Alternative Instructional Delivery for Remainder of Spring Semester
This past week has been unprecedented in both instances and history. Our global connectedness is becoming more evident by the hour as we watch the spread of the coronavirus across continents, oceans and now our interstate borders. The world is collectively working to prevent community spread by closing public spaces, canceling events and reducing opportunities for unnecessary physical contact between people. The University of Central Oklahoma has been active in doing our part in this global and national effort while remaining keenly focused on the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff.
One week ago, we were the first in the state to announce that we would extend spring break by one week to allow faculty and staff to prepare to teach our students through a number of alternative instructional delivery methods through April 12. Leading up to and through spring break, they have been working to shift courses currently taught in-person to remote availability. Our faculty and staff have demonstrated their commitment to our students and the university through their quick and creative responses to this challenge.
Today, we made the difficult decision to continue alternative instructional delivery methods through the remainder of the spring semester. We are committed to ensuring students can complete their academic goals at UCO. The duration of this crisis is unknown but UCO will be ready to continue teaching remotely as long as necessary.
We are taking measures to ensure coursework is accessible and in doing so acknowledge that a portion of our population does not have access to technology or the internet at home. In an effort to remove this learning barrier, the university will have 200 hotspots and 200 laptops available for our students to check-out for educational purposes for the remainder of the semester. These technology resources will help to bridge the gap for a number of students that rely on the university for technology access. We will communicate the process for checking out this equipment soon.
While our coronavirus website is updated daily and offers answers to many of your questions, effort continues to make the university a safe place to live and work. Hand sanitizer is now available in all campus buildings, computer labs are equipped with sanitizing supplies and our workforce is practicing social distancing. We are expanding our telework option and utilizing shift work to decrease the number of employees on campus at any one time and allow parents to be home with their children. We have spread out employees in condensed office spaces and regular meetings are shifting to web conferences. Additionally, campus dining is now confined to Ayers Kitchen with to-go options only. Details about continuing campus services and alternative work arrangements will soon be sent to faculty and staff.
We understand that some of our students may not have another housing option and wish to stay on campus right now. We want those students to know that they are welcome to stay here and we are working to keep their living environments clean and healthy and core services available to them.
Our campus community will collaborate on alternatives to our traditional commencement ceremonies for our spring graduates. We know this is an important milestone marking the completion of a meaningful journey that deserves recognition and celebration.
As a Broncho parent myself, I would want to know that my child’s university is taking this crisis seriously. I am confident in telling you today that there is a groundswell of dedication and support on this campus to put the health and wellbeing of the members of the Broncho family at the forefront of our decisions. Sid Schwarz, a rabbi in the District of Columbia, reminded us that the practice of physical distancing may be necessary to break the chain of the virus but the practice of social solidarity is essential to maintaining our connection to each other now more than ever. We are in this together and we will get through this together.