3/20/20 Message to Faculty & Instructors

March 20, 2020

From Anupma Prakash, provost and executive vice chancellor

Dear faculty and instructors,

It has been one hard week for everyone! First and foremost, I want to thank each one of you for everything you have been doing to address the impacts of COVID-19 in our academic world. There are a host of issues we are trying to address, from mobilizing students, to arranging network access, to ensuring the safety and well-being of all students and employees.

Thank you especially for your work to ensure that there is a viable academic continuity plan for every student. We know there are still unresolved questions and the road ahead is going to be bumpy. We will face Internet connectivity issues as network providers are not necessarily prepared for the scale of demand. You will have questions, as will staff and students, and come Monday, the request for responses will be high. I urge you to be patient in dealing with such requests and delays, and be flexible in accommodating the needs of our already stressed students.

For faculty, staff and students who have questions about the courses that transitioned to a distance-delivery mode, eCampus will have a call center set up next week that will respond to emails and calls. The contact details are:

eCampus call center:
Phone: 907-455-2060
Toll-free: 800-277-8060

OIT help desk:
Phone: 907-450-8300 (x8300 on campus)
Toll-free: 800-478-8226

To best accommodate students and faculty who are facing significant changes and challenges due to COVID-19, UAF has adopted the following temporary adjustments to academic policies with the approval of Faculty Senate:

Deferred (DF) grades
If an entire course cannot continue because it cannot be conducted by distance, or if an individual student does not have the ability to access the modality of the course, a grade of DF (rather than Incomplete) should be given. DF grades demonstrate that the inability to complete the course is on the part of the instructor or institution rather than the student. Students must be given the opportunity to complete the work. If the work is not completed, the DF turns to a W in two years (for undergraduates) or stays on the transcript indefinitely (for graduate students).

Credit/No credit
All students will be able to elect a credit/no-credit grade option for any or all of their classes up until April 27 (the last day of instruction). Students may still receive a letter grade if they choose to. Faculty do not need to do anything differently- you will submit the grade that the student has earned. If a student has chosen Credit/No-Credit, they will be awarded Credit for the course if their performance is at the C- grade level or higher; if their performance falls below that level, the course will not appear on their academic record. In either case, the course will not be included in any GPA calculations. For spring and summer 2020 courses only, all non-degree seeking, undergraduate, and graduate students may receive an unlimited number of Credit/ No-Credit grades, and a Credit grade will count for prerequisites, general education, degree, minor, and major requirements.

Withdrawals and refunds
I urge instructors and advisors to encourage students to try the new modality of their courses, but if they feel they cannot continue, they will be allowed to withdraw. We have extended the withdrawal deadline from March 27 to April 10 to allow students to get a sense for how well the new methods of delivery will work before they have to make a decision. We are working on a special grade such as WC to indicate that the withdrawal is COVID-19 related.

Students who withdraw from a course or courses will automatically receive 100% credit for the spring 2020 tuition and fees that they can apply to another UAF course no later than spring 2021. If there are extenuating circumstances that make it impossible for the student to retake the course or to use the credit for a different course, they may appeal to the Bursar’s Office for a refund.

International students, military and veterans, student athletes
International students, student athletes and students receiving VA funding may be negatively impacted by withdrawing from a course or by electing a credit/no credit grade. Students in any of these groups should not make any changes to their academic schedule without checking on how it will impact their eligibility and funding.

Proctored exams
Because of the various restrictions due to COVID-19, for spring 2020 there can be no proctored exams, including final exams. Faculty are urged to consider other options, including:

  • Expanded formative/educative assessments
  • Take-home exams
  • Timed online exams through Blackboard
  • Online student presentations
  • Final projects
  • Group work and presentations

Testing facilities
eCampus Testing Services is closed until further notice. CTC will provide limited testing services based on need and by appointment only (604 Barnette Street, Fort Wainwright, Eielson and Delta).

ACT/SAT waiver
Due to exam cancellations and lack of proctored testing spaces nationwide, the ACT/SAT admissions requirement will be waived for fall 2020. Placement options for writing courses that normally use ACT or SAT scores are being explored.

In implementing these academic adjustments, I request faculty to be very accommodating with students, especially exercising flexibility with deadlines for submitting assignments and exams. Some students may struggle with technology, Internet access and personal needs that they may not be comfortable in voicing.

I hope that these academic adjustments will help to navigate spring and summer 2020. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at aprakash@alaska.edu.