Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Online instruction considerations

MEMO

TO: Dr. James Henderson, President University of Louisiana System and Mr. Mark Romero, Chairman University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors

FROM: DeCuir, Clark & Adams, L.L.P. – Winston G. DeCuir, Sr.; Brandon DeCuir and Linda Law Clark

CC: Dr. Marcus Jones, Vice President University of Louisiana System

DATE: March 13, 2020

SUBJECT:  Items to be considered in the process of moving to online classes for the remainder of the semester

DeCuir, Clark & Adams has a list of considerations and items which may need attention in the process of moving the university from direct classroom teaching to delivery of online classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020 year.  The governor also issued a new proclamation today (March 13, 2020) regarding suspension of gatherings and closure of K-12 public schools.  The proclamation is attached hereunto and can also be found at:

https://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2403.

These items are suggestions which should be considered and attended to in the process of adjusting the school offerings to comply with the best practices in meeting the requirements brought about by the COVID-19 Health and Safety Emergency.  This list is not intended to be exhaustive but only an assembly of items that may require particular attention:

  1. Online classes must meet ADA Standards

Classes offered online must meet the ADA Standards for electronic delivery of services.  Your technology people should be aware of these standards and should make certain that each of the online offerings submitted meet the standard.

  1. Students should be advised that the online offering is not a change in course content or requirements but only a change in the manner of delivery.

The online course should indicate to students that the course has not changed and that the content and requirements of the course, as contained in the course description, will be delivered through online services.

  1. Clarify the status and delivery of such classes as, laboratory classes, studio classes and performance classes. The student should be assured that the classes can be adequately delivered on an online basis.
  2. Virtual learning still requires compliance with all policies i.e. sexual harassment, code of conduct, etc.
  3. Mental Health Component: work with school’s mental health professionals identifying issues of discrimination (global virus, not Chinese virus), increased anxiety and depression and continued access to counselors for student and staff.
  4. International students should be advised that if they go out of the country or to an area outside of the United States, due to travel restrictions, they may not be able to return.
  5. Employees on various work visas should be advised to check their immigration status to determine that leaving the campus or relocating to another city for the remainder of the semester does not violate their visa status. They should also be reminded that should they choose to leave the USA they may not be able to return.
  6. Determine and clarify how researchers will deal with caring for plants, experimental animals or other items which require daily maintenance.
  7. A time keeping system must be developed for hourly workers who are allowed to work at home or away from campus. FLSA requires accurate keeping of time in order to determine pay, overtime and leave time. (State Civil Service may provide guideline for this).
  8. If access to your campus is restricted, special provisions should be made to allow research, agriculture and other faculty and workers access to campus to attend to their projects.
  9. What, if any, will be the refund policy for those who move out of the dorm or withdraw from school. A policy or determination should be developed with regards to these items.  If certain residential halls are closed and if it is determined that any refunds are due on residential dorm or Board fees, bond counsel may need to be contacted to determine whether or not any notice is required to be given to the bond trustee or bond holders.
  10. Now that the universities are aware of the virus, we will have a heightened responsibility to keep facilities clean and disinfected. We are also responsible for making certain that employees are provided with adequate protection when performing their duties.
  11. Establish an emergency call list with phone numbers and email addresses from within the university and with local and State offices.

These are but a few of the things that each university should be mindful of when changing over its delivery of services from a classroom teaching to online teaching.  This list is not exhaustive.   If any assistance or further clarification is necessary please contact your Campus Head, System Office or the Counsel.

Updates