College of Liberal Arts

COVID-19 Updates and FAQ

A photo of the Patton Hall Building.

As the University continues to respond to the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, we have created this page to answer faculty and staff questions specific to the College of Liberal Arts. Please check this page often, as it will be continually updated as new information becomes available. 

Please direct questions to chairs, directors and other senior staff, who in turn will submit them to a virtual suggestion box in the Dean’s Office. Dean Stevens and members of her leadership team will respond to questions on a daily basis.

For the most up-to-date information, visit the University's COVID-19 updates page. Many issues surrounding COVID-19 are best addressed there. There are also a variety of other pages that you may find valuable:


For specific advice on moving your liberal arts course online, see the LAITS Faculty Course Guide.

How will course evaluations and expectations be addressed?

Faculty members are being asked to deliver courses remotely on short notice and there will be glitches and frustrations along the way. No one expects that teaching under these conditions will go perfectly or even smoothly; this is an emergency. We are simply asking faculty to continue to do their best for students under the circumstances. We are also asking students to prepare for the new delivery methods (Zoom, etc.) and to exhibit patience as we all adjust to the new system. Posted 3/23/20

How will the COVID-19 response affect grading policies? 

Policy on grading is being developed by campus leadership, in consultation with deans and faculty council. Shared governance means that faculty council must be a major driver of this policy and they are currently engaged in a deliberative process to finalize this decision. We anticipate a policy that significantly relaxes restrictions on P/F or C/NC grading, though we cannot predict the exact form it will take. Similarly, College policies around time to degree for graduate students will be relaxed as needed or requested. Posted 3/23/20

Can doctoral students use video streaming such as Zoom to conduct their defense?

UT’s Graduate School has distributed information to graduate coordinators in each department about flexibility in conducting defenses virtually, and the Dean’s Office has shared that same information with department chairs. Posted 3/23/20

Can student graders continue to work for faculty if they are no longer in the country? 

Students can engage in instructional duties from their home countries with careful consideration given to the health of their families and themselves and their ability to contribute to our educational mission. Departments should work with students to come up with a plan that ensures a department’s instructional mission is maintained. Posted 3/23/20

How is the Promotion & Tenure process affected by the COVID-19 situation?

Given the situation with family care and other aspects of the current crisis, there will be a process to grant extensions on the promotion and tenure clock for any of you who need and request them, as previously announced. The Provost’s Office will announce the details of how to make these requests, or if there will be a blanket policy (with an opt-out option). A number of faculty have expressed that they do not wish to delay their promotion decisions and we will certainly allow cases to go ahead as scheduled if desired. Posted 3/23/20

I would prefer my students to participate in my class on Zoom at the regular class time, do I have to record the session to be available later?

While not strictly required, we very strongly encourage anyone conducting class via a zoom session(or other methods) to record the session so that students can view it later.  We have no way of predicting how internet bandwidth, students’ personal wi-fi connections, or zoom itself will hold up over the coming weeks. It is also possible that, as time goes on, more students will themselves be ill or will be caring for others, and so we need to make classes as accessible as possible.  We understand that you may want to strongly encourage synchronous participation for certain classes and support that approach, but recording the sessions will help guarantee accessibility to the material in unforeseen circumstances. Posted 3/23/20

As faculty transition to online instruction, will their lecture materials still be protected as intellectual property?

Although our method of teaching is changing, a faculty member’s intellectual property rights remain the same. All educational materials produced by faculty (both tenure- and non-tenure-track) are owned by the faculty author. The university retains the right to use these materials if a faculty member leaves the university for one year; beyond that the university must get a faculty member’s permission if the institution intends to sell it to students or other parties. Posted 3/23/20

Do junior faculty members still need to be observed this semester?

Please continue to conduct peer observations of junior faculty if at all possible. While we recognize that this semester will have a prominent asterisk next to it for all evaluation purposes, it remains important to provide faculty with feedback on their teaching. You may want to wait until a week or two of online teaching has occurred so that some of the adjustment difficulties have been worked out. Posted 3/31/20


If I am working remotely and have unexpected childcare or health need, how should I respond?

If an employee should need to suspend their work functions during this uncertain time, please communicate individual needs to your direct supervisor. Contingency plans and schedules will be arranged. Posted 3/23/20

Are childcare services available to faculty and staff?

We understand how difficult it will be for faculty and staff to work remotely as most schools and daycare centers close. The truth, however, is that we do not have many options to provide alternative childcare. Most efforts at this point, nationally, locally and within the University community, are focused on providing backup childcare to allow front line health care workers to continue working. Posted 3/23/20 

Will I be paid if I do not have childcare available?

Many UT staff and faculty, along with individuals and families nationwide, will find themselves in very difficult positions balancing work and family care in the coming weeks.  We continue to urge all supervisors to provide maximal flexibility to staff in terms of work schedules and assignments. President Fenves has noted that he is "pursuing all options to preserve your compensation regardless of your work status."  In the College of Liberal Arts, we are required to follow campus HR policies and will update you as these are revised and announced.  As a public institution, we also must follow the guidance and policies of the state of Texas. Posted 3/23/20

What if I leave something on campus that I need later?

Workplaces are still accessible if you need to retrieve personal items or items related to your job. Make sure to bring your UT ID with you, as you may need it to enter the building. Please use social distancing procedures while on campus. Posted 3/23/20 

Does sick leave require a doctor’s note?

You do not need a doctor’s note for sick leave and can take emergency leave if you are required to self-isolate and cannot work. Posted 3/23/20 

What should I do if I become ill?

Please communicate this to your supervisor, so they can take steps to ensure critical tasks are covered. The latest health resources and information are available on the Healthy Horns websitePosted 3/23/20

Does COLA or UT have a list of best practice recommendations regarding availability of staff and instructors via email during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)?

Due to the unprecedented nature of the situation, supervisors should form their own judgments about what does or doesn’t need to happen and be flexible outside the normal hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Staff should not be expected to be available outside of normal hours UNLESS it is mutually agreed and allows them needed flexibility. Posted 3/24/20

How quickly should faculty and staff reply to messages and requests (e.g. within 24 hours)? How often should they check their email, and are they expected to share their private mobile and landline numbers with other members of their units?

One of the biggest challenges this past week has been online communication. We are asking managers to be creative and as flexible as possible in reviewing a variety of tasks considered for remote work (e.g. checking emails, administrative functions, answering department phones, arranging virtual meetings, etc.). Managers should clearly communicate expectations and work with staff to develop mutually agreed-upon practices.

Staff members and instructors have three options if they do not want to share their private mobile and landline numbers, however we strongly encourage departments to have a phone tree. Please visit these Wiki sites for more information regarding voice mail, forwarding voice mail to a cell phone, and forwarding calls to voice mail. Posted 3/24/20