PSFA holds open forum for faculty, staff to discuss updates as SDSU goes virtual


Jeanette Giovanniello

PSFA Dean Peggy Shannon answered questions from faculty and staff on March 11 and March 12 pertaining to the decision for SDSU to go online-only.

In light of San Diego State moving classes to a virtual platform after this week, the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts held open forums with faculty and staff on March 11 and 12. 

PSFA Dean Peggy Shannon answered questions and discussed updates about the current coronavirus outbreak. She said the deans of every college have been charged with making the decisions specific to their school when responding to the pandemic. 

PSFA sent a survey to students to gather information about their access to internet and technology. 

Shannon said she hopes to have both the associate deans and directors of each department to answer any questions that faculty and staff may have. 

There are currently 34 instructional days that faculty and staff have to prepare for with this sudden change to moving to a virtual platform. Shannon laid down several guidelines in which those in PSFA need to follow:

  • All students have to receive a grade this semester.
  • All updated syllabi must be uploaded onto BlackBoard. Shannon also encouraged research materials and powerpoints to be uploaded. 
  • All events, meetings, performances that had a public audience now need to be closed to the general public — she said this does not mean these events are cancelled. 
  • After March 13 at 4:30 p.m., all instructional activities and events must be shifted to a virtual platform. 
  • There is to be no physical contact with students after March 13. 
  • Students are not to use on-campus labs, studios, practice spaces or classrooms after March 13. 
  • Students must be encouraged to meet for group assignments using a virtual platform.
  • No assignment shall be made that requires in-person meeting with students. 
  • Students will not be given mandatory assignments that require them to attend events, concerts, public galleries or any other public venues.
  • No events, instructionally related meetings, gatherings or performances will take place on or off campus, even without an audience.

Shannon said she is airing on the side of being overly cautious and not giving any group an exception to these rules. 

Faculty who do not have experience with teaching on virtual platforms are encouraged to pause their classes for the week of March 16 to adapt to the necessary programs.  To help the staff and faculty transition to a virtual platform, Instructional Technology Services has planned for six workshops. Associate Director of ITS Sean Hauze said these workshops help to provide an overview of the services available to them. They have also extended their hours to help those that may have questions.

ITS has currently set up a web page dedicated to the COVID-19 situation with guides to help with different platforms. 

Students who may not have access to a computer are able to check out laptops in the library. However, there is a limited number available. Hauze said the Chief Information Officer is currently looking into getting more for students.

The Adobe Aztec Alliance — which offers free Adobe Creative Cloud services to SDSU students — was supposed to take effect July 1, but Hauze said there have been talks about expediting this timeline.

Currently, the campus is not closing, Hauze said. The library will continue to be open unless something changes. This also includes campus housing and food services. 

Faculty and Staff are expected to come to campus and teach from their offices, using the virtual platforms at the day and time they’re required to be teaching, according to Shannon.  They are also required to be available online during their office hours.

Shannon guaranteed all PSFA student employees will be paid and working until the end of the semester, as long as they continue to come to campus. 

“There’s lots of work to be done, and I would like to make sure that students don’t feel any additional stress,” Shannon said. 

For students with unpaid internships, Shannon said deans have encouraged faculty to be “incredibly flexible” and consider giving students the academic credit if work cannot be done online. 

Shannon also encouraged the use of apps and said she has taught using phones before. She also said students who may not have access at all to their course should reach out to their professor so they can help remedy the situation.  

She said all international, non-essential domestic travel is suspended through the end of the semester, following recommendation from the California State University. Future travel is going to be determined as the outbreak continues. Shannon said she is going to be declining any travel including a large group, whether it has been paid for or not. 

For classes that involve meeting with students or with specialized equipment, Shannon said faculty and staff are going to have to “figure this out and it’s a new reality.” PSFA will compile a list of necessary equipment and software required for each department. If the college cannot provide it, they will work with faculty to find alternatives.

“The world has shifted, I really want you to hear this,” Shannon said. “Things as we understood them, how we teach, how we are as artists practice, how we train, how we develop. The world has shifted, the world has shifted right now.”

Shannon said she doesn’t know all the answers and will continue to update as she understands it. 

“It’s changing hourly, daily,” she said. “It’s just changing as we get our information.”