More on pass/fail grading, OIT help, the U.S. Census and a message from faculty to students.
March 31, 2020
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMINDERS
Pass/Fail Grading Information Updated
Students will have the opportunity to choose a pass/fail (P/F) grading option for courses in which they are enrolled during Spring Semester 2020, provided that the course has not yet ended. More information has been posted at the registrar’s website.
Faculty Welcome Students Online
From across campus faculty members sent video greetings and reassurances to students.
OIT Implements Additional VPN Network
Due to an unprecedented number of connections to the virtual private network, OIT has implemented an additional VPN, UAVPN2. Faculty and staff are encouraged to begin using VPN2. More information is available on the OIT website.
Create secure meetings with unique meeting IDs and enable the waiting room feature to permit access for each meeting participant. Step-by-step instructions, and additional Zoom security tips are available on the CIT website.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Be Counted, Be Represented and Help the State of Alabama do the Same
Show Your School Spirit While Slowing Spread of Coronavirus
UA Museums Goes Online to Provide Educational Content
Information on COVID-19 and campus operations is being updated frequently. For more FAQs, go tohttps://healthinfo.ua.edu/faqs/.
City curfew, grading/drop deadline changes, student support fund, and coping tips.
March 27, 2020
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMINDERS
City Curfew Announced
The City of Tuscaloosa has adopted a 24/7 curfew effective Sunday night to support social distancing and prevent possible community spread of coronavirus. In agreement with city officials, University work, already functioning under a limited business operations plan, is not affected by the curfew. Employees and students who reside in the city are subject to the curfew when not working, and are advised to review the executive order for a list of limited exemptions and specified essential activities. This is an important measure for public health and the efforts of our city officials, and your compliance is appreciated.
Pass/Fail Grading, Extended Drop Deadline Offered
Following a recommendation by the Faculty Senate and approved by President Bell today, students now have the option to choose between a letter grade or pass/fail designation for Spring 2020 courses. The deadline to drop a course has also been extended through April 24.
More details will be provided next week through individual academic programs and via healthinfo.ua.edu, but basic guidelines include:
- This change applies only to Spring 2020 courses that have not yet ended.
- Students can choose between the letter grade or pass/fail option on a course-by-course basis.
- Grading choice can be made at any time until 5 p.m. April 24, the last day of classes.
- If a student does not specify a preference, the original grade assignment procedure will be used.
- The pass/fail option will be generally available to both undergraduate and graduate students except as professional or certification requirements dictate otherwise.
Understanding grade implications on future plans, degree completion, graduate or professional program applications and financial aid is important. As students consider their grading options, they should discuss any impact a pass/fail designation may have with their academic, program, athletic and financial aid advisers.
Implementation procedures and program specific instructions for these options will be rolled out in the coming days.
Tide Together Student Support Fund
Members of the campus community have been asking how they can help students through the financial challenges related to the evolving circumstances of COVID-19. The Tide Together Student Support Fund is an assistance program administered through the Division of Student Life that provides students with access to short term financial help in times of need. Due to the current public health crisis, many students lack the financial resources needed to travel home, to find alternate housing arrangements, or to simply afford food. Some may even lack the technical and digital access to take classes online. The Tide Together Support Fund provides a lifeline for these students. If you are interested in helping, please visit www.give.ua.edu/tidetogether.
Wellness and Work-Life Balance
Tips to Cope with Social Distancing
UA is offering Zoom backgrounds. Visit the OIT page for instructions and downloadable images.
Frequently Asked Questions on the above topics, as well as suggestions for moving labs online, can be found at https://healthinfo.ua.edu/faqs/.
EXTENSION OF LIMITED BUSINESS OPERATIONS
March 26, 2020
The University continues to address and manage issues related to the Covid-19 outbreak, so limited business operationswill continue for the time being. All employees who are working remotely, or unable to perform their jobs remotely, will continue under the same conditions and circumstances as previously announced – including pay and benefits – until or unless notified otherwise by their supervisor.
Telecommuting agreements do not need to be updated to address this extension period. We will continue to update and inform you of any changes to this policy, and your supervisor will notify you of any changes to your work group, taking into account the need to stagger campus visit times and maintain distancing while on campus.
The Guidelines on Research Activity also remain in effect.
RESOURCES FOR TEACHING ONLINE
Faculty share the creative solutions they are using to stay engaged with classes.
Faculty have access to the videoconferencing tool Zoom, lecture capture Panopto,Blackboard Ultra and Blackboard Ally for LMS, as well as an extensive list of tools at the Center for Instructional Technology.
The Center for Instructional Technology’s accessibility page can help faculty ensure their content is accessible, and it has information on implementing remote accommodations.
Communication and Collaboration
Blackboard offers tools to help you build discussion groups. While planning for some Zoom class meetings can help keep your students on track, asynchronous activities such as discussion boards and student video projects can keep them engaged and help build self-regulated learners.
ANNOUNCEMENTS and REMINDERS
In-person classes, regardless of size, are suspended. Faculty may go to their classrooms to record classes, but must first contact the dean and/or department head for instructions before doing so.
Capstone Center for Student Success is ready to offer opportunities via videoconference. Starting March 30 tutoring services are available online via Zoom and do not require an appointment. The Writing Center will move online for the rest of spring semester.
2020 U.S. Census
Do your part to make sure Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama are counted in the 2020 U.S. Census, which is now underway. For instructions on how to complete the U.S. Census and additional information, go to https://census.ua.edu/.
Work-Life and Wellness
How Faculty and Staff can Cope with Stress Amid COVID-19
Frequently Asked Questions on the above topics, as well as suggestions for moving labs online, can be found at https://healthinfo.ua.edu/faculty-faqs/
UPDATES ON CAMPUS MAIL SERVICE, TIAA APPOINTMENTS, AND MORE.
March 23, 2020
Notice to Group 1 Employees Working on Campus
Please coordinate with your supervisor to ensure that you are adhering to the guidance related to Limited Business Operations. Even for this group, staggered times on campus are encouraged, as are remote performance of duties when possible.
Social Distancing Flyer
Are you looking for a visual to quickly explain social distancing? Use the Social Distancing Tips flyer.
Email and Voicemail Templates
During Limited Business Operations email and voicemail templates for Group 2 and Group 3 employees can be found at https://strategiccommunications.ua.edu/resources/automatic-email-reply-templates.
UPDATED FAQS AT HEALTHINFO.UA.EDU
The Frequently Asked Questions page has been updated with entries on Crimson Ride schedules, opening of storm shelters, campus mail delivery, and Student Health Center and Counseling Center operations. This information can be found at https://healthinfo.ua.edu/faqs/.
Campus Mail Service
The Ferguson Mail Center will not deliver to campus offices and will hold mail to all departments and offices except for those previously identified, like Admissions. Mail will not be picked up from offices and departments on campuses. To request an exception, please notify Linda Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday, March 25, at 1 p.m. (CT), TIAA will host a special webinar, where Brian Nick, Nuveen Chief Investment Strategist, will share his perspective on the recent market volatility. He will cover what’s driving current volatility and provide some strategies to help deal with the current market swings. Click here for registration information.
Appointments with Consultants
TIAA has decided to temporarily suspend on-site visits to institutions by financial consultants and other members of their service team. These actions are in keeping with standard practice wherever coronavirus exposure is a risk, in the U.S. and around the world.
For those of you who have made a one-on-one appointment to meet in person with TIAA during the next 30 days, TIAA will be reaching out to you to change the in-person appointment to a phone appointment. Our regular financial consultants will be helping you during these calls.
For those employees who have not yet made an appointment but would still like to contact TIAA, please use the following resources:
Meeting by phone with TIAA consultant:
www.tiaa.org/schedulenow or 1-800-732-8353, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET).
National Contact Center:
1-855-200-0155, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET).
TIAA asks for your patience, as needed, particularly related to call center wait times.
Campus COVID-19 Updates
March 20, 2020
Energy conservation plans for campus buildings
Beginning immediately and during limited business operations, general building maintenance and normal custodial services will be suspended while stringent energy conservation measures are implemented across campus.
HVAC systems will operate only short periods each day, maintaining warmer temperatures, and all internal non-essential lighting will be reduced. The frequency and duration of HVAC operations will depend on the building and outside air temperatures. An effective campus-wide energy curtailment plan is essential. Cooling an entire building for only one or two occupants is expensive and inefficient. We ask for your help to limit costs and save energy.
Exceptions will be made for special buildings or operations, such as medical and animal care facilities, libraries and museums, where HVAC systems are needed to operate at or near normal temperatures. If you are aware of a facility or building that requires exception to these energy conservation measures, please email Campus Energy Engineer/Director Greg McKelvey at email@example.com with justification for the exemption. All requests will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Your understanding and cooperation during these unprecedented and difficult times is appreciated.
Limited business operations work assignments
Supervisors will be notifying staff today about their Staff Group classifications (Group 1, 2 or 3) and work assignments for the coming week. Please revisit the announcement of Limited Business Operations for an overview.
Social distancing tips
Every faculty and staff member should be doing everything possible to practice social distancing and other preventive health strategies related to COVID-19 – whether you are on campus or not. Here are some social distancing tips and techniques to help you.
Recent updates to healthinfo.ua.edu and FAQs
- A new section titled Student Assistance has been added to the HEALTHINFO The page provides links to UA Care and Wellbeing resources to help students in need as well as commercial offerings for services and discounts related to the pandemic.
- A few more campus events have been canceled. Please send any campus-wide events to be considered for listing on the site to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Bama Dining at Lakeside and Starbucks on Bryant Drive have moved to take-out or drive-through services only this week.
On-campus Spring Commencement will not be held as scheduled, and families should not plan on traveling to campus for that event. We are actively exploring and hope to provide alternative means of recognizing the significant achievements of graduates and students earning honors, but it is too early to make those plans firm
Guidelines for Research Activity at The University of Alabama during Limited Business Operations
March 19, 2020
The University of Alabama Office for Research and Economic Development (ORED) is working with other divisions on campus in developing and maintaining up-to-date guidelines for faculty, staff and students for their research programs consistent with current University operations. These Guidelines will be updated as necessary.
Per the March 17, 2020 “Announcement of Limited Business Operations,” UA will continue to operate under limited business operations, which includes essential staffing and remote work assignments.
- Only “essential research activities” should continue. Essential activities include: ensuring the viability of living organisms; maintaining unique reagents; maintaining essential equipment; and conducting human research which offers direct therapeutic benefit to participants. Colleges/Schools may or may not require notification and approval of “essential research activities” by the Dean (or designee).
- “Essential research activities” may continue and should be staggered to minimize the number of laboratory personnel who are present at any one time and employing the principle of “social distancing” and other measures to protect lab personnel.
- Critical in-process experiments. Principal Investigators (PIs) should immediately identify research experiments that are in a critical phase, meaning that ending them will result in a major and irreversible loss in the project. PIs must write a brief justification for continuing such work and submit first to their Dean (or designee) and then to the Vice President for Research (or designee) for consideration and approval. The justification should briefly describe the nature of the work, why it is critical, and how measures will be employed to protect lab personnel.
- New experiments or work on “non-essential research activities” should not be initiated. However, given extraordinary circumstances, some work in the category of “non-essential research activities” may be considered under the following process. Prior to initiation of any non-essential research activity, PIs must write a justification for continuing such work and submit first to their Dean (or designee) and then to the Vice President for Research (or designee) for consideration and approval. The justification should briefly describe the nature of the work, why it is important and extraordinary, and how measures will be employed to protect lab personnel. If the justification for continuing non-essential research activity pertains to contractual obligations from a funding agency, then PIs are first encouraged to contact the Office for Research and Technology Agreements (ORTA) in ORED for a consult. ORTA may directly engage the funding agency to re-negotiate contract terms to be more flexible during this period of limited business operations.
- PIs and lab managers should identify minimal research personnel (faculty, staff, undergraduate students, and graduate students) who will perform essential research activities on campus, and also identify those important activities that research personnel (faculty, staff, undergraduate students, and graduate students) can do remotely to aid in the progress of internally and externally funded research and sponsored activities.
- PIs are expected to consider ways to keep research personnel engaged and working on projects in a remote fashion through, for example, data analysis; writing reports and other publications; designing new experiments, developing new grant proposals; etc. Engaged research personnel who provide direct benefit to project(s) may continue to charge their associated effort to the applicable grants and contracts.
- ORED and all of its major offices (Sponsored Programs, Contract & Grant Accounting, Research Compliance, Proposal Development, and Research and Technology Agreements) will continue operations.
These Guidelines were developed by the Office for Research and Economic Development and are overseen by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Dr. Russell J. Mumper (email@example.com). These Guidelines will be continually reviewed and are subject to change at any time.
Announcement of Limited Business Operations
March 17, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Like other institutions around the world, our UA community faces unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. I appreciate each of you and your dedication to this great University. Together we will meet these challenges and continue our mission.
The extraordinary need for social distancing continues to be a focus of the guidance and recommendations from the CDC, ADPH and our own health officials. We recognize recent announcements, such as the closing of K-12 schools statewide, have far-reaching impact for our faculty and staff, including health and safety, and childcare concerns.
The quickly evolving situation has already prompted us to take substantial, proactive measures to ensure safety. I have been in close consultation with our human resources team, leaders across campus and the UA System Office to assess our operational needs in an effort to remain in front of this unprecedented situation.
As you know, The University of Alabama already maintains extraordinarily limited business operations during Spring Break. UA will continue to operate under limited business operations, which includes essential staffing and remote work assignments, for an additional week, beginning Monday, March 23, through Sunday, March 29. This plan may be extended beyond this time period and any decision to do so will be promptly communicated to the campus community.
UA has existing plans for business continuity, and the University’s colleges, divisions, departments and operating units should all be prepared to engage those plans. Our goal is to promote social distancing and limit on campus work to the fullest extent possible. Given these objectives, we anticipate most faculty will be able to work remotely while the vast majority of staff should fall into Staff Groups 2 or 3 noted below. Everyone is encouraged to explore the remote work tools available to all University employees to help achieve these objectives. Consistent with this, the following guidelines for all UA employees apply to this limited business operations plan.
Faculty are asked to work remotely (if you are instructing online, do so from your home, not campus), and come to campus only if required (e.g. a critical administrative role, direct patient care or critical research responsibilities that require a physical presence on campus).
University staff members have been classified into three groups by their supervisors who will communicate their group assignments and expectations to each staff member by 5 p.m. Friday, March 20.
Staff Group 1 – Staff needed on campus/on site to continue mission-critical University work.
Staff Group 2 – Staff needed to continue their work, but who can do so from home.
Staff Group 3 – Staff not immediately required to work during a time of limited business, but who may be reclassified to Group 1 or 2 should critical business needs arise.
Group 1 staff should report to work on campus as normal (unless the employee is sick or has been in immediate contact with a person known to have COVID-19)with the following guidance:
- Maintain social distance, good hygiene, and use phone calls and virtual meetings as much as possible (even for small groups). Any gatherings of more than 10 people, even work gatherings, will require approval from a dean, vice president or AVP.
- Student-employees should not be included in Group 1. If a supervisor thinks a student employee’s role is essential, approval must be granted by HR.
- Even for this group, staggered times on campus are encouraged, as are remote performance of duties when possible.
Group 2 staff will work remotely with the following guidance:
- Prepare to effectively work from home. If a visit to campus to retrieve essential items (laptop, supplies) is required to facilitate remote work, coordinate with a supervisor to stagger campus visit times and limit contact with others.
- Sign a temporary telecommuting agreement, which will be provided by your supervisor by 5 p.m. Friday, March 20. The agreement must be completed and submitted by noon Monday, March 23.
- Be prepared to shift to Group 1 or 3 as business needs change.
Group 3 would not actively work.
- Group 3 employees will be paid during this initial limited business period. The University will determine the necessity for any further limited business operation periods, and the related employment terms will be communicated.
- Group 3 designation may be subject to change if business needs arise.
This is a dynamic and fluid situation, and this plan is subject to change.
Please know these complex decisions are not easily made. In addition to guidance from federal and state health authorities, I know that each of you will be balancing concerns for your loved ones while adjusting your work responsibilities. Please don’t forget to take care of yourselves mentally and physically. Our employee assistance programprovides a tremendous resource, as does the University Medical Center. Employees with particular health concerns that impact their group designation should contact their supervisor.
These are difficult and dynamic times, and we will all face new experiences and unprecedented challenges. I know the strength of our campus community and the spirit that drives us all. Thank you for all you do and will do in the time ahead.
Stuart R. Bell
Message to Faculty and Staff
March 10, 2020
As faculty and staff prepare for spring break next week, here are a few reminders.
As stated in recent messages to campus about the evolving coronavirus situation globally, UA has had no reported cases of the virus. The University is taking extraordinary and proactive steps to ensure our campus is protected from coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you are planning personal travel over the break, please monitor healthinfo.ua.edu for the most recent campus information about the situation. While the updated interim emergency policy does not inhibit or restrict the travel of individuals traveling on personal business at the time of this communication, the UA System strongly encourages our faculty, staff and students to consider this updated policy when making decisions to continue on or schedule travel to any of the impacted countries. Stay aware of CDC travel watches, alerts and warnings, and seek out additional CDC and State Department updates.
The most recent local guidance includes:
- The UA System has canceled all University-sponsored international travel scheduled to depart in March. University-sponsored travel outside of the United States that is scheduled to depart after the month of March is suspended effective immediately.
- The UA System advises against any non-essential domestic travel, particularly to large conferences or to states or locales that have declared a State of Emergency or Public Health Emergency due to the virus.
- Those who travel to a CDC COVID-19 Level 2 or 3 country (on personal or University business) or have been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to contact the Alabama Department of Public Health, remain away from the UA campus and other large gathering places, and self-monitor for 14 days after leaving the affected area.
To reiterate, UA has no suspected cases of COVID-19. The UA System has developed a proactive plan to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is revised and updated as new information becomes available. http://uasystem.edu/news/2020/02/ua-system-covid-19-updates/.