Further guidance on Spring 2022 instruction

Dear Twin Cities faculty and Spring 2022 instructors:

I write to provide details for spring instruction within the framework described in President Gabel’s message, sent Wednesday, January 5.

Thank you for your extraordinary work and sustained commitment during this challenging time. Since March 2020, you have served our students and advanced the University’s mission in significant ways. I am confident that our continued and shared commitment to providing our students with a rich, in-person learning experience that also enhances safety will ensure our success this coming spring semester.

The twists and turns of COVID and the quest for equity and social justice over these past few years have left many of us bruised mentally, and in some cases physically. Your continued commitment to our mission, to teach, to serve, to advance knowledge, and to inspire others is uplifting. While the future remains challenging, your work inspires me with hope that together we will persevere.

The high rate of vaccinations on our UMTC campus (well over 90% for both employees and students) means we are far better positioned than we were a year ago to navigate through the COVID pandemic. Nonetheless, this remains a challenging and uncertain time. We know that mitigation strategies are still needed, including getting boostersmaskingstaying home when feeling unwellfrequent hand washing, and testing and quarantining per public health recommendations.

A central part of our mission is providing outstanding education to our students, and your efforts are critical to our collective effort. For Spring 2022, it is important that courses be delivered in the modalities that were planned, approved, and communicated. Masks will still be required indoors, and the Twin Cities campus will have enhanced mask distribution and greater testing capacity for our entire campus community. More details will be forthcoming on those topics within the next few days.

We understand and acknowledge the additional concerns that have come with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Despite these challenges, our University community has shown time and again that via our shared commitment to each other, and to health, we can succeed.

To support you in this effort, we are offering spring instructors more autonomy and flexibility in implementing temporary changes throughout this semester that will help you meet your needs and the needs of your students.

  • If you are unable to lead a class or meet other instructional requirements due to illness, isolation, quarantine, or other COVID-related reasons for up to five consecutive weekdays, we support you in making necessary adjustments to your course delivery. You may find a substitute instructor, move your class online, or cancel or reschedule class entirely without seeking additional approval. Please do notify your program head or designee.

  • If you find that your need to temporarily modify your course will extend past a five-consecutive-day period, please reach out to your chair or program head, who will follow College policy and assist you in finding a situationally appropriate solution.

Please be mindful of meeting the instructional time requirements of your course, providing makeup work for legitimate absences for your students, and honoring the terms of appointment for half-time TAs (typically 20 hours per week). Some accreditors include thresholds of in-person versus distanced instruction that must be met; so please do communicate with your program leadership to ensure we remain in compliance.

We also urge you to communicate, thoughtfully and as soon and thoroughly as you can, with your students and any teaching assistants regarding any temporary changes that you implement. This will ensure that students know how to access their classes, and will minimize their uncertainty and stress.

The physical and mental health of instructors, staff, and students remains a top priority this spring as we deliver on our educational mission. As always, we remain responsive to public health guidance, and will pivot or adjust if needed. We will continue to rely on best practices and build upon what we’ve learned over time as this pandemic moves through new and unforeseen stages.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts and the care you have taken to look out for each other and your students. Please feel free to reach out via [email protected] if I can provide any additional information or answer any questions.

Sincerely yours,

Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

email was sent January 6, 2022 to all Twin Cities faculty and all instructors scheduled to teach in spring 2022 semester