Message from Dean Ginsberg

Colleagues:

I hope that you are remaining safe, healthy and well.

As I have been saying, “…extraordinary times require extraordinary efforts by extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.” I am proud to have extraordinary colleagues.

Thanks to everyone for ALL you are doing—and will do—as we support each other and assure the continued learning and development of our students.

As we transition to the “new reality” we all face, and continue the important “online lift” of our academic programs to an online format, it is very important that we remain connected, share information pertinent to developments at our university and continue support for each other during this complex time.

I will be communicating regularly with you. And, I promise that I will make every possible effort to share information that will keep you informed about issues pertinent to Mason’s plans, associated policies and practices and ways that we can continue to support each other and our students.

I write this message as a follow-up to Interim President Holton’s and Provost Wu’s March 16 messages, which I hope you already have read.

In addition, please open, read and carefully review ALL MESSAGES that come to you from the university as they will provide you with important information. Indeed, additional information will be forthcoming as the coronavirus crisis continues to be dynamic, fast moving and circumstances continue to be rapidly changing.

As was reported by Interim President Holton, in her message distributed on March 16, given recent guidance from the CDC and other public health agencies and health professionals, Mason has decided to extend the period of online instruction for ALL classes for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

In addition, as also was reported in the March 16 message, the university’s academic calendar has been revised slightly such that the spring 2020 semester will be extended by one week. Consequently, the summer 2020 class schedule will begin on June 1, a week later than originally had been planned. I strongly suggest that you review the message from Interim President Holton, as well as other university messages and websites, for specific changes in the dates for and schedule of the academic calendar for spring 2020 and summer 2020.

Also, I want to reinforce and underscore recent communications from Provost Wu that no coursework or class activities, including evaluative assignments, are to be due or take place prior to the March 23 restart of classes (in an online format) other than for the small number of our classes that had re-started on March 16.

Also, in terms of CEHD faculty communications with students I want to inform you about an important shift in the “funnel for communications” from what I communicated last Friday.

  • Effective immediately, rather than sending communications to me that you intend for your students, if your message to your students is specific to your class, course requirements or other matters pertinent to your role as an instructor for your course, please send the message directly to your students. It is no longer necessary, or required, that you send your DRAFT messages to me (and Meg Yoder and Jerome Boettcher) for review and approval prior to distribution.
  • Please consult, as is necessary and appropriate, with your Academic Program Coordinator and/or School Director or Division Director, and please keep them informed about any issues or problems that may arise.
  • If you include in your message to your students’ information regarding Mason’s policy or practices related to the coronavirus crisis, please cite university policy as it is/was provided by the university. That is, please refer students to the specific policies of the university, likely the Mason web page (gmu.edu/coronavirus). I do not want to “slow” communications, yet also I want to be certain that all messages are accurate and consistent and only include information that is/was provided by the university.
  • Please be sure that your message is consistent with your syllabus for your course.
  • I also remind you not to offer medical advice.
  • I strongly encourage you to be positive in the language of your message to your students and help to motivate them and provide support for them – this is a very difficult time for us all.

Preparations are continuing intensively across the university to transition all of our classes to an online format. As we all prepare for online instruction for all classes, I remind you that there are many resources that are available to you which are summarized in the message I sent to you on Friday. In addition, for guidance on instructional continuity, please refer to the March 13 and March 16 messages from Provost Wu.

Currently, Mason’s campuses remain open, yet this is a fluid situation as guidance from the CDC and other public health agencies continues to be refined. Libraries, computer labs, Mason operations and Mason administrative offices now remain open and fully functioning, although many administrative offices are functioning virtually.

I also want to share with you that Mason has decided, until further notice, that:

  • Students who are employed (full- or part-time) by Mason in teaching, research or administrative roles, or who are engaging in research or providing support for research as part of their studies, should NOT be required to work in university facilities, whether on- or off-campus.
  • Where possible, faculty and staff supervisors should make arrangements for students to work remotely.
  • If a faculty or staff supervisor believes it is essential that one or more students come to university facilities, whether for teaching, research, or administrative support purposes, they must request an exception from this university policy from the Office of the Dean (my office) upon the recommendation of their School or Division Director.
  • Requests for an exception to this university policy must state why: a)  it is essential that the student works on site, b) when the student is needed for on-site work, c) where the student’s work will be performed, d) working arrangements for the student including supervisor support and social distancing strategies implemented, and e) contact information for any student seeking and granted an exception to this policy.
  • Decisions on requests for exceptions ordinarily would be made within 24-48 hours of receipt. However, university policy is that, effective immediately, no undergraduate students, individuals under age 18 or external visitors will be permitted in Mason’s research labs or facilities.

Again, thanks to each of you for your many efforts during this unprecedented time. I am very appreciative and express to you my sincere gratitude.

All the best—stay safe, healthy and well.

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