Faculty Senate Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a summary of the most recent (July 31) Q&A session with Provost Cyril Clarke and the Faculty Senate. Topics discussed included academic planning and instruction, COVID-19 testing, tracing and case management, caregiving, communications, career progress and advancement, and classroom health and safety.
The university must balance its commitment to preserve students’ progress to degree while also supporting faculty members’ discretion with regard to course modalities. Faculty members may change course modality in consultation with the department head. A change in modality may be the appropriate response to a faculty member’s concerns. In some cases, the department may explore changing teaching assignments to maintain face-to-face components of a course. If courses/course sections change modality, we would ask departments do so as soon as possible to give students more time to adjust their schedules, if needed. If modality is changed, the department is responsible for notifying all enrolled students and providing advising support to adjust students’ schedules, if requested.
Testing, Tracing, and Case Management
If symptomatic, a faculty or staff member’s primary care provider would be first option. Second option would be New River Valley Heath District (thee is an algorithm on their site to help evaluate symptoms). Testing availability for faculty and staff will be a function of risk based on DOLI regulations, and consideration of other unique position related factors. Again, availability will be a function of capacity and needs. There is currently no capability to provide "at will testing.”
Classroom/Facility Health and Safety
While it is anticipated that most faculty and staff already have their own face coverings, Virginia Tech has secured an inventory of both cloth face coverings and surgical masks. These will be made available thru procurement. In addition, DSA will provide two cloth face coverings to residential students upon arrival. Face shields will be provided to all faculty and instructors who are teaching either in hybrid or face-to-face course modalities and distributed by mail services to departments.
The Child Care Working Group continues to discuss options for all faculty with caregiving responsibilities. The Division of Human Resources, the Office of Business Affairs, the Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer, and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, with engagement of members of Faculty Senate, department heads, deans, are all collaborating on policies and partnerships that address concerns of caregivers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is difficult to estimate the funding needed for additional GTAs, replacement faculty, and funded modified duties, but the budget model puts majority of funds into colleges. The Working Group support flexible assignments during the coming semester and can consider requesting additional funding. We hope faculty can prioritize teaching responsibilities for the coming semester.
The Promotion and Tenure During COVID-19 Working Group, formed by the Commission on Faculty Affairs, is developing documentation specifically addressing differential impact. The draft document of adaptations in the promotion and tenure process due to COVID-19 has been shared with deans and Faculty Senate Cabinet with forwarding to Department Heads Council Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate for further input. Subsequent iterations will be shared with the university community. Question about P&T process for the coming year should be directed to Jack Finney.
We have created a section on the Provost’s homepage that provides easy-to-find links to documents and resources specific to faculty and their academic space and operations, classroom/lab health and safety, and instructional interests. These resources align with university plans and guidelines posted on the VT Ready website, but address the questions and concerns most being expressed by faculty. Feedback from faculty and the Faculty Senate will help us to further inform and prioritize the resources we post on the webpage.
The Provost’s Office is also providing a focused weekly communications update to share timely information related to topics of interest, revised resource documents and websites, and upcoming opportunities to engage and provide feedback on academic, research, and instructional matters. See an archive of past weekly communications updates.