Existing and Ongoing COVID-Specific Concerns and How They Are Being Addressed
As we discussed above, we have sought to shape our work this year around the central principles of our 2020 Contingency Planning document which is designed to address existing and ongoing COVID-specific concerns. The COVID Impact Assessment Survey, listening sessions, and December 2020/January 2021 Needs Assessment Survey revealed several challenges associated with working within the pandemic environment.
In the area of teaching, the shift to a virtual environment, technical and space issues related to remote work and extreme energy and time demands on faculty and academic staff who wished to come to the personal and educational aid of their students (particularly international students, first time college students, and students experiencing intersecting levels of precarity). Demands were greatest on faculty with a 3-3 teaching load. Some have positive experiences having learned new ways of teaching that would have been otherwise undiscovered. Challenges in the areas of research/ creative work include professional travel and conference cancellations, postponement and/or cancellation of publishing opportunities, cessation of ability to do research (archive closure, human subject research stoppage, etc.), and museum, exhibition, and performance space closures. Some faculty experienced a surge in productivity related to pivoted projects, new grant opportunities, and new-found time dedicated to project work. Faculty and staff wellness were affected by work-life balance challenges related to remote work (including caregiving duties or long-term isolation), anxieties surrounding budget cuts and financial health, physical and mental health issues, extended family and friend crises, and the work challenges already mentioned above. Support staff experienced similar remote work challenges in addition to new COVID-19 related processes and uncertainties regarding staff furloughs, College staff restructuring, and faculty-staff or other communication failures. We are continuing to monitor the evolving impact of COVID-19 on the College as a whole and plan to conduct additional listening sessions in the Spring 2021 semester with the Dean.