Instructional Flexibility for Fall Semester
08/11/2021, 10:20:01 AM
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Paula Myrick ShortSenior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Dear Faculty Member:

I realize that our faculty and students are concerned about how we will address their legitimate concerns regarding a return to face-to-face classroom instruction. When the University made the decision earlier this year to return to full in-person operations, that decision was made in the light of full access to vaccination and testing, along with rapidly declining COVID infection rates. However, given the current public health conditions in the Greater Houston area, we have reassessed our instructional operations in order to respond to these new challenges.

As President Khator indicated in her August 10 email, the University of Houston is providing faculty instructors with the flexibility to address any classroom density concerns that may exist. In providing this flexibility, it is important to remember that:

(1) any course delivery modifications implemented by the instructor should help reduce density in the classroom;

(2) all students currently enrolled in a face-to-face or hybrid class must have at least one in-person experience per class each week; and

(3) class materials covered during in-person experiences must be easily available to those students not present in the face-to-face classroom.

Faculty members who are comfortable with the existing density level in their assigned classrooms may proceed with typical face-to-face delivery during the class days and times currently listed on the class schedule. For those faculty instructors who have concerns regarding density levels in their assigned classrooms, they may choose to reduce the density as long as any modifications they choose to implement satisfy the parameters listed above. For example, faculty instructors may assign students to face-to-face attendance days alphabetically based on last name, or based on student preference, if practical. Faculty instructors choosing to reduce density by alternating student face-to-face and virtual attendance days have the flexibility to provide the virtual class experience either synchronously through livestreaming of their face-to-face class, or asynchronously by providing online access to recorded face-to-face lectures and/or providing class materials in some other digital format.

To facilitate the smooth delivery of virtual course materials, faculty instructors are encouraged to provide materials through Blackboard or Microsoft Teams. Course shells for both formats can be requested by logging in to AccessUH and clicking on the “Course Request System” icon. We also have a number of other resources available to faculty instructors to assist them with virtual instruction and the use of online instructional tools that can be accessed through either the Power-On website or the FED website.

An updated syllabus document been created to assist faculty instructors with communicating current policies, resources and expectations to our students. This document includes required language for inclusion in all syllabi along with recommended language for faculty consideration concerning encouragement of vaccinations and expectations for wearing of face coverings. In addition, a FAQ for faculty instructors is also being prepared. Both documents will be available later this week on the Office of the Provost website.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere admiration and heart-felt thanks for your continued resilience and persistence in our shared efforts toward meeting the instructional needs of our students. You are most appreciated.

Paula Myrick Short
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UH System
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, UH
Distinguished Professor of Education | 832.842.0550

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