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Dear VCU faculty,

To say the least, this has been a very difficult week. On Monday the majority of you will pave the way for our new, but temporary, normal. Those of you in the health sciences schools already have a full week of remote teaching under your belts.

The preparations that you have made and continue to make on behalf of our students are remarkable. In this moment, we know that VCU faculty values and commitments to students have built the foundation for a strong and successful finish for the spring semester.

Although we realize that most of you have already completed your preparations and have reached out to your students to help them prepare for their classes, we know that you may be anxious. Some of your plans will go off without a hitch; others will need refinement. Just know that we are here for you. Teams throughout the university have mobilized to provide the support that you need when you need it. A central web resource for faculty, Keep on Teaching, has been developed and is being updated regularly to support your transition to remote. Please bookmark this page: altlab.vcu.edu/rapid-response/. We hope you will take a moment to complete the brief form so that we know how to best assist you.

And remember, your students are anxious. They are concerned about not being in face-to-face classes. They are concerned about their academic progress and success. And they are concerned about their internet connectivity (or lack of) and access to technology. These and other concerns are addressed in a student-focused webpage, Keep on Learning, which is also being updated regularly. Please bookmark this page as well: altlab.vcu.edu/rapid-response/students/.

Just a few moments ago, a letter was sent to students, with tips for being ready to start their remote learning. As you make final preparations to start your class, consider a few additional tips from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE):

  • Contact your students and let them know you have their backs. Even a quick note will help alleviate their high levels of anxiety about the unknowns.
  • In addition to sharing your updated syllabus with your students, let them know what has changed.
  • Encourage students to visit our Keep on Learning website and especially the Tips for Success When Learning Online website.
  • Let your students know if there are any new technologies or applications you may be shifting to for remote instruction. Ask if they face challenges regarding internet access and device access. Information for students facing these challenges can be found at the Internet Access Options section of the Keep on Learning website.
  • Do a test run of all of your technological tools.
  • Build in breaks for your own self-care.

Checking your university email account regularly is critical as we move forward. We are committed to keeping you informed, answering your questions, and providing support.

We will get through this. We are ONE VCU. And, together we transform.

With gratitude,

Gail Hackett, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs
Professor of psychology

Peter Buckley, M.D.
Interim senior vice president for health sciences
Interim CEO, VCU Health
Dean, School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System