Faculty Information

As the fires, evacuations, and power outages impact the delivery of coursework and faculty work, we provide some information about how to address concerns about these situations with students. We anticipate evacuations, air quality issues, and power outages may continue to occur over the next few days, and perhaps throughout the fall semester. All of these factors may be disruptive to the continuity of in-person, synchronous, and asynchronous courses. We recognize that when evacuations occur or when power is shut down at your home, you or our students may not be able to access the internet and computer equipment necessary to participate successfully in our courses. 

Please read the following information about how to prepare for and cope with possible evacuations and power outages:

What should faculty do to prepare for disruptions to instruction:

  • You are asked to prepare for occasional rolling power outages of up to 4 hours and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) of up to 72 hours, and evacuations may last for several days or longer, depending on the damage. These situations may require advanced planning of course material.

  • It is expected that synchronous classes will include reasonable accommodations, allowing students to adapt their schedules to overcome challenges evacuations or outages bring. Given the nature of asynchronous courses, it is possible that these courses already incorporate necessary flexibility to accommodate disruptions.

  • Be sure to communicate clearly to your students your plans for dealing with evacuations and power outages in the context of the course. Remember that these disruptions may happen to you and your students.

  • Make a plan ahead of time for how to deal with evacuations and power outages in general, and then follow up in case of a specific event.

How should faculty with synchronous class meetings, assignments, or exams respond to possible evacuations or outages?

  • If an evacuation or power outage affects your class meeting, re-schedule or reconfigure affected synchronous class meetings, assignments or exams.

  • Record all synchronous class sessions and make them available to students who are not able to attend due to evacuations or power outages. (Even if you have power or are working from home, your students  may be in a different situation.) Remember that you need to inform students that you are recording class sessions before you start doing so. 

  • You may ask students to notify you if they evacuate or have a power outage so that you can be sure that make-up work is available to them. But please do not ask them to prove they had to evacuate or that their power was out.

  • You may want to require students complete a small assignment -- e.g., a lecture quiz or a small assignment duplicating a task done in class. Remember, evacuations and power outages are stressful so try not to overload students with new work.

  • Advise students what to do if YOU are not able to attend class due to an evacuation or power outage or if power goes out suddenly in the middle of class. For example: 

    • have them watch for an email from you with instructions.

    • have them continue with asynchronous parts of the course if appropriate.

What about online assignments and asynchronous courses?

  • Be aware that students may not be able to access materials or submit work if their power goes out, if they have to leave home, or if the Canvas server goes down.

  • Make course materials (reading and assignments) easily available for students to download.

  • Encourage students to download materials ahead of time so that they can access them even if the wi-fi is out.

  • Encourage students to communicate with you about the disruptions they face.

  • Be flexible about deadlines when rolling blackouts or evacuations are taking place.

    • Rolling blackouts are unscheduled and usually of fairly short duration, so you might only need to add a day to the deadline.

    • People may be asked to evacuate suddenly, so accommodate such events with changes to deadlines. It may take several days for a student to have reliable access to the internet again.

    • Public SPS outages are of longer duration, but power companies are usually able to provide warnings. Encourage students to be aware of these outages and submit work early if possible. But be aware that they may need a few days to regain power and be able to access and submit work.

  • Consider the impact of disruptions  on assignments with tight turnaround times for students. Will these assignments work if they coincide with a power outage, for example? Flexibility of deadlines and in assignment design is key. 

Can the university provide me with space and equipment to run my class if the power is out or if I am displaced by evacuation?

Due to the current pandemic, University spaces are limited. While we cannot replace your home working environment, we can provide “one-time” working spaces. Faculty and staff whose home working environments are impacted by evacuations or power outages for an extended period, may request on-campus space in which to carry out their lectures, course delivery, and work requirements. These requests can be made through the same processes currently available at Access to Campus | Covid-19 Information at Sonoma State University.  In alignment with the recently released guidance from the state (COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education), the use of on campus spaces are only available for essential purposes.  If you do not have power in your home working environment or in an evacuation site  for more than 24 hours, please complete the request form and we will accommodate requests as space permits. If you are an instructor who learns of an impending power outage and requires immediate accommodation for a synchronous course, please complete the request form and send an alert to your dean. 

General considerations:

  • Don’t panic. Be safe. Take care of  yourself and your family. 

  • Consider utilizing our Employee Assistance Program which is a benefit to support our faculty, staff and their families during times such as these.  More information can be found on the Payroll and Benefits website.

  • Be aware that fires, evacuations, and power outages will affect some members of the community and not others. You may not know who in your class has been impacted and who has not.

  • Plan ahead where possible

    • Keep your computer/device(s) charged.

    • Avoid waiting until the last minute to complete or post assignments or course materials work . If the power is out or you need to evacuate, you might not be able to access the internet to post assignments. 

    • Download course preparation materials, assignments to be graded, and other work so you are able to instruct if internet access is unavailable. 

    • Have a plan for what will happen if power or evacuations affect your courses

  •  When in doubt, please remember to communicate with your students, colleagues, department chairs, or deans.