As you all know, COVID-19 is spreading in the U.S. and abroad, bringing with it threats of disrupting education. We already are seeing a few schools closing in areas with local outbreaks, as well as impacts to overseas/exchange programs. So far, Indiana University hasn’t been impacted much, but university leadership is noting the potential need to provide coursework online. Here are a few early suggestions for preparing for potential impacts on your teaching.
Consider potential closures and absences: Much of the concern around COVID-19 centers around what might happen if the campus closes, but we should spend just as much effort focusing on preparation for extended student absences. If students are sick and/or asked to self-quarantine, we shouldn’t have class policies that inadvertently encourage them to come to class and risk infecting their classmates (and instructors!). What can you do to help sick students keep up with the class while staying at home?
Make plans now: While you may not need to start creating video lectures, online assignments, or alternate assessments now, you should start thinking about how you would do those if needed. Having a plan and knowing the tools you’d need would make your work easier later. Look at the Keep Teaching website for ideas on how to prepare and the resources you’ll need to do it. The CITL will supplement these resources as needed. Please recognize, however, that individual assistance will be hard for us to provide if demand spikes, so start with Keep Teaching and the resources there; we will do our best to fill in the gaps and assist as we are able.
Talk to your students now: Your students are certainly watching the news about COVID-19, too, and they probably have some concerns about what would happen if they or their classmates start getting sick. Be honest with them, and share what you are starting to do in order to be ready if COVID-19 reaches our IU population. Discussing this now can get students used to the fact that you will be flexible if they get sick, and that might lead to healthier behaviors on their part.
If COVID-19 impacts IU directly, you will receive more guidance from leaders of IUB, your school, and your department, likely including expectations and guidelines for continuing teaching. In the meantime, I encourage you to go through the Keep Teaching website and start considering what steps you can take now to prepare for this or other emergencies that might arise.
Like you, I am hopeful that we won’t need to implement any of these plans, but it is better to start preparing a bit now, just in case. So do some planning now, talk to your students about this, and take care of yourself.