Dear College of Marin Faculty:
As noted in President Coon’s message yesterday the College will conduct the first week of instruction online and hope to have in-person instruction begin January 31. This extra week affords us more time for any employees and students who have yet to receive booster shots to do so and to let the Omicron surge further run its course.
It’s hard to believe it was 22 months ago when I first wrote an all-faculty email about needing to shift from in-person instruction to online. The months in between have been trying, to say the least. None of us signed up for this when we entered higher education and I know this latest need to pivot weighs on us heavier because of all the burdens the pandemic has brought us to this point, seemingly relentlessly.
Whether you see this temporary shift to online instruction to start the semester as a step backward or a relief (or perhaps a bit of both), now is different than 22 months ago. We have worked tirelessly to ensure employees and students are vaccinated and wearing masks, thus minimizing the instances of transmission and severe illness due to COVID and its variants. Our campuses remain open and our preparations for the spring semester continue. Every day from my office I see students seeking information, registering, and familiarizing themselves with the campus they want (and need) to be their place of community.
The Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)—updated from the version I sent to you in December—covers much of the information you will need to prepare for both the initial online start to the semester and the in-person instruction that will follow. As noted in the FAQ, if you have a question not answered in it, please reach out to your dean/director and we will update the document with additional answers.
While I have put what follows into the FAQ so you have it to save and print, below are a few new key pieces of information given the changes to the start of the term:
Exceptions to Week 1 Remote Instruction
We anticipate granting a limited number of exceptions to courses that must begin the semester in person. The general approach is that if a class or lab can meet outdoors and the instructor has a good case for why meeting in person is critical in the first week, we will likely approve it. Any in-person classroom instruction that must take place indoors is unlikely to be approved. If you wish to have a course considered for a first-week in-person exception, please contact your dean/director immediately and no later than the end of Tuesday, January 11. We will quickly make decisions so students can be notified appropriately and in time for the start of the semester.
Preparing for Week 1 Remote Instruction
All spring courses scheduled as in-person instruction must meet as synchronous online courses in the first week (starting January 22 for Saturday classes and January 24 for Monday-Friday classes). In other words, if you are teaching a class at 9 am on Tuesdays, you will need to plan for a 9 am Zoom class session on January 25.
While students will receive communication from Enrollment Services in the form of texts and emails, we need you to reach out to students enrolled in your courses to explain this shift in the first week and provide clear, detailed instructions for what they need to do in the first week. A sample message has been included in the attached FAQ.
Courses in Canvas will be made available to students on January 14, 2022
- Course Welcome Letters should be ready for students to view (if possible) by January 14. Please ensure Course Welcome letters are updated to include important information about the first week of classes, including Zoom links for in-person classes that will meet virtually the week of January 24
- Unpublish any content or modules that you do not want students to access prior to the first day of class
- Remind students to check Canvas regularly for updates and course information from the instructor
- Refer to the start of the semester checklist, linked here (and excerpted below and in the Frequently Asked Questions)
I am extremely grateful to you for your persistence, your commitment to our students and their education, and the grace you show your colleagues as we all do our best to get to a better place. I will write with another update next week.
Jonathan Eldridge, Ed.D
Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Learning and Success
2.1 Term Start Checklist - Prepare your Course!
All Canvas courses are published one week prior to the term start date.
The following tasks should be performed prior to course opening and the start of the semester. Links to instructions in the Canvas Guides and other pages within this resource course are provided.
Reminder: This is an excellent time to review and fix course accessibility issues! Do your images contain alt text? Are you using text headings? Are your videos captioned? View the following page for more tips on maintaining an accessible course: 3.3 Accessibility and Universal Design
Note: If you wish to combine your course sections into one course shell, please review the FERPA Compliance in Combined LMS Courses information located on the Online Learning website. Submit your request for combined courses using the following form: Canvas Combined Course Request. This should be done prior to importing content.
- Import course content from the previous term
- Check for updates to COM Module 0 and Student Support page in Canvas Commons
- Upload your current syllabus or revise the Syllabus tool
- Select your course home page
- Reorder and hide your course navigational links
- Navigate your course from student view
- Publish/Unpublish modules, content, activities, etc. that should be hidden or visible to students
- Revise activity due dates and availability dates from the previous term.
- Check your course end date and restriction settings to ensure your students have access (or don't have access)
- Enable Zoom meetings (if applicable)
- Run the Canvas Link Validator