Message from the Provost: Remote Teaching and Learning through Spring 2020

From the Provost
March 19, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff in Academic Affairs,

I want to start by expressing my deep gratitude for all you are doing to help all of us at Sonoma State navigate this extremely difficult – and frankly frightening – public health crisis.

COVID-19 is unprecedented in modern times. I know all of you are doing the very best you can to stay healthy, protect public health, and respond to an extremely dynamic situation. By this time, almost all of us are under shelter-in-place orders. Thank you for observing those orders and protecting our community.

I know that the shelter-in-place orders introduce an extremely stressful situation for everyone, and most particularly for people with children and other caregiving responsibilities. I know, too, that those in high-risk groups are living with real uncertainty and anxiety. Please know that faculty and staff who feel they need to take leave or seek an accommodation can contact the appropriate person (Renee Senander in Human Resources or Sally Russo in Faculty Affairs) as per our usual procedures.

Also, please see our Academic Affairs COVID-19 Site for more information, including a new Resources for Parents page.

The Faculty Center continues to provide workshops and support to help faculty transition to remote teaching and learning on March 24. As you saw from the President’s message, we now have planned for the entire semester to be delivered remotely.

Having a shelter-in-place order means that we are required by law to limit our movement around the county. Protecting the health and safety of our campus community must be our first priority.

We are recommending that faculty teach off-site asynchronously to enable more flexibility both for faculty and students. This also functions to limit people’s movement during this severe public health crisis. In asynchronous courses, faculty convey course materials and give assignments with a deadline and students are able to complete their work in their own time rather than at scheduled class times.

Deans will contact all faculty in their schools to delineate processes for returning to campus to pick up teaching materials on March 23-25 (Monday-Wednesday). A limited number of technology-assisted classrooms will be available for those who absolutely need classroom access to film lectures or conduct other activities. Given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that SSU will be required to severely limit access to buildings in the coming weeks. This is another reason that we strongly encourage faculty to engage in remote teaching off-site to the extent possible. Most of all, this will protect you and your family as COVID-19 continues to spread through the community. Instructions about how to proceed will follow soon from the deans.

We have a whole team of people working 24/7 to support this major shift in approach to education this semester. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Academic Programs, Faculty Affairs, Deans, Chairs, the Faculty Center, and faculty leadership with questions or concerns. And please feel free to reach out directly to me as we continue to find our way through this very difficult time.

I am deeply grateful to all of you for the compassion you bring to your work and to our students. I am proud to work with all of you at Sonoma State as I do believe we put empathy and integrity first, especially in challenging times.

With warm wishes and deep gratitude,


Lisa Vollendorf, Provost