Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

CICS Transition to Remote Learning Due to COVID-19 - March 11, 2020

CICS Students, Faculty & Staff -
By now, you’ve seen Chancellor Subbaswamy’s email outlining UMass Amherst’s plans to move courses online from March 23 through April 3.  I’m following up on the Chancellor’s message with more information, below, as it pertains to our CICS community. 
I’d first like to echo the Chancellor’s thanks and appreciation for our community’s patience and flexibility as we address this health crisis. While the risk to our campus and region remains low, the decision to move online was made out of an abundance of caution and to further reduce risks through the lowering of our population density.   
We are committed to communicating frequently and clearly about impacts to our academic programs and are considering all options as we make decisions about the safety of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, please refer to the UMass Amherst COVID-19 information website for frequently asked questions and up-to-date information. 
CICS community members can also email questions or concerns to emergency-response [at] cics.umass.edu. We will be keeping our own list of frequently asked questions, as well as an archive of CICS communications on this topic on the COVID-19 Resilience Planning for CICS web page
Moving to Online Instruction 
  • Per the Chancellor’s email, CICS undergraduate and graduate courses will be moved online from March 23–April 3, EXCEPT for lab courses that require in-person instruction. We will be providing students with a list of the CICS courses that require in-person instruction as soon as possible, so that these students can prepare to come back to campus on March 23 if feasible. 
  • Some undergraduate students will be remaining on campus over spring break; when classes resume they will also participate in most classes remotely. Students who would prefer to remain on campus over the break should read these instructions from the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life on how to petition to stay in the residence halls (the deadline to apply is Noon on Friday, March 13).
  • Graduate students are free to stay in their on-campus or off-campus housing, but should be prepared to take classes remotely.
  • All other students should prepare to remain off-campus and take all classes online from March 23–April 3. Students should be on the lookout for more detailed information from appropriate University offices. We’re asking faculty members to be in direct contact with students via their UMass Amherst email addresses or course learning management system over spring break. All classes will continue to be held at their regularly scheduled times.
  • Graduate assistants and undergraduate course assistants should check in with their supervisors about continuing their duties during the March 23–April 3 period. 
  • Faculty should consult the new Academic Disruption website and the Center for Teaching and Learning’s “Keep Teaching” website for information on the available tools and support for online instruction. Over the next few days, CICS will be gathering and sharing additional advice and resources for online teaching.  
Faculty & Staff Work Schedules 
Faculty and staff have been directed to maintain their regular work schedules. This means that, for now, the majority of us are expected to be on campus as usual during the March 23–April 3 period. Community members who are a part of an at-risk group (older workers, those with pre-existing conditions, etc.) or are concerned about working on campus should talk to their supervisors to discuss alternative work arrangements. 
International & Domestic Travel for State Employees 
In addition to the travel bans announced earlier this month, Governor Baker announced on Tuesday that state employees should not travel domestically or internationally on state business. CICS faculty, staff, and graduate students are asked to cancel or postpone ANY upcoming business travel, and strongly consider canceling international personal travel. 
CICS Events & Faculty Interviews 
We will continue to hold our faculty candidate seminars, though we will offer candidates the choice of Zoom interviews if they prefer. All talks will be streamed live if attendees (typically faculty and graduate students) prefer not to be in the room, and recorded as usual so all can see them. Faculty and graduate students can also use Zoom or their preferred communications tools to conduct one-on-one meetings with candidates. 
All CICS student-focused events scheduled on campus between March 23–April 3 should be canceled, postponed, or held remotely. We are working to identify other college-level events that may be impacted and determine the next steps. 
Health & Safety Reminders 
We strongly recommend that all members of our community and their families take appropriate health precautions, including frequent hand washing and avoiding shaking hands or other physical contact. 
Janitorial staff have been asked to disinfect classrooms and other public, shared spaces nightly. We are trying to improve the ease of use of the bathroom sinks (hotter water and longer running times), and have asked for wastebaskets near the doors so that it’s easier to use towels to open them and then toss the towels. The university is distributing additional hand sanitizer stations at heavily trafficked locations.
This is an uncertain time and I want to thank you again for your patience and support for our students. I will continue to share information as I get it. 
Laura Haas