Maintaining Educational Continuity in the Context of COVID-19

Dear Colleagues:

With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and after L.A. County's March 4 announcement of a state of emergency and increased cases in Los Angeles County, LMU is preparing for a variety of scenarios, including circumstances in which students, faculty, or staff may become ill or unable to be on campus in the near future. The university shared a Community Advisory with LMU students, faculty, staff and parents on March 3 announcing new travel restrictions, and we will continue providing proactive and responsive guidance as appropriate. Please visit LMU's Coronavirus Website for the latest information and guidance.

After consultation with Faculty Senate and the academic deans, I share the following guidance to best support our students and our educational mission. Your dean's office will also be sending you college- and school-specific guidance. If you encounter any challenges or require additional support, please consult with your department chair, program director or instructional technologist.

  1. Please plan how you will adjust course attendance policies so as not to penalize students who may become ill or are placed under quarantine. Ongoing course activities may or may not be able to continue synchronously online via video conferencing (Zoom) or classroom capture through Echo360. If you do wish to use Echo360 in a specialized space, please contact the ITS Service Desk at 310.338.8777, and they will do their best to accommodate. If synchronous instruction is not feasible, consider using Brightspace discussion boards, Brightspace quizzes, Voicethread, or FlipGrid to support asynchronous instruction and engagement. It is likely that asynchronous instruction will be easier for faculty and students in the event of an emergency or campus closure. In the absence of video recording devices, even cellphones can capture sufficient audio and video. Additional guidance and support for faculty in need of moving coursework online can be found here or by consulting with your instructional technologist.
  2. Upload all key course documents (e.g., syllabi, assignments, reading lists) to your course(s) in Brightspace so that students can access the materials even if they are unable to come to campus. If the course has a separate website, provide a link to it from your Brightspace course.
  3. All general-purpose classrooms are equipped with Echo360 classroom capture capability. If you teach in a general-purpose classroom, please activate lecture capture for your course by submitting a request to the ITS Service Desk at 310.338.7777 or helpdesk@lmu.edu. Use of the Echo360 classroom capture tool set will ensure that course lectures and demonstrations are saved online and shareable with students from your Brightspace course.
  4. Establish and maintain a regularly updated gradebook in Brightspace or another electronic means that could be shared with appropriate individuals if needed (i.e. an Excel file or a scanned PDF of your paper gradebook located in Box). This is a key continuity measure that will ensure an accurate record of student work should an instructor become ill or unable to teach. Directions for setting up the Brightspace grade center can be found here. If Brightspace is not an option for you, please consider uploading your gradebook to Box and sharing the link with your department chair or dean's office.
  5. Ensure that final exams and papers can be reliably collected and graded, and that final course grades can be computed and submitted. Brightspace submission folders are designed for collecting and evaluating student work digitally online. Box is an alternative. Regardless of how you choose to collect work, ensure that the method is clearly articulated to students.
  6. We have learned that faculty know best how to contact their students and sometimes use platforms for doing so outside of email. It would be much appreciated if you would let your students know of LMU's Coronavirus Website (especially the student FAQs on the site) and remind them that their LMU email address is our official channel of communication with them.

I anticipate there will be more questions than answers during this rapidly changing time. Please email emergencyinfo@lmu.edu with specific questions. I appreciate your understanding as we collaborate on solutions, and I am confident that our LMU community will do what we do best: unite, care for each other, and ensure that we can provide our students with the outstanding education they know and have come to expect.

In gratitude,

Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost