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Message from the Chair

Plans for Spring 2022

TL; DR: Our plan for spring 2022 is to be fully in-person, but also to have robust academic continuity plans; department heads and instructors should develop written plans for backup instruction and substitute instructors; we have updated resources for instructors & faculty for maintaining academic continuity; and covidclasshelp@mit.edu will continue to be a clearinghouse for a range of questions and requests. 

Dear Faculty and Instructors,

Thank you for your continued creativity and commitment during this modified IAP. As we prepare to begin the spring semester, we want to provide you with additional guidance and resources. As outlined in the January 18 letter to the MIT community and in the January 14 8AM call slides, our plan for spring is to be fully in-person to best maintain our academic and research missions on campus.

As pandemic conditions continue to improve at MIT and in the Greater Boston area, we have increased confidence in moving forward with our approach.

Context
During IAP, we are seeing that students who have to isolate for the five days recommended by the CDC due to Covid, are often able to keep up with their coursework. We are grateful to faculty and instructors for doing an extremely impressive job supporting academic continuity in such cases, including when they themselves have needed to be out.

For the spring, as with the fall and IAP, our goal is to ensure robust academic continuity – especially since we cannot predict the path of the pandemic, and because we anticipate that some students and instructors may be out due to illness or other constraints. With that in mind,

  • All instructors should prepare clear back-up plans and have the ability to go remote in case things change course (see next section).
  • The same academic policies and processes from the fall will remain for semester-long remote teaching requests (medical requests will be reviewed by HR; pedagogical requests by CoC/CGP; and all other requests by Deans’ Council).
  • The same policies and processes will remain for temporary switches to Zoom teaching due to instructors or a significant number of students being out: Instructors have discretion to change up to 25% of their subject's contact hours. Please inform your department chair of the changes you adopt, which could include a temporary shift to instruction over Zoom or an adjustment to the nature/format of an assignment.

Guidance / Action Items
For the start of the semester, we ask department heads and instructors to develop written plans for backup instruction and substitute instructors and disseminate them to everyone on the instructional team. For example, lab instructional teams should have a written plan designating coverage for in-person labs. Instructors, especially of in-person intensive classes, should develop and distribute a written plan for backup in-person instruction (with backup instructors for each class identified from among the team and elsewhere in the department when needed).

Instructors should also develop written guidance for students on how work should be made up, or what to expect for work that cannot be made up, and include this written guidance on their syllabi.

We suggest all instructors review the updated guidance on what to do if you have Covid-19 symptoms, test positive, or are a close contact and brush up on the latest policies updates via MIT Now. Finally, although MIT is not requiring specific mask types, we encourage everyone to use a high quality, well-fitting mask

Resources & Contacts
We continue to work with department heads and deans to ensure faculty and instructors have the resources they need to provide continuity, and more generally, take advantage of new teaching modes. 

Resources

Contacts

  • Covidclasshelp@mit.edu will continue to be a clearinghouse for a range of questions and requests from instructors and students. 
  • Questions about rules and regulations regarding assignments and final exams, especially assignments or tests planned for the very end of the semester, can be directed to: exam-termregs@mit.edu.

Many of our students continue to find this year challenging; our student leadership has voiced this concern, and we have seen an increased number of flags and petitions in the fall. Many of you are exhausted as well. We are actively working with everyone to enable as much flexibility and understanding as possible. If there is anything we can do to help, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you.  

Sincerely,

Lily and Ian

Lily Tsai, Chair of the Faculty
Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education