Continuity of Instruction - March 4

March 4, 2020

RE: Continuity of Instruction

Colleagues, 

There are various reasons that our academic class schedule may be impacted, including weather, facilities issues, and potentially, public health concerns. You have received information concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19) which is posted to the STCC website and college administration continues to monitor the situation in concert with the Department of Public Health. We will continue to update the college community via email as additional information becomes available.

The coronavirus risk to the STCC community remains low. Although we are not currently impacted by this issue, I want to assure you and your colleagues that we are proactively preparing for any possible disruption in class schedules.

Deans Greco, Scott and Washburn are monitoring the situation, in particular for any academic program that is utilizing clinical sites. Some clinical host sites have had a number of flu cases and have temporarily suspended clinical placement activity until properly disinfected. The deans and the relevant program faculty are aware of these decisions and have made plans to ensure student progress is not impaired.

What follows are short-term recommendations to consider in the event that any instruction (classroom or clinical) is disrupted for any reason.

Communicate with Students

  • Be certain you have current student contact information in order to facilitate communication (email addresses of your students and advisees can be found on WebAdvisor)
  • Consider appending the following statement, or something similar, to your course syllabus: In the event that normal classroom or clinical activities are disrupted due to weather, public health concerns, or other unexpected circumstances, the format of this course may be modified to enable course completion. Should this occur, you will receive an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version. 
  • Consider preparing up to two weeks of materials in advance for use in a time of possible instructional disruption  
  • A Blackboard course shell is a convenient platform for reaching all students consistently. While faculty teaching online or hybrids already have their courses ‘loaded’ for the term, many other faculty use Blackboard shells for their courses to enhance their face-to-face course delivery. As a contingency, faculty delivering face-to-face courses are encouraged to load two to three weeks of their course material onto their Blackboard course shells should we need to suspend on campus course delivery. Additionally, faculty who have not used Blackboard are encouraged to consider putting their course materials (or at least a portion of them) onto a digital format for which there are several options.  (Scott Lambert salambert@stcc.edu  can create course shells for faculty upon request.)

The following faculty supports are available through the Center for Online and Digital Learning and the Blackboard Administrator to provide faculty a choice of digital tools that will enable teaching and learning to continue seamlessly during any academic disruption. This includes regular engagement with students, student engagement with each other, and students having digital access to content, assignments, assignment submission, and assessment. 

Faculty Resources

Documentation and multimedia tutorials for using Blackboard, Google Tools, and Zoom web conferencing can be found at the Faculty Digital Tools page.  Faculty might consider using any of these tools to support face-to-face instruction.  

To assist faculty getting started with these tools, workshops will be available. Faculty can visit the CODL Workshops page to review options and register. 

Student Resources

Tutorials for faculty to share with their students in how students can use Blackboard, Google Tools, and Zoom web conferencing can be found at the student Online & Digital Resources @ STCC page

Google Tools and Blackboard perform best using the Chrome browser.

Blackboard Support

Scott Lambert, Blackboard Administrator salambert @ stcc.edu 

The Center for Online & Digital Learning Support

Kyle Kraus and Mary Wiseman, Instructional Designers digitallearning @ stcc.edu

Technical Support

HelpDesk — (413) 755-5326

To determine the support needs (including, if necessary, temporary “internet “hotspots”) of faculty with unreliable internet access at home who would nonetheless consider using technology to bridge any disruption to course delivery, the Center for Online and Digital Learning will send a brief survey to all faculty. (We recognize there are many who will not require such support; we ask those to kindly disregard the survey.)  

While we hope that suspension of on campus course delivery will not occur, we must also ensure that our core mission, the education of our students, continues in the event that it does. We hope that you find these ideas helpful to minimize any academic disruption.

Thank you,

Geraldine de Berly, Ph.D.
Vice President of Academic Affairs