Dear fellow FFECC members:
In support of our members, who are experiencing unprecedented challenges, and rising to the occasion, FFECC leadership and SUNY Erie administration have had ongoing discussions regarding issues vital to our institution during the COVID crisis:
· how much access to campus should be allowed for faculty, staff and students
· which student services should remain on campus
· which employees should be considered essential and non-essential.
The dynamic situation we find ourselves in requires daily assessments, adjustments and problem-solving. The FFECC has consistently promoted reduced face-to-face interaction and increased opportunities to work from home during this pandemic for the purpose of health and safety, and in compliance with Governor Cuomo’s and County Executive Poloncarz’s directives to reduce community exposure.
After some contentious conversations, our exchange with administration successfully resulted in our counselors, librarians and tutoring staff being considered non-essential employees, for the health and safety of our students and members, with the ability to work remotely. Distance learning options are now available for all student support services.
Essential employees status is fluid and currently includes library clerks, computer techs, security and maintenance staff, as well as some student employees. Students are being told they have access to campus as well, although they are now restricted to one day a week per campus as of yesterday evening. Despite the “single point of entry,” which now includes a no-contact medical screening provided by medical and security staff, the danger of allowing any access to campus at this level does not sufficiently protect the community from spread of the virus. Recent data from this ‘single point of entry’ at each campus indicates that more faculty and staff have been accessing the college than students, thus supporting the FFECC position that our students are not seeking on-campus support services or library access in any significant numbers.
On-line tutoring and on-line availability of librarians to assist students is sufficient at this time to serve the majority of our students’ needs. We have lost students in this transition, for a variety of reasons that include lack of confidence with the new modality, lack of familiarity with the distance learning methods used by their instructors, lack of access to technology or Wi-Fi, and even personal crises such as a job loss, family illness or school-aged children at home full-time. Replacing our face-to-face interactions with various platforms and alternative modes of contact, we have reached out to our students, supported fully by our Distance Learning team.
Incompletes are currently being encouraged to assist our students who have challenges with not only the change in modality but also personal circumstances. This option may not work for many of our students, requiring that we collaborate creatively and positively as faculty and administration to locate innovative solutions to this problem.
Do not go to campus to work unless you are designated an “essential” employee and are required by your supervisor to report. If you need to get something from campus, contact your Chair or administrative supervisor first, get on the approved list, go in as briefly as possible and leave. The college is reducing hours and does not want groups congregating on campus.
FFECC encourages departments, units and programs to continue to
· meet through WebEx and work collaboratively to problem solve and best serve our students.
· access available tutorials for Blackboard and WebEx
· continue to give our students the support we pride ourselves on, recognizing the unusual and stressful nature of the current situation by revising our practices to better suit the new modality and unique student needs at this time.
Any further suggestions to assist in improving support of students, retention of students and effective teaching practices are welcomed and encouraged. Please forward these to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Thank you. Stay safe.
The FFECC leadership team:
Andrew Sako, President email@example.com 851-1026
Patricia Kaiser, VP City firstname.lastname@example.org 270-5639
Michael Kozlowski, VP North email@example.com 851-1537
James Ruggiero, VP South firstname.lastname@example.org 851-1770
Michael Delaney, Grievance Chair email@example.com 270-5332
Jacqui Bollinger, Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org 270-2981