Provost says faculty will be allowed to opt out of teaching classes in person

Media Credit: File Photo by Grace Hromin | Assistant Photo Editor

Provost Brian Blake said officials are "strongly encouraging" faculty to make their requests to opt out of teaching classes in person as soon as possible.

Faculty will have the option to opt out of teaching classes in person this fall, Provost Brian Blake said.

Blake said officials sent a form to faculty members earlier this month after “several weeks” of consultation with the Faculty Senate. He said officials are using a “guidance document” to place a framework on how requests to opt out of in-person teaching are made to ensure officials are responding “equitably” to all requests, but he declined to specify what the framework entails.

Blake said all classes will be recorded this fall so students can choose among attending class in an in-person, remote or hybrid format. He said officials will in some cases make adjustments to the courses that instructors and teaching assistants are assigned to if they choose to opt out of in-person classes that cannot be taught remotely.

“We hope to assign faculty appropriately in context of their needs,” Blake said in an email.

He said officials are “strongly encouraging” faculty to make their requests to opt out of teaching classes in person as soon as possible and plan to send another survey to faculty members this week to better understand the number of faculty choosing in-person or remote instruction.

“In addition to preparing the class schedules, I also want to give students an idea of what they can anticipate in the fall,” Blake said.

He said he is responsible for approving requests to opt out of in-person instruction, but certain requests will be based on conversations between the faculty member and the chair of their department or dean of their school.

Terry Murphy, the deputy provost for academic affairs, said at a Faculty Senate meeting Thursday that officials are exploring remote options for faculty who do not want to teach in person even if students return to campus this fall, and officials are working to determine classrooms’ capacity with social distancing measures in place.

Blake said officials have yet to decide whether teaching assistants will be provided with the option to opt out of in-person classes for the fall.

“We plan to treat the entire community with care and not put our vulnerable students, faculty and staff in potentially dangerous situations,” he said. “Our next step is to work on guidance for our teaching assistants.”

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