Suspension of Classes due to COVID-19

March 16, 2020,

Dear MSCA Librarians and Faculty,

We understand your anxiety and concerns associated with the presidents’ decisions to extend spring break by one week, and in the case of Mass Maritime, to send the students homes for at least three weeks.  Each of the nine universities has suspended classes for one week; the particular week varies based on the university’s scheduled spring break.

These steps were prudent.  You know by now that yesterday the governor banned public gatherings of more than 25 people.

Although the MSCA was not consulted prior to the implementation of the presidents’ decisions (with the exception of Mass Maritime) we will be working with the universities to manage the effects of the decisions and the governor’s directive.  I have been told that the DHE will be scheduling telephone calls directly with the unions starting this week.

Members have expressed to us concerns about returning to face-to-face classes in a week or two, as was originally planned, and the likely spread of the virus as a result.  Returning to that mode of instruction in the near term seems highly unlikely at this point given the governor’s directive.  The presidents’ and our primary concern at this point is the health and safety of our student, members and our families.

Please realize that the situation is changing rapidly at nine different institutions, and that we cannot react, inform or advise on an instantaneous basis.  Many times we learn about updates after you do.  Conditions last Friday morning were not the same by Friday afternoon, and the understandings Friday changed over the weekend.

At this point it is our understanding that the universities will be assisting faculty with moving classes online or preparing for remote delivery.  Again, as far as we know, no faculty member will be required to teach online.  Remote delivery would mean lecturing from a classroom on campus that would be delivered (possibly streamed) to your students who would be off campus.  The remote delivery option should be available for you from your home if you have concerns about coming to campus.

We understand that there are numerous issues.  How will laboratories, clinical, studio and other modes of instruction be handled?  What will be done regarding student evaluations?  Will librarians be required to come to campus or will they be allowed to work remotely?

The MSCA is prepared to request impact negotiations if the need arises, but at this point we are trying to work within the four corners of the two collective bargaining agreements to the greatest extent possible.

Questions, concerns and issues should continue to be directed to your chapter presidents/chapter leadership.  A number of issues may be specific to your university and the fastest, most efficient way to get a response will likely be from your chapter president.  They will be in touch as needed with the statewide MSCA.

CJ O’Donnell
MSCA President