July 14, 2020

Dear faculty colleagues,

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some time with family and friends amid this most unusual summer.  With luck, I’ll be able to get away from Waul House for a few days later this month. 

I expect that you have already seen that Mike Lochhead and I directed our latest weekly communication to parents of undergraduate students.  While there is much information in that email that addresses larger community concerns, I want to share directly with faculty three particular updates:

International Students and the Boston College Community

In response to the recent issuance of regulations by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the University issued the following statement on July 10:

Boston College stands with colleges and universities nationwide in opposing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regulations that would prevent international students from securing visas if their schools choose to teach online exclusively in the fall.

The regulation undermines America’s well-earned reputation as the global leader in higher education and a welcoming place for students from across the world.

International students add so much to campus life and learning with their presence, talent, and experience, and they expand our collective knowledge and understanding of the world. We urge that the recent regulations announced from ICE be rescinded immediately, so that international students can continue to enroll in our schools and contribute to society here in the United States and across the globe.

Deans and faculty across the University have responded to the federal government’s announcement by emphasizing the importance of advising for our international students, by working to develop additional on-campus opportunities across all programs, and by reaffirming the important role that international students and scholars play in the life of Boston College.  American higher education, and our particular University, have benefited enormously from the contributions made by international members of our communities, and we will continue working to support our colleagues in the face of the capricious and counterproductive federal policies.

The Boston College Classroom This Fall

The University will be following CDC guidance as we plan for classroom utilization.  In line with that approach, recent guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for K-12 schools recommends all students and faculty wear masks at all times and a three-foot “desk-to-desk” distance be maintained, which is the guideline we will be using in most of our classrooms.  In the majority of our rooms, we are able to achieve 50% capacity while following the K-12 guidelines.  A major exception is some of our fixed-seat auditoriums --- those seats are too close together to allow for 50% utilization.  For these rooms, the University has determined appropriate layouts that maintain safe distances: actual capacities depend on specific room conformation, but generally fall below 50%.  This is one of the reasons we have moved most of our large lectures to an online delivery mode.

Additionally, we will be mandating a number of other practices to help ensure that our classrooms remain safe and healthy learning environments, starting with cleaning.  Every classroom will be deep-cleaned each night prior to a teaching day.  Sanitizing wipe dispensers will be installed in (or just outside of) every classroom as well, and faculty and students will be asked to disinfect their individual spaces before and after class to protect themselves and others in the community. 

Within the classroom, masks or other face coverings will be required for all faculty and students at all times.  Clear face shields may be worn, but only in combination with a regular mask – they are not considered an acceptable substitute.  Additionally, desks will be placed in an optimized pattern determined to maximize distance, and should not be rearranged by students or faculty.  The pattern will include an eight- to nine-foot “teaching zone” which will allow faculty members freedom of movement while maintaining a safe distance from students, all of whose desks will be facing forward (towards the teaching wall).  We are working to ensure that all larger rooms are equipped with appropriate sound amplification as well, as trial runs this summer have shown that masks inhibit vocal production.  Students will be assigned seats in each class and faculty members will take attendance in order to facilitate potential contact tracing should a person in the classroom test positive for the coronavirus. 

Finally, we will be asking all faculty to record (and, where pedagogically appropriate, live-broadcast) their in-class lectures and activities using either the installed Lecture Capture system, laptop-based personal Lecture Capture, or other technologies like Zoom.  We will also be asking every student, faculty, and staff member on campus to do a personal health self-assessment every day, using an app that the University will select.  The combination of these self-assessments and the course recordings and/or broadcasts will help reinforce for students that, although class attendance remains as valuable and important as ever, they should only attend class in-person if they feel healthy and well that day.

We believe this combination of practices, combined with the University’s approach to testing, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation, and investments in improved HVAC systems, should make BC’s classrooms—and campus—as safe as possible given the challenging conditions imposed by Covid-19.

Intellectual Property Policy and Online Courses 

I recognize the important work that a number of you are doing in collaboration with the Center for Digital Innovation in Learning and University Libraries to design fully online courses for the fall semester.  Some have raised legitimate questions about how the University’s Intellectual Property Policy will apply to the products of this summer’s course development work. Recognizing the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in, the University is not claiming ownership to instructional content prepared or contributed by faculty members for online courses as a necessary response to the circumstances caused by this pandemic. In addition, except in those cases in which there is a separate agreement between the University and the faculty member related either to the specific course materials or to an initiative to create on-line graduate degree programs, the University agrees to not re-use for other purposes the digital materials created by faculty for courses offered in the spring, summer, and fall 2020 without the permission of the corresponding faculty member.

We’ll continue providing updates in our weekly emails, on the Reopening Boston College website, and through communications from your local dean’s office.  Thanks for all you’re doing to help prepare for a fall semester unlike any we’ve previously experienced. 

Best,

David Quigley
Provost and Dean of Faculties

FAQ

Summer 2020

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During the week of August 17, Boston College will conduct mandatory testing of all faculty who intend to be on campus this fall. Information regarding registration will be distributed around August 10.

Fall 2020

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