Paul L. Caron

Monday, July 20, 2020

Blackman: What Happens When A Professor Is Unable To Finish Teaching A Class Due To COVID-19?

Josh Blackman (South Texas), What Happens When a Professor Is Unable to Finish Teaching a Class Due to COVID-19?:

As the saying goes, all professors are mortal. From time to time, faculties will deal with tragedy. Due to various health situations, a professor may be unable to finish a class as planned. Perhaps the situation will last a short time. For example, a professor needs a few weeks to recover from surgery. In such cases, colleagues can cover a few classes. Or, perhaps, the professor can pre-record lectures which the students can watch. Or, in more recent times, the professor can teach a class remotely from home. (Yes, Zoom existed before March 2020). Other situations are permanent. Professors may suddenly be forced to retire. Or Professors may pass away in the middle of a semester, perhaps with little advance notice. In such cases, colleagues will have to teach the remainder of the class–that includes preparing an exam, and grading it.

Over my career, these sorts of tragedies have been quite rare. But going forward, these occurrences may become more common. And these concerns are not limited to universities with in-person or hybrid classes. Even professors who are teaching strictly online classes may still be affected by COVID-19. Colleges need to recognize these eventualities, and establish continuity of operations plans in advance. Administrations should try to ensure minimal disruption in teaching and grading. This post will highlight four factors to consider. ...

Fourth, I raise an issue that should be promptly dismissed: some professors who are asked to cover a colleague's class may seek additional compensation. Get over it. We are living in tough times, and budgets are strapped. Sure, it is a burden and extra work. But  if a colleague becomes ill, or incapacitated, the least we can do is to chip in, and spread the work.

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


For sectioned courses, team teaching provides a solution, though it means less autonomy, more need for cooperation, and additional time in the classroom or online. Perhaps some sort of reduced version of that would work. Non-sectioned courses are a problem, especially if there is no one else on the faculty with the requisite expertise. Perhaps teaming up with someone at another school (to step in online or perhaps in person if close enough) or even with a practitioner offers some possibilities.

Posted by: James Edward Maule | Jul 20, 2020 1:04:42 PM