Dear ULFA Members,

As you are well aware, the University of Lethbridge has cancelled classes for Monday, March 16th and Tuesday, March 17th. Academic staff have been asked to use Monday and Tuesday as the transition days to prepare moving lessons to alternative models beginning on Wednesday, March 18th.

ULFA has concerns about such a hurried shift in how we deliver our courses, but appreciate that the health of our students, our colleagues and ourselves needs to be addressed. Compounding the problem is the closure of schools and daycares, which places those of us with dependents in especially difficult circumstances.

I spoke to President Mike Mahon and Interim VP Academic Erasmus Okine yesterday evening and raised our concerns, and they assured me that the transition to alternative instruction will allow for the broadest possible flexibility, even if what a faculty member does amounts to posting readings to course moodle pages. No standard directive for alternative delivery was mandated for faculty members, individually, or as members of academic units. They did state, however, that the method of evaluation promised in the course outline must still be respected, so that if a final exam was part of a course evaluation scheme, it could not be cancelled. They did acknowledge that they did not know how exams would go forward in the current environment, but did promise that another message to academic staff would be forthcoming on Tuesday.

ULFA notes that this move to alternative means of delivering courses is a response to a public health emergency and does not represent a precedent regarding online course offerings in the future. As well, the copyright for any content you create in producing an alternative manner of delivering a course still remains yours.

The extra efforts we make in accommodating teaching our students in this crisis should be noted on our PARs.

In closing this note, I do want to draw your attention to some articles of our collective agreement concerning health. Should you find yourself caring for gravely ill family members, Article 33.08.3 (Compassionate Care Leave) may be of particular interest. Should you fall ill yourself, Articles 33.02 and 34.04 (Medical Leave) will be applicable.

There is also a process in place for students and faculty who utilize the self-reporting Registry to report self-isolation or absence due to illness. Once an individual registers and identifies which Faculty/School they are associated with, a message gets sent to a contact person within the Faculty/School. Once received, a representative will reach out to the individual acknowledging awareness of the situation and offering support. All communications regarding the Registry and those using are strictly confidential and not to be shared or disseminated outside of those directly contacted.

Please keep yourselves well,

David Kaminski
President, University of Lethbridge Faculty Association