Latest e-mail to the faculty.

Even though the decision concerning whether the college will offer all-remote or some in-person instruction will not be made until July 1, all departments and programs (and thus all of you) are working hard to determine what kind of curriculum will be offered in either of these paths.

How much time is being wasted by the continuing delusion that students might not be on campus in the fall? They will be. Why pretend otherwise?

We are asking you to let the Office of the Dean of the Faculty know by June 20, 2020 whether you would prefer to teach in person or remotely should the institutional decision be to allow students back to campus in the fall semester. This deadline will allow chairs to submit both an all-remote and a return-to-campus version of the course offerings to the Registrars’ office by late June. Very shortly after Maud’s announcement on July 1, the Registrar will make available to students an abbreviated form of the catalog that, if the decision is a return-to-campus one, will indicate the modality of the course offering (remote, hybrid, in-person).

You do not need to submit any documentation concerning your decision, as it is entirely up to you and need not be related to your age, health condition, etc. If you wish to have a conversation about this decision, Kashia Pieprzak, Sara Dubow, John Gerry, or either of us would be happy to speak with you.

This seems very weird to me. Are other colleges doing this? Mine isn’t. Nor have I heard of any others that are. Since when does anyone, without providing any reason/justification, allowed to perform their job however they see fit?

I am certain that, at almost every elite college, the Administration is sensitive to faculty concerns. Any faculty member who came to them with a good reason for why they needed to teach remotely — or take a leave of absence or move to a different office or anything else — would be listened to sympathetically. But to phrase the issue in this way opens the door to abuse.

Perhaps more important is this:

Nonetheless, even if the college opens for in-person instruction, some students will still need to take classes remotely and some faculty will still need or want to teach remotely.

It seems like madness to insist on a system in which students can take (some? any?) classes remotely. Williams is a residential college and it requires a students physical presence. If, for some reason, a student can’t be on campus — either because of travel restrictions or because of health issues — then the student should take a leave of absence.

It is madness to require that every class be set up to enable virtual attendance. Or am I misreading this?

In a recent survey of faculty, those of you who responded indicated that about 75% of you would be willing to teach students in person. Many of you also noted that such willingness is contingent on factors such as the availability of childcare and PPE.

As always, imagining that the College is run by a cabal of corrupt insiders is not a bad method for predicting its actions. Your childcare is not Williams’ responsibility.

Anything else in the e-mail worth discussing?

Thanks to our anonymous source! Full e-mail below:

Dear faculty colleagues,

We hope you are as well as can be. We are writing today to share some information relevant for those of you scheduled to teach next year. Even though the decision concerning whether the college will offer all-remote or some in-person instruction will not be made until July 1, all departments and programs (and thus all of you) are working hard to determine what kind of curriculum will be offered in either of these paths. Many of you have been asking questions about the conditions for teaching on campus, if the college chooses the path of inviting students back to campus for the fall, and about the process for faculty to decide about whether or not to teach in person.

We are asking you to let the Office of the Dean of the Faculty know by June 20, 2020 whether you would prefer to teach in person or remotely should the institutional decision be to allow students back to campus in the fall semester. This deadline will allow chairs to submit both an all-remote and a return-to-campus version of the course offerings to the Registrars’ office by late June. Very shortly after Maud’s announcement on July 1, the Registrar will make available to students an abbreviated form of the catalog that, if the decision is a return-to-campus one, will indicate the modality of the course offering (remote, hybrid, in-person).

You do not need to submit any documentation concerning your decision, as it is entirely up to you and need not be related to your age, health condition, etc. If you wish to have a conversation about this decision, Kashia Pieprzak, Sara Dubow, John Gerry, or either of us would be happy to speak with you.

The CAP is attentive to the need to communicate clearly with all faculty about how the evaluation of teaching will be performed next year. Assistant Professors should not feel compelled to teach in one modality over another because of concerns about how teaching will be evaluated.

Faculty members at Williams value our interactions with students and take joy in working with them in person. We know that all faculty are eager for the conditions to be such that we can all return to teaching in person. Nonetheless, even if the college opens for in-person instruction, some students will still need to take classes remotely and some faculty will still need or want to teach remotely. In a recent survey of faculty, those of you who responded indicated that about 75% of you would be willing to teach students in person. Many of you also noted that such willingness is contingent on factors such as the availability of childcare and PPE.

The working group for having students return to campus, co-chaired by Fred Puddester and Bojana Mladenovic, has established a series of baseline conditions that would need to be met in order for any in-person instruction to take place next year. We share them below, so that you can make a more informed decision about whether you would be willing to teach in person or would prefer to teach remotely.

● Robust testing plan & contact tracing will be available

● Faculty, staff, and students will wear masks in ALL common spaces (hallways, elevators, stairways, classrooms, common spaces, etc.) or when unable to practice social distancing

● We will have cleaning protocols (and required cleaning equipment) available for all spaces that are in use

● Social distancing practices will be maintained (6 feet)

● Local public schools will be open for in-person teaching (we realize, however, that we cannot control whether they are open in a modified manner, which we know may affect faculty decisions)

● Daycare providers will be open for in-person care

● Campus buildings will be closed to visitors with limited exceptions (example: contract vendors for construction, repairs)

● Employees who can work remotely will continue to be encouraged to do so

This group recognizes that we cannot remove all risk to the community (that is always true, of course), but this is clearly the case for COVID-19 so long as there are no effective treatments, let alone a vaccine.

To indicate your preference, please complete this brief form. Again, please submit your response no later than June 20th. We do understand that if your circumstances or external conditions alter significantly in the coming weeks, you may need to alter your preference. At this point, we are trying to collect the best information we can and appreciate your taking a moment to let us know.

Best,

Denise and Safa

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