The Washington State University provost is urging faculty to prepare to teach the rest of the spring semester using alternative teaching methods in response to the spread of COVID-19.

In a letter to WSU faculty, Bryan Slinker states that faculty may have to teach using “distance methods” in case face-to-face teaching is halted to mitigate the spread of the disease.

“To continue to teach out in the face of the disruptions that will soon reach us, we will have to band together as a community to help each other through this,” the letter reads. “We cannot duplicate fully the face-to-face experience when switching to distance methods, but we can do a very good job for most things.”

The WSU Everett campus announced it will transition to online classes instead of in-person classes for this week as a precaution. WSU Everett has not seen any cases of COVID-19 among its students, faculty or staff.

The letter states that WSU must teach out the rest of the semester in order for students to receive their full financial aid under federal guidelines. WSU is offering training sessions to its faculty on how to deliver courses from a distance, including using tools such as Blackboard and YouTube. Course exams can be proctored online.

“Switching to alternate forms of instruction will require us to ensure academic integrity and quality, operating within the spirit of federal guidelines, all the while being as flexible and creative as we can in response to unprecedented circumstance,” the letter states.

Slinker asked faculty to be sensitive to students who may not have ready access to broadband, modern devices, or who need disability accommodations.

The letter states that if COVID-19 reaches the Palouse, it is possible some faculty may not be able to engage in their classes even remotely.

“It is likely we will find ourselves in these situations yet this spring, perhaps at a larger scale than normal,” the letter states. “So please be thinking about contingency plans to help each other, and perhaps record lectures well ahead so they are still available even if you are not.”

A letter to students from Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president of student affairs, states that WSU “will continue to provide the educational opportunities needed to keep you on your way to graduation.”

Students will receive written updates from WSU if anything changes.

Students are also being asked to treat their peers with respect. Members of the WSU community have reported acts of bias related to COVID-19, particularly against Asian Americans and the Pacific Islander community, according to a letter to students, faculty and staff from the Office of International Programs.

Those who experience harassment can report their concerns to the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation.

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