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Winter 2022 Welcome & Update
January 04, 2022

Dear Senate Colleagues,

I’d like to wish all of you a happy new year. The rise of the omicron variant made the end of 2021 and the start of 2022 rather challenging to put it mildly. While starting the quarter off with remote instruction was truly inevitable from a public health standpoint, I also recognize that the quick shift to remote instruction, this current state of limbo, and the thought of rapidly shifting instructional modality to the classroom after the mandated remote period, puts a significant strain on faculty, students, and staff. Amidst all this uncertainty, I wanted to reach out to my Senate colleagues to share a few updates in response to this rapidly changing situation.

The Senate leadership is in consultation with the Administration about the public health data being collected and what it means for a safe repopulation of campus and instruction. I am also participating in a Faculty Town Hall being planned as we speak for Friday afternoon (January 7th); the main objective is to update faculty regarding campus/health data and instruction plans. Meanwhile, the Senate’s Educational Policy Committee is working on long-term considerations for teaching modality in Winter 2022 based on what the data following the holiday break will tell us.

We all recognize that for many courses, in-person instruction is the most appropriate instructional modality. We also recognize that it will not be easy to pivot mid-quarter from remote to in-person instruction. In all of this, flexibility and contingency planning are key to making this transition possible. As my December 21, 2021 joint statement with EVC Simmons mentioned, instructors can revisit their modality if new health or caregiving issues have emerged. Also, as has been repeated numerous times throughout the pandemic, the Academic Senate’s Policy on Distance Education Courses allows up to 50 percent of an in-person course to be delivered remotely. To give instructors with in-person courses more flexibility in planning their Winter 2022 courses and classroom instruction, I have confirmed with the Educational Policy Committee that instructors are allowed to use up to five additional weeks in the quarter to teach remotely (following the mandated period of remote instruction). Conversely, we also remain committed to ensure a return to the optimal in-person instructional modality for those courses/instructors that most need it as soon as public health measures allow. In sum, we are watching the data closely, and as the situation evolves, the Senate is considering whether additional accommodations for Winter 2022 instruction are necessary.

There are so many scenarios during this quarter that will warrant flexibility, for both instructors and students, and flexibility comes in many forms. I will continue to work with the relevant Senate committees to advocate for decisions focused on educational continuity and inclusive practices rather than instructional modality alone. In that spirit, I encourage instructors and department chairs to develop contingency plans for addressing situations where students or the instructor may miss class sessions due to COVID-related situations. On my end, I have asked the Administration to consider building out additional resources to materially support instructional continuity and will continue to do so.

Despite many challenges to work through as the Chair of the Divisional Academic Senate this year, I have found the best part of this job is the opportunity to interact with my Senate colleagues. I am in awe of our ability to continuously adapt and adjust to this ever-changing situation, even as we all are experiencing the fatigue from nearly two years of COVID-19. The Academic Senate is here to support faculty interests by providing faculty advice to the Administration and directing the educational function of this campus. Towards that goal, I would like to invite you to join Senate Vice Chair Nancy Postero and me for a series of open discussion forums scheduled for late January and early February where we will share updates about Senate initiatives and look forward to hearing from our colleagues. More details with the schedule and registration details will be sent next week.

Tara Javidi
Academic Senate, San Diego Division