On Wednesday, Wayne State held a virtual presidential town hall focused on the responsibilities and concerns of WSU faculty and staff returning to campus in the fall.
Topics covered by members of the WSU Academic Restart Committee included university resources, online instruction and facility and safety concerns.
Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Carolyn Hafner said those who can work remotely should continue to do so until it's safe and appropriate for everyone to return to campus.
The HR restart subcommittee developed the Return to Campus Guide and Checklist, which provides “one stop shopping” on information to help navigate decision making regarding fall activities and operations, she said.
“It has a number of informational tools, links, tips and resources to help leaders to make decisions that will not only decide who's going to do what and when on a very limited basis, but also how can we continue to ensure workplace safety as well as get our work done effectively and efficiently.”
Hosting final exams or small group meetings on-campus will be allowed, but are strongly advised against if operating remotely is possible, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Keith Whitfield said. Exams must be planned with department chairs in advance to ensure they are conducted in spaces that allow for social distancing.
“You have to have a good idea of when your classes are going to have those exams so we'll make sure we have the room available for you,” he said.
Faculty and academic staff will have access to technology that will aid in online instruction, Daren Hubbard said, chief information officer and associate vice president of computing and information technology.
One of the features available to staff is Echo360 Lecture Capture, he said. This platform gives students 24/7 access to classroom discussions, presentation materials and the lecture itself. Faculty can even record their lectures and upload them directly to Canvas using the platform.
“If you're teaching on campus this fall, we're working currently with the registrar’s office and the Office for Teaching and Learning to ensure that once those rooms are identified, we are going to be making sure that the technology is there and available so that flexible types of presentations can be supported,” Hubbard said.
Most buildings on campus are currently locked and employees will have to get access from their department head or manager, Robert Davenport said, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Management. Approval is also needed from the WSU Police Department.
“As far as the future goes, once we know exactly what that academic schedule looks like for classes within each of the buildings, WSUPD will then use their technology to unlock the facilities as those schedules permit,” he said.
It is important to remember this is a learning experience for everyone, College of Nursing Dean and Public Health Chair Laurie Lauzon Clabo said.
COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place, being enforced through the Student Code of Conduct and HR for faculty, she said.
Clabo said faculty and staff leading by example will encourage others to do the same.
“For faculty and leadership, the most important thing we can do is model behaviors —making sure that we are the people doing our campus daily screener and wearing our masks proudly and publicly so that folks know that this is part of what our expectations of taking care of ourselves and each other are," she said.
Nour Rahal is the news editor of The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.