Dean’s Update on COVID-19 from March 3, 2020
March 3, 2020
Dear Questrom Community,
I write tonight to provide you with updates since my last communication related to Questrom School of Business response plan to the COVID-19 outbreak. At this point the University has cancelled all university-sponsored international group trips, and imposed a 14-day self-quarantine policy on travelers returning from Level 2 and Level 3 affected areas (to date, these are Japan, China, South Korea, Italy and Iran). While there continue to be no reported cases of the virus on our campus, we are focusing on contingency planning in the event of campus disruption and strategies to mitigate possible effects.
QUESTROM COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM
Last week, I created a response team to identify the Questrom-specific issues, needs, and solutions related to the COVID-19 outbreak and to implement our continuity of business strategies. The team is made up of the School’s senior leadership, leaders of our student services and admissions groups, and other leaders of core functions in the school (IT, facilities, human resources, finance). Associate Dean J.P. Matychak leads the response team and in this role, will also serve as Questrom’s representative to the University response team that is now meeting weekly.
In the short time of the Questrom team’s existence, they have made great progress including key decisions on field seminars, proactive announcements regarding IT support and training to teach online if necessary, and developed our own Questrom COVID-19 Information & Resource Center website. This website contains Questrom specific information, as well as additional resources relevant to COVID-19. I know the team is working incredibly hard to make sure that we stay informed about developments and are prepared to meet emergent challenges.
REMOTE TEACHING PREPAREDNESS
Earlier today, the Provost released a statement regarding remote teaching preparedness. Questrom’s response team was already hard at work to identify technology hardware needs, as well as faculty training to deliver course content online via synchronous and asynchronous means. Greg DeFronzo, executive director of Questrom ITS, is leading these efforts for Questrom. Greg will also serve as Questrom’s Remote Teaching Coordinator on the University’s Remote Teaching Preparedness team. Below are a few specific areas of immediate interest.
Questrom Remote Teaching Team
Some of you may have questions as to how you may adapt your course content to an online format or may be wondering if your course is appropriate for online delivery. I have formed the Questrom Remote Teaching Team to work with you to identify strategies to deliver content online, expedite the necessary approvals to transition to an online format, and connect you with other experts to transition your content. In addition, this team will address question related to credit hours, internship alternatives, and other related academic matters. The team is comprised of:
- Barb Bickart, Senior Associate Dean for MBA
- Frederic Brunel, Associate Dean for Undergraduate
- Steve Davidson, Associate Dean for Decision Support
- Greg DeFronzo, Executive Director of IT
- Janelle Heineke, Senior Associate Dean for Master’s Programs
Janelle will coordinate this particular effort. You may email your questions to email@example.com.
Course Delivery and Training
In Greg DeFronzo’s recent memo, he outlined that Questrom faculty will use Zoom Video Conferencing technology to deliver live remote teaching of courses should the need arise. All faculty should start preparing for how you will teach your classes remotely through the end of the semester should the need arise. I also want to bring to your attention Questrom resources that are available to support you in that effort. If your courses involve graduate students in an instructional capacity (TAs, graders, discussion leaders, etc.), please include them in your planning.
- Please be on the lookout for the email from Zoom (firstname.lastname@example.org) inviting you to activate your account. You will then be able to log in via zoom.us. This is the portal where you will see all of your meetings, as well as schedule new meetings.
- Please complete the Technology Needs Survey to help us determine if you have equipment at home that can be used to run a Zoom Video Conferencing session. Based on the survey results to date, ITS has ordered headsets for all faculty teaching this semester. The headsets will be delivered to your office by Friday March 13, 2020.
- If you would like assistance in preparing to teach remotely, please contact Questrom ITS at email@example.com. All training links and information are posted on https://questromworld.bu.edu/faculty and https://questromworld.bu.edu/covid19/. These sites will be updated regularly with new information.
- Training sessions are available. Please schedule immediately:
- Zoom Video Conferencing every day this week (Monday thru Friday) every 30 minutes from 10AM to 3PM (10AM, 10:30AM, 11:00AM, 11:30AM, etc.). There is no need to sign-up in advance. The link for the sessions is: https://questrom.zoom.us/s/605031497.
- You can also use this document in lieu of training: https://questromworld.bu.edu/covid19/files/2020/03/Zoom-Set-up-003.pdf. It includes short 1 minute videos.
- For additional help with collaboration tools see: https://questromworld.bu.edu/faculty/files/2020/03/Online-Collaboration-Tools-1.pdf
- ITS is working on training videos describing various technology tools and applications for teaching quantitative methods, formulas, equations, diagramming, etc. They will update the websites mentioned above as new material is ready.
- Your department colleagues are valuable resources. I encourage you to confer with them to develop approaches to teaching remotely that will be appropriate and effective for your courses.
Assignments, Examinations and Assessments
For the remainder of the semester, we are asking all faculty to adhere to the following assignment, examination, and assessment policies aimed at eliminating the use of paper in an effort to reduce the spread of viruses:
- Homework Assignments – Students should upload to QuestromTools electronic versions of assignments – pictures, documents, spreadsheets, etc. For help, please see: https://questromworld.bu.edu/tech/web-applications/questrom-tools/#assignments or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. ITS will develop helpful hints for students that you can post to your course sites.
- Midterms and Finals – Adopt ExamSoft or QuestromTools Tests & Quizzes instead of paper exams. I understand that this may be challenging but reducing the risk of you getting sick is my paramount concern. Greg and his team can assist you at email@example.com.
- Should the university close during finals, we will keep you updated about options for conducting examinations and assessments remotely.
Echo Lecture Capture
I have directed Greg to Echo360 lecture capture all undergraduate classes, a practice already in place at the graduate level, for the remainder of the semester to address a potential increase in student absences post spring break. This is not an option. Any concerns should be directed to your department chair and me.
REMOTE WORK PREPAREDNESS
In addition to ensuring that our faculty are able to deliver course content remotely, we are also taking steps to ensure that our staff are prepared to work remotely in support of our students. Over the past week, we have taken steps to make sure that staff have or will have the necessary tools and training to work remotely should the need arise. To that end, this week our student services teams will take part in Remote Work Readiness Drills. Beginning tomorrow until Thursday, each day we will randomly select two of our student services offices who will be informed that they have been in contact with a presumptive positive student and that they will need to work from home that day. This drill will allow us to test our team and meeting notification plans and remote work capabilities. A similar drill for pressure testing our remote teaching plans will be forthcoming.
MORE TO COME
There are still a number of areas that the team and I need to address in the coming days: travel policies, large group event policies, etc. I ask for your patience as we work through the various issues, each of which is a high priority. I can assure you that the team is working around the clock to make sure our students’ education and our work sustains.
We know that you may have additional questions. To that end, I encourage you to visit our Questrom COVID-19 site and BU’s COVID-19 site for news updates and answers to frequently asked questions. If you still have questions related to Questrom-specific policies or approaches, please submit those online at our COVID-19 site.
Recent Dean’s Updates