Suspension of in-person classes and final exams

To: UC Santa Cruz faculty

From: Interim Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer, Lindsay Hinck, Chair, Academic Senate Committee on Courses and Instruction, Onuttom Narayan, Chair, Academic Senate Committee on Educational Policy, Don Smith, Chair, Academic Senate Graduate Council

Earlier today, the Chancellor announced new actions designed to help limit coronavirus (COVID-19) risk on campus. In recent days we have seen the continued spread of COVID-19 around the world and now here in Santa Cruz County. We can expect that confirmed cases will continue to grow in our region and in our campus community. There are no confirmed cases on our campus at this time.

The public health guidance we are receiving continues to emphasize not only good personal hygiene practices, but also minimizing close contact among groups of people, as means of restraining the spread of COVID-19. We are placing constraints on large public events at UC Santa Cruz, and now we are taking steps regarding course instruction.

For the final three (3) days of the winter quarter, beginning Wednesday March 11, through the first week of spring quarter, Friday April 3, we will be suspending most in-person classes and will be offering all lecture courses (including discussion sections) and seminar instruction through alternative modalities (e.g., Zoom). Wherever possible, instruction should be carried out through Zoom meetings. In addition, instructors should provide assigned course materials, including the instructor’s lecture materials, on Canvas.

During this period laboratory and studio classes can continue to meet in person where necessary. We do encourage, for these courses, minimizing in-person meetings as appropriate and whenever possible. 

To the fullest extent possible, final exams will be moving to remote instruction formats. Alternative arrangements must be made for any Winter quarter final exams that were scheduled to be administered in person, such as delivering via a remote format, restructuring as a take-home exam, or replacing with a final project.  

We recognize that this is a significant adjustment for instructors, staff, and students. Departments and instructors should work together to determine the most appropriate solutions for finishing courses and assigning grades. The March 9 message to instructors provides guidance on online instruction and assessment, and instructors are strongly encouraged to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge at the end of the quarter. Above all, departments and faculty are asked to put student health and success first in their decision making. In that spirit, advising, tutoring, and supplemental instruction should move to Zoom format to the fullest extent possible.

For final exams and end-of-quarter assessment of student performance, instructors may also need to consider options such as: electronic submission of final papers, projects, and take-home examinations; and proctored online examinations.

If a student is not able to complete the option(s) provided by the instructor, the student may be given an incomplete (I) at the student’s request if their work was of passing quality but incomplete. Instructors should be clear as to what needs to be done within the next quarter to remove the incomplete. The March 6 Academic Senate message noted that instructors may not be able to satisfy all the learning outcomes of their course, and that student assessment may not be in accordance with the grading plan laid out in the syllabus provided at the beginning of the course. If necessary, faculty should consult with their department chairs in determining the most appropriate actions to take. 

We are committed to providing support to help instructors in this effort. Please consult the March 9 message to instructors for specific information about available resources for remote instruction and final exams. We encourage all instructors to email students in their courses immediately to let them know their course plans. 

As instructors plan for Spring quarter, course materials of all types should be placed on Canvas. Laboratory and studio courses for which remote instruction is not possible can meet in person, although we continue to advise minimizing in-person meetings. More guidance on Spring quarter teaching will be provided as soon as possible.

In closing, we thank you for all that you are doing to support our campus community—and especially our students—during this challenging period. Thank you, all, for your commitment to the well-being of our community.