Personnel Taskforce Recommendations for Staff and Faculty
- Eliza Pavalko (Chair), OVPFAA
- Carol Barnett, Office of General Counsel
- Brad Heim, O’Neill School
- Laureen Maines, Kelley
- Jane McLeod, the College
- Craig Medlyn, Human Resources
- Christiana Ochoa, Maurer School
- Greg Siering, CITL
- Marietta Simpson, Jacobs School
- Paul Sokol, College
- Emily Springston, Office of Institutional Equity
- Donna Stevens, Education
Mission: Determine needs of faculty and staff working remotely and assess issues of returning to campus under various public health scenarios determined by the Restart Committee.
General Recommendations for All Employees
- IU recognizes that all faculty and staff are committed to doing all they can safely do to ensure a successful learning experience for our students. All faculty and staff are expected to work collaboratively and innovatively to help the university fulfill this commitment.
- Units should make every effort to limit face-to-face interaction and use remote technologies whenever possible, even for those working on campus. For staff in student-facing positions, for example, virtual kiosks could be used for customer service interactions. Whenever possible, vacant office space that becomes available should be considered for staff who need to be on campus. Even when faculty or staff are on campus, remote technologies should be used for meetings. Technologies such as virtual meeting rooms that allow for easy drop in requests and visits could be used to facilitate impromptu collaboration and easy interaction with supervisors and colleagues. (Faculty & Staff #6)
- All faculty, staff, and students working on campus will be required to follow Public Safety and Institutional Assurance (PSIA) protocols, without exception, to protect the health of all. Supervisors will need to enforce the protocols consistently and equitably. (Risk Mitigation)
- There should be clear communication to all faculty, staff, and students about IU’s protocols for campus, and these protocols should be clearly visible in all classroom and office spaces. There should also be clear contact information available if cleaning supplies are missing or there are problems such as air circulation in a campus room or building. Faculty and staff should also be given guidance on recommended responses if students refuse to follow safety protocols. (Risk Mitigation/Facilities #1)
- IU and the campus should develop a coordinated communications strategy to provide consistent, timely information about safety protocols, instructional requirements, and resources.
Recommendations Regarding Staff
We used the following information to inform our recommendations:
- Survey results from HR Directors and/or HR representatives to assess remote work in 34 BL and UA units
- The Bloomington Professional Council (BPC). BPC’s professional staff survey, conducted April 29, 2020.
- Survey results from union representatives.
Three out of four units surveyed (75%) indicated that more than half their staff effectively perform at least 90% of their jobs remotely. Only a small percentage (9%) of the units that responded indicated large numbers of staff were completely unable to work remotely. Reasons include:
- The positions provide direct or face-to-face service to students.
- The positions are specifically designed for facility and/or customer in-person interactions (custodial work, cashier, guest-service care).
The positions require the use of equipment, labs, and/or resources that are only available on campus.
For those whose job duties can be performed remotely, many are thriving in the remote work environment. Others feel that they can be more productive while working on campus. Regardless, dependent care issues will make it challenging for staff to return to work, as well as for those who work remotely, particularly if schools and/or daycare facilities are closed. Responses showed that many employees still have serious concerns about returning to campus and that particularly those deemed “on campus essential employees” – although expressing loyalty to the university – are afraid of contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to their families.
Our recommendations are informed by these findings.
Key Recommendations Regarding Staff:
- Indiana University should continue to maximize remote work for staff whose jobs are suitable for such work, while allowing some degree of flexibility for those whose work requires an on-campus presence for either part of, or all of, a workday. Unit heads should permit sign-out of equipment to those individuals working remotely for extended periods of time. We suggest that PSIA, in collaboration with University Human Resources (and OVPGC where needed) provide guidance for such decisions. (Faculty & Staff #6)
- Rationale: Some staff are unable to work remotely due to the nature of their work and/or the lack of reliable internet or resources. Others need to be on campus in order to perform their work or to best meet their department’s or students’ needs. Allowing unit heads to devise a flexible work environment (including possibly staggered shifts) that is designed to meet university and department needs, in consultation with appropriate resources, should further public safety interests, such as social distancing, as well as contribute to morale.
- Departments should ensure that all staff performing on-campus work have physical spaces that comply with PSIA guidelines and any other relevant public safety requirements. (Risk Mitigation/Facilities)
- Rationale: Some units currently have staff assigned to workspaces where they are in close proximity to one another; others routinely move about our facilities and campus and many roles interface routinely with students and the public. As noted above, staggered work schedules, virtual work interactions, and other strategies may need to be considered. Those working on campus in essential function roles are particularly concerned about workspace issues.
- University HR, with appropriate guidance from other university departments, should create necessary training modules that anticipate problems supervisors will face. Employees may also benefit from additional support and should be reminded of IU’s Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) and other resources. (Mental Health)
- Rationale: Supervisors and employees alike will need assistance adjusting to the “new normal.” Training modules related to compliance should help increase necessary supervisory skills and help avoid litigation. EAP resources are likely to be needed now more than ever by IU employees. Healthy IU may also need to become even more involved to help manage and support staff who are going through difficult times. By providing these resources, we not only help supervisors to manage their teams and employees to work most effectively, but also ensure that consistent and appropriate practices can be followed campus wide.
Recommendations Regarding Instructional Faculty
These recommendations refer to instructional faculty, which include any faculty or students who are instructing IU students. Our taskforce focused primarily on instructional work under the assumption that remote and campus work for research activities is being addressed by other groups. However, many of the recommendations for remote and campus research work for staff would also apply to academic appointees doing research.
Instructional faculty, who worked hard to adapt quickly to revamped class instruction, experienced issues related to this rapid change, such as adapting to remote workspaces, adapting to caregiving responsibilities and lack of childcare and, at times, using more advanced learning technologies. At the same time, faculty, like staff, have many concerns about the safety of returning to face-to-face instruction for themselves and their families. The taskforce decided that, until more information was available about the campus safety protocols that will be in place, it would be premature to try to assess faculty comfort with face-to-face teaching. However, we have heard from numerous faculty who have significant concerns about face-to-face teaching, and we have taken seriously the implications of those concerns for faculty, for their departments and schools, and for their students in our recommendations.
Key Recommendations Regarding Instructional Faculty:
- Deans should identify unit needs for hybrid and face-to-face instruction and work closely with chairs or unit heads (when applicable) as they develop unit-specific plans for meeting those needs. Chairs/unit heads should then consult with faculty in developing unit-specific plans. Close dialogue between deans and chairs/unit heads will be needed so that chairs are aware of instructional targets and so that deans are aware of unit-specific resources and challenges. In turn, chair/unit heads are well-positioned to work closely with faculty to determine how best to match faculty and curricular needs. Chairs and deans should be mindful of power differentials to ensure that all instructors are treated equitably as teaching assignments are made.
- Rationale: Appropriate targets for face-to-face and hybrid instruction may vary across units and faculty and chair/unit head input will be critical for determining how units best meet those targets.
- Within the constraints of unit curricular needs and other instructional considerations for the unit and campus, allow instructors as much flexibility as possible in how they teach their courses.
- Rationale: Classes that move to a remote learning or online format should provide students some opportunity for live (but not necessarily face-to-face) interaction with instructors, but that interaction may take many forms. Offering flexibility will allow instructors to do their best work and students to receive the best possible instruction under the circumstances. Flexibility will also communicate the value of instructors to the institution and improve morale.
- Provide instructors, chairs, and deans with clear information on the process for instructors to request health accommodations. (Risk Mitigation/Faculty & Staff #7)
- Rationale: Wide knowledge of the campus-level process for reviewing accommodation requests will support decision-making and will ensure that faculty health information remains separate from personnel files and decisions.
- Conduct a campus survey of instructional faculty once safety protocols have been announced to learn more about instructor comfort with different models of instruction, instructor understanding of how the protocols apply to their courses, challenges instructors anticipate with those models, and resources that would support their instruction.
- Rationale: Providing effective support to instructors depends on an accurate understanding of preferences, and needs. This also provides faculty with an opportunity to express their views on various models of instruction.
- The campus, schools/College, and departments should consider policies and practices that acknowledge the additional work required to develop and teach online/remote courses, the significant challenges of delivering courses in multiple formats simultaneously, the special burdens presented by the COVID-19 crisis for those with caregiving responsibilities, and the long-term implications of those joint challenges for teaching and research careers.
- Rationale: Instructors report that preparing courses for remote learning took 2-3 times longer than preparing courses for face-to-face instruction. During the COVID-19 crisis, for many, these challenges are exacerbated by additional caregiving demands. The additional preparation time is challenging for faculty and threatens research progress. For faculty, policies and practices might include additional extensions to promotion clocks, reductions in new course preparations for spring 2021, and extra attention to competing demands when scheduling school and department meetings. For graduate instructors, this might include greater flexibility on graduate milestones and other requirements.
- Continue to direct faculty to the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and KeepTeachingIU as hubs for up-to-date resources on all types of instruction. These resources might include a summary or decision tree document guiding faculty to the most relevant resources.
- Rationale: Instructors will benefit from support while they are developing their fall courses and that support will improve instruction. A short list of those that are highly recommended would guide them to where to get started.
- Even in courses with face-to-face instruction, instructors should make course materials available to students who, owing to illness or other challenges, are not able to participate regularly in face-to-face sessions.
- Rationale: Some students may not be able to attend face-to-face classes due to quarantine, illness, caregiving responsibilities, or other restrictions. Having options for students to continue the course remotely will discourage class attendance if students are not feeling well.
Immediate Next Steps:
- Deans, chairs and unit heads should begin discussion with their faculty about curriculum, course delivery modalities, and faculty interest in teaching those modalities. We recommend that this dialogue begin at the unit level (department or school) to assess the degree of alignment between desired modality and deans will be important for clarifying any school/College expectations and working through misalignments.
- Deans and unit heads need clear information on where to direct any faculty questions or requests for health accommodations. Faculty also will need clear information on where to go with questions about or requests for health accommodations.
- We need to further assess the need for campus-level information about faculty resource needs, concerns, and understanding of protocols. The committee feels a campus survey of faculty may provide valuable information and allow faculty to share their views, but more clarity is needed about what information should be collected within departments/schools and what information is best gathered campus-wide, with particular consideration to the number of requests faculty receive for information.
- Immediate review of family leave, attendance, and sick leave policies for faculty and staff is needed in light of COVID-19. (Faculty & Staff #1-3).
Additional Recommendations Following Restart Committee Report
- To increase faculty and staff safety when interacting with large numbers of students, consistent messaging to students that masks and other hygiene and prevention measures are mandatory will be critical. Clear information on how compliance will be addressed will also increase faculty and staff confidence in risk mitigation measures. Additional protections, such as plexiglass barriers or face shields should be considered for staff in positions where they are likely to have frequent contact with those not wearing masks, such as gyms and pools.
- As we move to the next stage of planning, further attention should be given to some of the details of class meetings and any additional PPE options or technologies that might be available to faculty. For example, faculty will begin thinking concretely about lecturing to a class with a mask on. Will they have an option of a face shield in lieu of a mask if they feel that would allow more effective communication? Similarly, for contract tracing, faculty may be need to take in-person attendance more regularly than they have done previously. Are there technologies available that could make that easier and more accurate?
- Faculty & Staff Section of the Report #7 (p. 12) — clear information to faculty, staff, chairs/unit heads, and deans that any discussion of need for special accommodations for those vulnerable populations should be referred to IUHR, VPFAA, or Office of Institutional Equity. Guidance to chairs, deans and supervisors on where those questions should be directed will be sent out as soon as possible.