information for LAS faculty members, teaching assistants, and staff.

Potentially moving classes online
At this time, we do not know whether or when in-person instruction and assessment will be suspended. We anticipate campus guidance on that decision imminently. But the rapidly evolving situation suggests that we need to begin preparing today.

In preparing for an interruption of in-person instruction, our highest priority is to continue providing our students with a high-quality education. If we cannot provide that education in person, we must do our best to provide it remotely. This will require creativity, flexibility, and commitment from everyone, but our students deserve our best effort.

Beginning immediately, all tenure-track faculty, specialized faculty, and teaching assistants leading an in-person course this semester should develop plans and materials for delivering the remaining course lessons and assessments online. We would like all courses prepped for online delivery as soon as possible. Again, we believe that the campus will provide guidance in the very near future. 

The ATLAS office of Teaching and Learning Technologies has assembled resources to assist you. This page contains information and links to tutorials about hosting a course online. In addition, the campus will provide supplemental information over the next few days with guidelines and resources for moving classes online. Feel free to work with the ATLAS and/or campus resources.

We recognize that preparing mid-semester to transition your courses online will require substantial effort. We do not expect you to create a polished online course such as you would construct if you had planned to develop one with ample time and resources. We recognize that not all instructors are comfortable with the tools and methods we propose to temporarily move a course’s activities online. We encourage you to collaborate. Share your solutions with your colleagues. If you are relatively comfortable with online teaching or the technology that enables it, please assist your colleagues if you are able to do so.

We are assuming that most people will deliver their online courses from their on-campus offices and facilities. If you are unable to do so and do not have internet access at your place of residence, do your best with whatever mobile devices you have at your disposal.

Talking with your students
In communications with your undergraduate or graduate students, remind them to be aware of U.S. government and campus travel advisories (see the campus COVID-19 web page for details). Also, let them know that if they leave town they may be unable to return right away. They should take whatever equipment and course materials they will need, in case it becomes necessary for them to continue their studies and work remotely.

Staff and faculty in non-teaching roles
The University and Illinois Human Resources (IHR) continue to closely monitor the impact COVID-19 may have on our employees. They have created a web page where information and resources are currently posted and where they will post additional information. In this rapidly evolving environment, this website will be updated as needed.

As we await additional information from IHR, we encourage you to evaluate how well you would be able to perform work from home, if need be. Do you have the appropriate equipment (e.g., laptop/desktop) to perform some of your duties? Do you have access to broadband Wi-Fi/Internet connection? Talk with each other and your supervisor about what duties you can perform from home, and develop plans for how your unit will cover duties that cannot be performed remotely in the event that some departmental personnel are quarantined.

More information
The College of LAS has a page specifically for faculty, teaching assistants, and staff that carries COVID-19-related information and links to helpful pages on campus.

The main campus COVID-19 web page contains the latest information about the campus response, links to Massmail updates, links to public health web pages including the CDC, and other general information.

If you have any questions about maintaining instruction through the end of the semester, contact your unit executive officer, ATLAS, or the LAS Office of the Dean.

Finally, I want to express my deep appreciation for the work you are doing. Through this challenging and uncertain time, we will do our best to maintain the college’s research, teaching, and public engagement efforts. Exceptional quality and dedication define the work of LAS. Thank you for what you do to contribute to those every day.

Best wishes,

Feng Sheng Hu
Harry E. Preble Dean

Ralph E. Grim Professor