Eastman Weekly Special Edition

March 23-30, 2020

Message from the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

The last two weeks are unprecedented to anything we have experienced before. As a result of constantly shifting directives in response to the increasingly serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been displaced from our dorm rooms, apartments, studios, and offices. Today, as we officially begin the delivery of the final half of the semester online, we have questions about how (and if) the technology will function as intended. For some, both here and Rochester and all around the world. we have questions about access to instruments on which to practice. Among these and many other questions, we continue to strive to find the answers and solutions. It has been a stressful and anxious time.

It has also been two weeks in which the character of this community has shown brightly. I have witnessed staff members working nearly around the clock, answering every question asked of them, working through countless issues, and striving to keep us all safe. I have witnessed faculty members attending numerous technology training sessions in person and online to ensure they are prepared and ready to begin online learning, and others assisting one-on-one to mentor a colleague with less technology experience. Faculty members have been contacting students personally to check on their physical and emotional well-being, and standing in front of computer screens teaching lessons. And I have witnessed students moving out of their dorms and apartments—some of them donning commencement gowns and taking pictures in front of the school—and many saying goodbye long before they had planned to do so.

The coronavirus has disrupted almost everything we do, and it has driven us apart, geographically. Yet, in many ways, it has brought us even closer together as a community. I am so proud of the way our Eastman community has come together to face this challenge and inspired by the valiant efforts of so many. I am thinking of you all as we embark on a new frontier today, and am praying that we will find the good, and humor wherever possible, as well as positive experiences as we take this journey together.

My best to you all,

Jamal Rossi



Provost Clark sent an email yesterday indicating that the university successfully received clarification from New York State that faculty/instructors can conduct their on-line teaching from their offices if the technology available at home does not meet the need.  This is a very narrow window of availability. As Provost Clark wrote, “To be very clear however, only those faculty members and instructors for whom it is impossible to teach from home should plan to do so from their office and only for the duration of the course each day.  All preparation for course delivery should be done from home.
Given the survey conducted last week that was sent by Donna Brink Fox and John Hain, and the provisions made by the T&MP team, it is our understanding that all faculty members and graduate teaching assistants are now able to teach from their homes or remote locations.  As communicated on Friday evening, the Eastman facilities are now closed. Faculty and staff can access their offices should they need something to support their teaching, or if teaching from home is impossible. However, offices cannot be used for on-site work or practice. PLEASE NOTE: ALL access will be restricted to the 26 Gibbs Street entrance.


Policy on Notifying Students of Recording Synchronous Zoom Sessions

University counsel has issued guidance that instructors should notify students that synchronous Zoom sessions are being recorded using one or more of the following methods:
  1. Syllabus statement (sample: “Please note, all online classes will be recorded.”)
  2. Verbal statement at outset of first several class sessions
  3. One-time email to all students
***Please note that Zoom permits students to turn off their cameras and/or mute as needed.

Additional Information and Advice about Online Tools

  1. Always use the Panopto tool to load recordings and videos of any kind into Blackboard.  Embedding recordings directly into Blackboard itself destabilizes Blackboard.
  2. Zoom recordings stay with the main room when students are in breakout rooms.
  3. The default settings in Zoom allow students to chat privately with each other.  This is visible to the instructor in certain circumstances.  You can disable this feature in your Zoom settings and should warn students that you can see private chats if you do not disable it.
  4. Turning off UR VPN when teaching remotely can improve the stability of Zoom.  Zoom also allows computer video and telephone audio, a combination that might be useful if your students report that your audio quality is muddy.
  5. You can designate a co-host in Zoom to monitor the chat box, spot students using the “raised hand” feature, mute microphones, track time, and so on.  This is an excellent option for instructors with a TA who has stable internet and the ability to attend class.
  6. Please note specifically the new video tutorial on “What if there are issues with my live Zoom session?” as a resource.


The most recent information about logistical issues can be found on this page including all past communications from the Dean, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs which are on the Previous Updates below.
University of Rochester’s COVID-19 Website also contains many important and useful resources.