The next couple of months at PSU, likely including the entirety of spring term, are going to be unlike any we’ve experienced.
Much of what we do as an educational community will be off the usual script. Inevitably, this means less certainty, less sense of control, and more anxiety.
Three fundamental principles will guide us during this period. While at times it might feel everything else is in flux, these principles are not:
- We shall conscientiously look after our health. This means, our individual health, the health of our loved ones, the health of our community of co-workers, colleagues and students, and the health of the larger community.
- We shall conscientiously continue our mission as educators. It will be disrupted in many ways. It will be filled with glitches. It often will not look like the best version of what you like your work to look like. But it will be the best each one of us can do to maintain continuity in the education of our students — under the circumstances. Cut yourself plenty of slack. Cut your students and colleagues slack. And please, as you are able, extend yourself to support, and communicate a sense of support to both students and colleagues. Again, the educational enterprise will be filled with glitches, and should feel okay living with that.
- We shall always exercise our best judgment, and trust it. Guidelines and pronouncements by public health authorities, and by the PSU administration, may at times become outdated within hours; or may raise additional questions that are not not fully answered. And yet, you still have to make choices, and that means, you have to fill in the gaps. Use you best judgment.
PSU-AAUP is in daily communication with the PSU Administration executive team making COVID-19 response decisions. We let them know our concerns; they respond; and they also inform us of their next steps. PSU Administration has assured us of their intention to extend nothing but good will and flexibility as we cope with this crisis. This means, there is no intention to penalize anyone for doing the best they can to make this all work. Let me share just a couple of examples from our cooperation the last 24 hours: (1) Course Evaluations: Course evaluations during the terms affected by the COVID crisis will be shared with the instructors of record, just for their benefit, but nobody else will receive them, and they will not be used in job evaluations. (2) Student Fees: In Interim President Percy’s email message yesterday afternoon, PSU deliberately used the term “remote,” instead of “online,” when informing about course delivery plans for spring term. This distinction reflects a decision that students will not be assessed any fees associated with “online courses” for courses that were not originally online courses.
With no hesitation I can say, follow the principles above, and as a community, we are going to get through the current public health crisis. And we will look back and feel satisfied with our work and how we conducted ourselves.
If you have any questions, or concerns, please send them to a secure email account that will be checked every day: AAUP-C19-help. You may also relay your concerns through any of your colleagues on the PSU-AAUP Executive Council, or through our general AAUP email. We will look through these on a daily basis, provide the best advice we can, and I will relay them directly to the PSU Administration team.
You belong to a strong union, and PSU-AAUP will stand by you and our students.