March 12, 2020
Dear Campus Community:
In response to the increasing number of confirmed cases in and around our region and in light of the fact that many of our sister CSU campuses are currently taking actions to mitigate risk, we have secured approval from the Chancellor’s Office and support from our Academic Senate to take a phased approach to a suspension of face-to-face classes at both our Turlock and Stockton campuses.
To be clear, our campus currently remains safe. The following measures are being taken to mitigate risk to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff and to limit the spread of the COVID-19 within our campus communities.
Continuity of Instruction
In the continued interest of health and safety, Stanislaus State and the Academic Senate are encouraging all faculty to transition as soon as possible from face-to-face instruction to alternative modes of instruction that do not require face-to-face meetings, including distributed and fully virtual modalities. We are aware of some faculty who have already begun to move their courses in this direction. Current classes held in virtual space will continue to be offered as such.
Fully virtual means that all course material is delivered through a web-based format, whereas a distributed class may include aspects of digital or web-supported formats, such as synchronous live lectures delivered from one’s office or distributed materials that are returned to the instructor via a variety of modalities. These options should provide maximum flexibility to each instructor within the confines of this very challenging public health environment. We are not asking or suggesting that faculty completely redesign their courses into online formats; rather, we support the notion referenced by the Department of Education that faculty should strive to maintain frequent and deliberate communication with their students necessary for academic progress.
Leading up to spring break, March 23-27, the transition to fully online or distributed classes shall be voluntary at the discretion of the faculty. A total of four days will be designated for faculty to make preparations for a transition to alternate teaching modalities — two days prior to spring break (March 19-20) as well as two days after spring break (March 30 and April 1). Effective April 2, all courses shall be conducted using fully online or distributed modalities, with some possible exceptions — for example, critical lab classes of smaller size, field courses, courses with a clinical component, and art studios — will be granted on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the deans of the appropriate colleges. Faculty must obtain permission from their respective dean as soon as possible if they want to continue teaching in an in-person format after April 2. In each case of approval, the dean may ask for clarification about how the course design can be modified to reduce transmission risk (e.g., lab classes broken up into different rooms or art studio design time spread out). We know that this work is not easy and appreciate everyone’s best effort to meet the needs of our students while also keeping our community safe.
Our Office of Academic Technology (OAT) is offering training and course material assistance to faculty adopting virtual methods for their classes. This can be found on the Instructional Continuity webpage. Students can find information on utilizing online tools on the OIT Student Services page.
We know there will be questions regarding the administration of final exams. We are currently working to offer alternative modes of test delivery. More information will be forthcoming.
It will also be important for faculty with students who are currently receiving accommodation through Disability Resource Services (DRS) to stay in contact with Disability Resource Services, as they transition to alternative teaching modalities. If new accommodation requests emerge as a result of the transition, please contact DRS.
Stanislaus State is not closed; business, academic and other services are continuing, with certain exceptions, such as study abroad options. Also, Stanislaus State’s current fully online classes will continue to be offered as such.
While there are two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Stanislaus County, one confirmed case in San Joaquin County, and two confirmed cases in Calaveras County, we remain within Scenario 1 of the CDPH Higher Education Guidance on Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 and will remain fully open for normal business.
Campus Events and Gatherings
With the guidance of the California Department of Public Health and the CSU, Stanislaus State will make decisions to cancel or delay campus events, to include large-scale events and meetings based on the following criteria:
- Large gatherings that include 250 people or more should be postponed or cancelled.
- Smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or cancelled.
- Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people.
- A “gathering” is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space.
This applies to all non-essential professional, social, and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor. Faculty and staff event organizers should consult with vice presidents or deans overseeing their respective areas on decisions regarding campus events.
For all events and meetings, regardless of the size, the University is instituting rigorous environmental cleaning before and after the event/meeting, as well as encouraging the practice of preventive behaviors (e.g., providing hand sanitizer, tissue, etc.).
Because University operations remain open, facilities will be available for students and faculty to use as they engage in teaching and learning in alternate formats. The University Library, Enrollment Services, Student Housing, the Warrior Food Pantry, Psychological Counseling Services, the Student Health Center, the Financial Aid office and all other student affairs departments will remain open. Advising also will be available virtually. Services at the Stockton Campus will remain open.
Guidance for Personal and University Travel
Following updated guidance from the CSU, all University-related international and non-essential domestic travel is suspended. Please contact your appropriate dean or vice president if an exception is needed or if you have questions. If possible, please reconsider your Spring Break plans if they involve air travel — especially to states in the US or countries where the COVID-19 epidemic is active and/or evolving. Students, faculty or staff continuing with their current personal travel plans, especially to international locations, should be sure to review the CDC’s travel advisories and US State Department Travel Advisories before commencing travel. Before traveling, students should verify the terms of their health insurance coverage and determine what types of health care, and what circumstances will be covered if they travel out-of-state or to another country.
As this is a swiftly changing environment, the Stanislaus State Infectious Disease Response Team in collaboration with our local and state health agencies, the Academic Senate and the Associated Students, Inc. continue to monitor and assess the local, national and global COVID-19 situation daily to inform additional decisions we may need to make as a campus. Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of all members of our community, and each of us has a personal responsibility to help ensure individual and community health. Thank you for your continued attention to this evolving global situation. Visit the University Updates and FAQs page to stay informed about the COVID-19 outbreak and steps Stan State is taking to keep the campus and community safe.
Thank you for your understanding, flexibility and support. Together, we will manage the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Speaker, Academic Senate
President, Associated Students, Inc.