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OU interim provost announces policy updates, other COVID-19 resources available for faculty on OU Together website

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Jill Irvine (copy)

Jill Irvine, interim provost and senior vice president. 

Interim Provost and Senior Vice President Jill Irvine sent an email to faculty Thursday detailing a set of resources that has been added to the OU Together webpage to assist instructional faculty in fall course preparation. 

“Your recent efforts to contribute to solutions that promote our educational objectives while prioritizing health and safety standards have been momentous,” Irvine said in the email.

The page hosts a variety of resources for instructional faculty about aspects of the upcoming fall semester including the masking policy, instructional continuity and the Phase III return to Norman’s campus. 

Instructional faculty have been provided the Masking Resolution Process to help enforce the university’s masking policy. According to the website, this process includes the use of Masking Mentors, the “123 PPE De-escalation Process” and the accountability and enforcement processes for this policy. 

Masking Mentors are defined as all faculty, staff and student employees. They are expected to utilize the accountability and enforcement processes for the masking policy. 

“As official representatives of the university, it is important these individuals demonstrate the appropriate health and safety behaviors outlined in the University Mandatory Masking Policy,” the webpage read. “In addition to serving as masking role models, Masking Mentors will work to hold individuals accountable who are not following the aforementioned policies and procedures.”

According to the webpage, the “123 PPE De-escalation Process” is broken down into three steps: announce, address and act, and the process should be facilitated at the beginning of class.

Instructional faculty are encouraged to make a pre-written announcement to their classes and to utilize the PowerPoint slides provided by the university. 

Should a student refuse to wear a mask or make an accommodation exempting them from the mask policy, instructors are to ask the students in question to leave the room, take note of the students, schedule a mandatory meeting with the appropriate administrator and provide notice to the Office of Student Conduct via the Mask Reporting Form, according to the webpage. 

According to the webpage, the accountability process is also broken into three parts. For the first instance of refusing to comply with the masking policy, students will face an informal resolution pathway. For the second instance, they will face a formal resolution that could include a $25 administrative fee paid to the Office of Student Conduct. And for the third instance, students will face a final resolution that could lead to suspension.

The webpage also provides instructional faculty with continuity guidance for in-person classes. These recommendations are to address the potential for students to be absent from class due to quarantining or illness, or for a shift to online-only instruction. 

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Provide course content, assignments, and assessments on Canvas

  • Use instructional technology to record lectures and post them on Canvas

  • Identify any hardware needs that exist to enable instructional continuity

  • Consider how to adjust course attendance policies to avoid negative impact on students who become ill or are required to isolate

  • Include in the syllabus discussion of and links to important policies, including masking policy, COVID screening and reporting tool, integrity policy and non-discrimination policy. 

  • Keep an updated gradebook, ideally in Canvas

  • An updated gradebook that is shared with another trusted individual, such as a course TA, colleague or department chair, will ensure that student grade information is maintained in case of instructor absence

  • Confirm that TAs, class facilitators and any other individuals responsible for class, lab, studio or other student experiences have all necessary resources, including class materials, technology and PPE, to conduct the tasks for which they are responsible

  • Coordinate office hours and other student interactions to allow students to participate online if in isolation; all online classes should include synchronous online office hours and interactions, and in-person classes should offer at least some online synchronous interaction options

  • Promote open communication with students so that they understand how and why the course structure and requirements may change, and encourage students to share challenges and concerns they are facing

  • Practice masking and proper hygiene in classroom environments and require students to do the same

  • Ensure that you attend to college, department and unit guidelines regarding instructional continuity, which may differ due to degree requirements, accreditation requirements or other circumstances

The webpage also addresses that there will be flexibility in annual evaluations for 2020.

“Because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of faculty work, causing disruptions for faculty in achieving their teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity and service goals, it is important to approach faculty evaluation for 2020, and potentially beyond, with creativity, flexibility and understanding,” the webpage read. 

The webpage also provides details on the extension of the pre-tenure probationary period due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to OU’s faculty handbook, this probationary period “is the period of employment in an academic rank prior to the time tenure is granted for those faculty hired as tenure track faculty.”

According to the webpage, “all pre-tenure faculty whose appointment began on or before January 2020 are eligible to request a one-year extension to their probationary period due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 virus.”

Irvine said in the email that anyone with questions or concerns should contact her or Vice Provost for Faculty Lori Snyder and that the webpage will be updated in the coming weeks.

news reporter

Jordan Hayden is a journalism junior serving as a news reporter and copy editor at The Daily. Previously she served as the fall 2018 and spring 2019 assistant engagement editor.

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