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Note from the Vice Chancellor: COVID-19 & Educational Continuity Planning

Dear Colleagues,

As President Reif outlined in his letter to the community last evening, while the risk to the MIT community is low, we are closely monitoring the global spread of COVID-19 and are developing plans to offer as much educational continuity as we can in situations where students, faculty, and staff may not be able to be on campus for a brief or extended period of time, or are otherwise faced with limitations to normal academic progress due to COVID-19.

With that in mind, we urge you to start to take steps now to mitigate the significant disruption to our teaching and learning activities that would occur if in-person educational activities are not possible. This might include using digital tools, online content from OpenCourseWare, MITx and elsewhere, and other modes to teach remotely, as well as altering syllabi, and re-scheduling exams, and crafting new ways of assessing students’ work, among others.

To help us identify appropriate resources and how to best deploy them at a central or local level, please fill out this short survey as soon as possible.

There are 1,251 classes occurring this spring semester: ~750 have more than 10 enrollments and ~60 have more than 100 enrollments. We will be doing our best to offer help and resources, but we will also need significant help from faculty, instructors, and TAs.  As a university that prides itself on hands-on and lab-based experiential learning, we will need to need to be creative and flexible during this uncertain period, making some compromises while offering our students as much educational continuity as we can.

Please find, below, some general strategies you, your teaching team, and department might wish to consider, as well as immediate resources and contact points.

Note: We have already sent emails to instructors of several large undergraduate classes to help with advance planning. We also realize that some programs like Sloan may have different technology and support structures, so instructors should consult with local leadership about how to best proceed.

We are working on developing a dynamic information site and resources to support educational continuity and will remain in touch with more specific information about options. It is vital that you make sure that any potential technology solution you might wish to use is centrally supported / licensed by MIT and adheres with FERPA guidelines. We are available to provide guidance.

Finally, we are also developing a series of focused communications about graduate research, academic events, experiential learning and travel abroad, and academic policies.  We are working to get these to you soon.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns we have created a dedicated email:

Thank you for your help.

Ian & Krishna

Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Krishna Rajagopal, Dean for Digital Learning and William A. M. Burden Prof of Physics

Advice for instructors and those that support instruction

Take these immediate steps:

Determine your ability to support remote / online teaching as well as to perform other activities if you are not able to be on campus. Assess potential off-site locations (including your personal residence) that would be suitable for remote teaching. Do these locations have robust and reliable internet connectivity.

Check any device you may use for teaching to assure it has functional MIT Certificates.

Check that you will be able to use Duo (two-factor authenticate) from your remote location (E.g., not your office phone).

If you anticipate needing a secure connection install and configure AnyConnect VPN.

Assess the subjects you are teaching this semester and work with the instructional team to ensure that your class site (via Stellar/LMOD/Canvas or other system) materials are up-to-date and complete, including student information, homework assignments, and discussion boards. In addition, determine whether there is a full or partial online equivalent of a class through MITx, OpenCourseWare, or other channels (e.g., YouTube, websites, etc.), and whether the online equivalent might be  a suitable replacement for campus teaching (or what you would need to do to make it so).

Establish the preferred mode of communication among you, your instructional team, and your students (email, text messages, discussion forums, or social media). To ensure that students receive all of your communications, it is recommended that you are consistent with your communication channel.

The Registrar’s Office will begin to systematically verify all MIT students’ alternative addresses, email addresses, and other contact information. In addition, in collaboration with departments, they will lead an effort to review course policies, including attendance, participation, grading, exams, among others, as well as develop a communication to students about expectations and requirements in the event that they cannot come to class for a significant period of time.