By now you have likely seen the message from the University President about in-person class cancellations. As mentioned in our initial statement on the situation, the UOITFA supports this decision. The health and safety of all members of the university community must be the highest priority.
As information continues to be received, we understand that everyone is likely feeling a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty. The UOITFA has put together a brief FAQ in an attempt to answer some questions you might have about the cancellation of in-person classes and events, online resumption, and your rights under our collective agreement. Most importantly, we’re looking for feedback on the issues Faculty Members are facing so we can raise them directly with the administration.
- Will it be expected that I transition my course to an online platform?
When it was first announced that classes would be canceled as of March 13th, the University Administration stated that they would be “assessing the potential for online instruction for the remainder of the term.” Since that initial announcement, further communications have included mention of moving to “online instruction and alternative assessment methods.” The Administration also indicated that Faculty Members, as they transition their material online or to other methods of delivery, should take into consideration what content is essential to ensure learning outcomes as opposed to ‘extra content’ that may not be necessary. If you have any questions about your Collective Agreement rights regarding the transition of course material to online platforms, please contact the UOITFA at [email protected]. The UOITFA plans to clarify what options Faculty Members have for delivering course content during our meeting with the Administration which is scheduled for later this week.
- What about alternate assessment methods?
The UOITFA reinforces that Faculty Members have the academic freedom to teach. Faculty Members should have the broadest possible latitude in how they deliver their courses. We will be meeting with the Administration this week to affirm our understanding that the academic freedom of Faculty Members will be respected.
If you’re facing pressure to deliver your courses in a particular manner or are facing unreasonable expectations of what your “alternative mode” will look like, please let us know.
- Can the University make me record and post my lectures online?
Normally, members have a great deal of latitude to choose what materials they share with students and how they share it. With this change, you may feel pressure to make your intellectual property available to students in ways you previously have not. We will be raising the protection of your intellectual property with the Administration and will share any further information we receive as it becomes available.
- I am feeling unwell. Do I have to provide a Doctor’s note to take time off for self-quarantine?
The Ontario government announced draft legislation on March 16 that would prohibit employers from requesting medical notes to substantiate absences; once passed, this would be retroactive to January 25, 2020. Health professionals need to be focussed on dealing with the immediate crisis of a pandemic, and don’t need to be further overburdened by requests for medical documentation to substantiate absences. Faculty, staff, or students who feel unwell are being asked by the University Administration to follow the protocol recently established and available on the University’s COVID-19 website. If you are required to provide a medical note to substantiate an absence, please let us know.
- Will student course feedback surveys still be completed? What about annual performance reviews?
The University Administration indicated at yesterday’s Academic Council that they will be discussing student course feedback surveys throughout this week and further information will be provided. As for annual performance reviews, the University Administration indicated that these will still happen, but common sense will be utilized in assessing the impact that this particular situation has had on your Research, Teaching and Service commitments.
We want to thank our Members for their ongoing patience as we navigate this ever-evolving situation. As we receive information from the Administration, we will ensure that it is shared among our members as quickly as possible as well as posted on the UOITFA’s COVID-19 Information Page.