COVID-19 Faculty Survey results inform plans for academic year 2020-2021

Nassau, THE BAHAMAS —On 20th July 2020, University of The Bahamas announced that the 2020/21 academic year (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021) will continue in Emergency Remote Operations given the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. This means that all lecture, seminar, tutorial, some laboratories and practicum courses will be conducted virtually. 

University President, Dr. Rodney D. Smith said the decision, made by the University, came amid the growing number of cases locally that seem to indicate a second wave, and the results of surveys conducted by the Office of Academic Affairs in the month of July.  President Smith reiterated that the health and safety of the UB community was paramount, asserting, “While we would love to welcome all students back to campus, especially our new students, we must make decisions in the best interest of the health and wellbeing of all University stakeholders.”

Like universities across the globe, University of The Bahamas is faced with the unprecedented coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which has resulted in tremendous challenges and changes to our world, our country and our daily lives. Despite the limitations of physical and social distancing, the Office of Academic Affairs worked diligently during the Spring 2020 semester to ensure that, as far as possible, teaching and learning continued. Further, recognizing the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic, Academic Affairs continually met with all stakeholders, including Deans, Chairs, Directors, faculty and students. On 3rd July 2020, Academic Affairs invited all full-time faculty to participate in an online survey regarding the way forward for the Fall 2020 semester.  

145 faculty members which represents more than 70%, participated in the survey. Here is a snapshot of the survey’s results:

  •     87% of the faculty indicated that they were concerned or very concerned about teaching face-to face because of the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  •     Of the concerned and very concerned faculty, 78% indicated they would prefer to teach virtually only. 
  •     Faculty were also asked which type of course could best be delivered virtually. 95% of the faculty agreed that lectures/seminars could be delivered in a virtual environment.

Dr. Maria Oriakhi, Vice President of Academic Affairs said that it was important that the stakeholders were involved in the decision-making process and that the way forward was driven by data, explaining, “We didn’t want to make any decisions without getting the input of faculty and students. The data collected allowed us to determine how the 2020/2021 academic year would be structured given the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic with minimal interruption to the continuity and quality of teaching-learning process.”

The Office of Student Affairs will also survey students regarding their experiences in spring 2020, so that the University will seek more ways to improve the process and experiences. 

During Academic Year 2020/21, the Office of Academic Affairs will continue to facilitate a teaching and learning environment that enriches and engages our students and supports the on-time progress towards degree completion. We do so in a caring, respectful manner with the understanding that high-quality courses in modalities suitable to optimal learning outcomes must continue to be available to all University of The Bahamas students.