FAQ: Summer teaching

Dear colleagues,

YUFA has prepared a second Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) document; this one addresses teaching in the Summer 2020 semester.

This document was last updated on April 6, 2020.

1) Where can I get the latest updates?

Information about the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change rapidly. We encourage YUFA members to check these websites frequently, as updates are posted regularly.

Health resources

York University

YUFA

CAUT

2) Why is the University moving the Summer 2020 semester online?

The University has decided to move the Summer 2020 semester online in response to the current public health measures that require or encourage physical distancing and that strictly limit in-person gatherings of more than five people, and to allow students to continue progressing in their programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the University’s March 24, 2020 update about the Summer 2020 semester here.

All universities and colleges in Canada have now moved to online or remote delivery formats.

3) Is there any possibility in-person teaching could resume before August 31, 2020?

No, the entire Summer 2020 semester will proceed in its current online or remote delivery format.

Even if the current public health measures were to change, or physical distancing were no longer required or encouraged, the semester will proceed in its online form in order to minimize any further disruptions. In other words, colleagues would not have to change—yet again—the formats of their courses, once teaching begins in the Summer 2020 semester.

While we cannot predict how long the current public health measures will remain in place, it is likely they will last for months, not weeks. For example, the City of Toronto has cancelled all mass events and meetings until June 30, 2020, including mass participation events, festivals, conferences, cultural programs, and all related permits.

The City of Toronto has also announced a 12-week plan that includes stronger measures to combat COVID-19. Those measures will remain in effect until June 30 and may be extended beyond that date.

4) What do I need to know about completing the Winter 2020 semester?

Information about completing the Winter 2020 semester is available on York’s dedicated COVID-19 website.

Resources about moving to online or remote delivery format are available at the Course Continuity page on the York University Teaching Commons website.

In addition, information regarding course completion—completion plans, course directors, timelines, online formats, interim grades, exam cancellations, and accommodations for students—is available in this YUFA FAQ (updated on March 24, 2020).

As of Friday, March 20, 2020, course directors should have indicated how they will make course materials available and complete course activities.

As of Friday, March 27, 2020, course directors should have indicated any adjustments to evaluation and grading schemes.

Members who require any support whatsoever, including for any exams they plan on conducting, should email their Dean’s Office or Principal’s Office.

Again, members should keep in mind that their course completion plans are at their discretion, based on their own academic judgment. Courses do not have to be completed online, unless members choose this option—just as long as completion is not in-person or face-to-face.

5) What if I am scheduled to teach in Summer 2020?

(a) Do I have the option of declining to teach, in light of the new circumstances?

Members who are scheduled to teach in the Summer 2020 semester will generally be expected to teach their assigned courses, but in online or remote delivery format.

Discussions about academic program planning should now be underway between members and their Dean/Principal about whether members who are scheduled to teach in the Summer 2020 semester will be able to do so and about what kind of supports they would need.

The University aims to inform students by no later than April 17, 2020 about the final suite of course offerings in the Summer 2020 semester.

The University has announced that the SU and S1 semester will begin one week late, on May 11, 2020. The S2 semester will begin on June 29, 2020. The delay is meant to give course directors more time to prepare their courses for online or remote delivery format.

(b) If I decline to teach in Summer 2020, would I owe my courses later?

Yes, if members are unable to teach their assigned courses in the Summer 2020 semester, those courses will not be counted towards their teaching load and members will owe the courses.

(c) What kind of support is available to move my courses online?

According to the York University Community Update #20

The Teaching Commons is partnering with Learning Technology Services (LTS), University Information Technology (UIT) and the Faculties to develop a new website section that will feature resources to assist instructors with pedagogical and technological aspects of transitioning summer term courses for a remote teaching and e-learning environment. There also will be access to individual support services. Resources will be available in early April.

Resources about moving to online or remote delivery format are also available at the Course Continuity page on the York University Teaching Commons website. The Teaching Commons is providing support at its Virtual Help Desk, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., where members may seek advice on adapting courses for online or remote delivery.

The Teaching Commons is also conducting a variety of workshops and has provided other online resources, which members may consult on their own time.

Members who require any support whatsoever should email their Dean’s Office or Principal’s Office.

(d) How can I manage the increased workload associated with putting a course online?

YUFA continues to raise this issue with the Employer and has recently proposed that the University could provide course release to colleagues with significant online teaching experience in order to enlist them to act as collegial mentors/supports to colleagues with less online teaching experience.

YUFA has also proposed that the University consider lower enrolment caps for some courses.

Similarly, YUFA has raised with the Employer the increased workload for Course Coordinators and Appendix P positions.

The Employer has yet to respond to any of these proposals or concerns or to make any of its own. YUFA will continue to track members’ concerns about workload and to press the Employer to develop meaningful solutions as soon as possible.

In the meantime, YUFA suggests that members facing workload issues first speak to their Chair or Dean about what kind of arrangements might make their workload more manageable. If you are unable to do so, or are not getting adequate adjustments or accommodations, please email yufa@yorku.ca.

(e) How do I access York University Libraries resources for summer teaching?

Information about how to access library collections is available here.

More information about library services in general is available here.

(f) What is YUFA’s advice for members in this situation?

Members must decide for themselves what works best for them in this situation. In response to any challenges they face in making the transition to online or remote delivery format, they should not hesitate to consult their Chairs and/or Dean/Principal for advice and support.

6) What if I am not scheduled to teach in Summer 2020?

(a) Could I offer to teach courses in Summer 2020, even if I am not scheduled to teach?

If you are not assigned courses for the Summer 2020 semester, but are now available to teach, understanding that the semester will be fully online/remote, please contact your Dean’s Office/Principal’s Office to indicate your availability and willingness to teach.

Your Dean’s Office/Principal’s Office may have already engaged members of your Faculty about their availability to teach online/remotely in the Summer 2020 semester, even if they have not been assigned courses.

Members who are not already assigned courses for the Summer 2020 semester may decline any request by their Deans/Principal to do so.

(b) If I end up teaching in Summer 2020, how would it affect my teaching load?

Your teaching load would be adjusted accordingly, so that you get credit for any additional teaching you agree to do.

Members should discuss with their Dean/Principal how their teaching load would be adjusted: if members end up teaching above their normal teaching load, they would be paid on overload; if members accept teaching assignments for the Summer 2020 semester, but prefer to maintain their assigned teaching load for the current academic year, they would need release from other courses they have been assigned in the Fall 2020 and/or the Winter 2021 semesters or agreement from their Dean/Principal that the additional courses could be banked.

(c) What kind of support is available to teach in Summer 2020, if I accept teaching assignments on short notice?

Please see items #4 and #5 (c) above.

(d) What is YUFA’s advice for members in this situation?

Again, members must decide for themselves what works best for them in this situation. If their Dean/Principal asks them to teach in the Summer 2020 semester, and they have not already been assigned courses, they may decline the request.

However, the Deans’ Offices/Principal Office may welcome any offer to teach online/remotely on short notice by members who are not assigned courses in the Summer 2020 semester.

7) How does the move to online teaching affect copyright, with respect to my teaching methods and materials?

The same copyright and Intellectual Property (IP) provisions that normally protect members remain in effect, including Article 23 (“Patents and Copyright”) of the YUFA Collective Agreement. As such, they would apply to anything you post to an online University platform, such as Moodle.

If you post any recordings, for example, the University would require your permission to use them again.

Members might also consider, as an additional measure, including a version of this sample disclaimer in any course materials in online or remote delivery format: 

These materials, including any recorded lectures or presentations, are the exclusive copyright of Prof. __________ and may only be used by students enrolled in [Course code and title] in the Summer 2020 semester at York University, Toronto, Canada. Unauthorized or commercial use of these materials is expressly prohibited.

YUFA would like members to know that we continue to track your concerns about Intellectual Property (IP) rights, copyright, security, and academic freedom in online environments, and we thank you for drawing them to our attention. We have asked the Employer to provide clear information about best practices and about what technologies are available to best manage courses.

8) How does the move to online teaching affect my existing workplace-based accommodations?

As indicated in this YUFA FAQ, members who already have accommodations, including anything described in a Workplace Accommodation Plan (WAP), should still be able to rely on them—unless they are no longer required when members are working remotely.

If the University’s shift in operations has affected your accommodations, please contact the Employee Well-being Office.

9) What if I require new accommodations in order to conduct online teaching?

As indicated in this YUFA FAQ, members who require health-related or disability-related accommodations should contact the Employee Well-being Office.

The implementation of new accommodations, in response to the University’s shift in operations, may take longer than usual. The Employer has indicated that all accommodation requests will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and as expeditiously as possible.

YUFA has emphasized to the Employer the need for flexibility and understanding in responding to members’ requests for accommodation, especially given the challenges of securing medical documentation at this time.

If you need assistance securing adequate accommodations, please email yufa@yorku.ca.

All other requests for support (see #5 in the YUFA FAQ), including any issues related to family status, should be made to your Dean’s Office or Principal’s Office.

10) I have childcare and elder care responsibilities that make it impossible for me to work from home. What kind of accommodations are available for me?

In the current circumstances, YUFA believes the Employer has a duty to accommodate members who cannot meet their full professional obligations and responsibilities as a result of childcare and/or elder care responsibilities.

Indeed, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has indicated in this March 13, 2020 update that the closure of schools and childcare centres triggers an Employer’s duty to accommodate on the basis of family status. However, it is unclear what such an accommodation could entail.

If you require accommodation as result of family status, you should contact your Dean’s Office or Principal’s Office.

Members who are facing extraordinary childcare and/or elder care responsibilities may request paid leave of up to one month under Article 19.02 of the YUFA Collective Agreement. If you require such a leave, you must make the request in writing to your Dean/Principal.

If you need assistance securing adequate accommodations, or have any questions about leaves, please email yufa@yorku.ca.

11) I need a computer to conduct online teaching. Are more laptops available to borrow from the University?

The University recently indicated in this March 19, 2020 update that it had “secured 1,500 laptops for students, faculty and staff who don’t have a home computer to learn, teach or work remotely.”

YUFA understands that some laptops are still available. To request a laptop, please email your Dean’s Office/Principal’s Office.

12) Is it possible to access any buildings on campus?

Most building on campus are now closed. Access to buildings that remain open is restricted.

As of March 27, 2020, the University has moved into its second stage of the process of moving to required services only. Only those who have requested and secured access to campus will be allowed to attend on campus.

YUFA has also learned that the University will be making arrangements to provide limited access to faculty members who need access to their offices for the purposes of teaching during the Summer 2020 semester. Faculty members who require building access must complete a form to indicate their need for it. To request a form, or to make further inquiries about building access, please contact your Dean’s Office/Principal’s Office. 

For more information about the University’s required services, please visit this page.

13) My current sabbatical leave is scheduled to end on June 30, 2020, but has been disrupted/delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it possible to extend my sabbatical leave to make up for the disruption/delay?

The Employer is aware of the disruption/delay that members currently on sabbatical leave are likely experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If members must make modifications to their original sabbatical plans in order to complete them, they should simply make them and note the modifications in their sabbatical reports. 

Members who have found that restrictions associated with COVID-19 have made it impossible to make use of their sabbatical and to conduct the work they had originally planned should contact their Dean’s Office/Principal’s Office to request to defer their sabbatical.

The Employer has indicated that it will be difficult to consider such requests, but that it may consider exceptional reasons where a faculty member can demonstrate that the current circumstances rendered it impossible to conduct work that was critical to the sabbatical.

Faculty members who are in this situation, but are unable to make suitable arrangements with their Dean/Principal, should contact YUFA at yufa@yorku.ca.

14) My next sabbatical leave is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2020, but my research and related travel plans have been disrupted/delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it possible to pause/re-schedule my sabbatical leave until I can conduct my research and travel as originally planned?

The Employer has indicated that it expects members who are scheduled to begin their sabbatical leaves on July 1, 2020 to do so, either according to their original sabbatical plans or with modifications.

If members are unable to conduct their original sabbatical plans, even with the necessary modifications, they should contact their Dean’s Office/Principal’s Office, by no later than May 1, 2020, to request completing their sabbaticals at a later date.

For librarian and archivist colleagues, written requests should be submitted two months before the start of the sabbatical leave or as soon as possible, and no later than April 20, 2020 for sabbaticals starting prior to July 1, 2020.

The Employer has indicated that requests to delay a sabbatical leave will be reviewed and considered on a case-by-case basis. Factors considered will include the specific reasons impeding the ability of the sabbatical leave to proceed and the feasibility of conducting the originally planned sabbatical work. In regard to the latter, colleagues requesting a delay should also explain why it would not be possible for the sabbatical to proceed with modifications to the original plan.

Faculty members who are in this situation, but are unable to make suitable arrangements with their Dean/Principal, should contact YUFA at yufa@yorku.ca.

15) My next sabbatical leave should normally begin on July 1, 2021, but I missed the April 1, 2020 deadline to submit my request and statement of planned program of sabbatical activities.

The Employer has extended the April 1, 2020 deadline to June 1, 2020.

For librarian and archivist colleagues, the deadline will be extended by two months from April 1, 2020 until June 1, 2020 for sabbaticals beginning April 1, 2021, and from May 1, 2020 until July 1, 2020 for sabbaticals starting May 1, 2021.

16) How will research disruptions/delays affect funding deadlines and criteria? Are extensions possible? Is there an update from the Tri-Council Agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC)?

The Tri-Council Agencies have advised that costs associated with cancelling, postponing, or changing travel or events paid through Agency funds will be considered as allowable project expenses, provided they align with agency policies.

Both NSERC and SSHRC have communicated that “academic institutions can immediately approve extension requests up to 12 months for Agency grants with an end date between February 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 inclusively.”

As a result, Research Accounting is now extending NSERC and SSHRC awards ending between February 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020 by an additional 12 months. At a later point, Research Accounting will extend those awards that end between April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, as applicable.

Researchers are not required to complete the grant amendment form; nor do they need to contact the Agencies directly to request approval for the end-date extensions.

For those Principal Investigators who already have an extension cost centre (i.e., the Tri-Council grant expired and York provided an extension), the 12-month extension will also apply and Research Accounting will extend the cost centres accordingly.

For questions regarding non-Tri-Council grants or contracts, faculty members should contact Research Accounting or the Innovation York Agreements Team, who will contact funders to request extensions.

For more information about NSERC program information in relation to COVID-19, please click here.

For more information about COVID-19’s impact of SSHRC policies and programs, please click here.

We expect that more information regarding CIHR will be posted soon. Please click here for updates.

17) How can I make purchases on my Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER)? Will spending limits be waived? Can Sm@rtBuy purchases be sent to my home instead of York?

York has advised us that faculty members are still encouraged to use vendors of record (VOR) through University procurement methods, such as Sm@rtBuy/PCard and can select home delivery of materials.

Faculty members who do not have a PCard can pay for it personally and submit a claim for reimbursement. Claims for purchases over $1,500 will not be sent back, but other procurement rules and reimbursement guidelines will continue to apply.

Further questions about expense reimbursement should be directed to Research Accounting.

18) What is happening to tenure-and-promotion timelines?

For tenure-and-promotion files that are already in process, there may be some delays, but reviewing bodies are otherwise trying to proceed as they normally would. Priority is being given to tenure files, however. Where candidates are granted tenure and/or promotion, their files will be appropriately back-dated.

For tenure-and-promotion files that are currently being prepared, there may be some delays, but File Preparation Committees (FPC) are otherwise trying to proceed as they normally would. Candidates should note that, at their discretion, course evaluations for this year need not be included in their files. If candidates have not yet had their in-class collegial evaluations completed, they should speak with their FPC about scheduling these as soon as is practical, based on their scheduled teaching.

All candidates (pre-tenure and tenured) should also note that, for any accepted conferences that have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they should still include them on their C.V.s, but indicate they were postponed or cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

For colleagues who use APA Style on their C.V.s, please see this post about how to reference postponed or cancelled conferences and other academic events.

(The APA Style website is also providing free access to its publication manual and other resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Pre-tenure candidates have the option a one-year stop-out from their normal tenure-and-promotion timelines. Requests for stop-outs should be submitted to your Dean/Principal. Work completed during the stop-out period may be included in the file, at the candidate’s discretion.

Tenure-and-promotion candidates also have the option of excluding from their files any students course evaluations from the Winter 2020 semester, including for year-long courses that began in the Fall 2019 semester.

It is YUFA’s understanding that candidates will have the same option regarding student course evaluations in the Summer 2020 semester.

YUFA continues to press the Employer to recognize the harm to members’ research that the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused. YUFA will provide an update on this matter as soon as one is available.

19) What about student course evaluations?

As indicated above, candidates may elect to exclude student course evaluations from the Winter 2020 semester, including for year-long courses that began in the Fall 2019 semester, from their files. This applies to advancement and promotion files, as well as tenure files.

Candidates may also elect to exclude student course evaluations from the Summer 2020 semester.

20) I am a Post Doctoral Visitor. Do I have to sign a work from home agreement?

No, you do not.

Some Post Doctoral Visitors were asked to sign work from home agreements, but this is not a requirement of your position. YUFA advises that you do not sign such an agreement. YUFA raised the issue with the Employer and it has retracted that request.

If you have any questions or concerns, or are still being asked to sign such an agreement, please email yufa@yorku.ca.

22) My letter of appointment included a deadline to complete my Ph.D. Will this date be extended?

The Employer has agreed to a blanket extension of 12 months (one year) for the deadline for the completion of doctorates for colleagues who were hired between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 and whose appointment is conditional on the completion of a Ph.D.

New hires effective July 1, 2020 whose appointment is conditional on the completion of a Ph.D. will also have a 12-month (one-year) extension beyond the stipulated completion deadline to complete their Ph.D.

22) How long will these measures last? Is there a chance they will continue into the Fall 2020 semester?

As indicated above, the move to online and/or remote delivery of teaching will last until at least August 31, 2020.

YUFA is in frequent discussion with the Employer about the rapidly changing situation and has requested that the Employer provide clear and timely updates.

A decision about the Fall 2020 semester is not likely to take place until we know about the general public health situation in Ontario, Canada, and the rest of the world and how much longer the current public health measures will be required.

23) What if I need YUFA representation or support?

In the interest of our own health and that of all our members, YUFA is conducting all of its business via ZOOM, email, and/or telephone.

YUFA has also taken the preventative measures of closing the YUFA office, as of March 13, and of having YUFA staff members work from home. While these measures are in place, YUFA staff will continue to represent and support YUFA members and otherwise conduct the normal business of the Association. As always, all telephone and email queries will be handled as quickly as possible.

If you require representation or support, or have any questions, please email yufa@yorku.ca. Queries by email are preferred and will be processed more quickly than by telephone.

24) Have we missed anything?

Please send your questions to yufa@yorku.ca. We will be adding more information to this document as it becomes available.

Thank you for your patience and support at this time.