COVID-19 Q and A for CFA Members

The situation is changing rapidly, and this document will be updated regularly with new Qs&As and information, as needed. Please check back for updates.

Updated 3-20-20

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1. What is CFA doing to make sure all faculty have safe working conditions during this pandemic?

CFA leadership is fully engaged and centering CSU faculty, students, and staff as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. CFA leaders and staff are meeting daily to coordinate advocacy and support for all represented faculty: tenure-track and tenured professors, lecturers, librarians, coaches, and counselors.

CFA contacted CSU management well before they took visible steps to respond to COVID-19. As early as March 2, 2020, we reached out to the Chancellor’s Office of Labor Relations to find out what steps, if any, the CSU had for ensuring the health and safety of faculty, students, staff, and the greater communities in which we work.

CFA demanded that first and foremost any moves away from in-person instruction honor the collective bargaining agreement. We stressed that not all faculty are prepared or able to transfer their syllabi, teaching, and learning outside of classrooms, labs, studios, libraries, counseling centers, sporting venues, or other areas of instruction (including off campus sites, service-learning, or clinical venues).  We also stressed that the CSU administration must condemn and discourage racist stereotyping in light of the virus’ origins.

CFA leadership and staff at all 23 CSU campuses have met and may meet again with campus administrators to give input into the continuing transitions and changes that have had to occur. On some campuses, we have already filed Safety grievances when faculty concerns were not met. CFA will continue this kind of advocacy moving forward as well.

2. My campus has cancelled face-to-face instruction, am I now required to teach “virtually?”  What if it is not feasible?

Many courses cannot accommodate “virtual” treatment due to the subjects, pedagogy, etc. Faculty should not be penalized if they are unable to transfer their teaching to alternative modalities.

Moreover, many students may be unprepared to shift from in-class to “virtual,” which might defeat the purpose of a uniform plan. Faculty should have flexibility in deciding how to deliver course content or other instruction based on their professional assessment.

If you are unable to work from home or virtually to accomplish your work, please be in touch with your department chair, dean, or supervisor to work out a plan that accommodates your needs. Also, be in touch with your chapter’s faculty rights team if you need support from CFA to make your plan work.

3. Even though face to face classes are cancelled, are faculty allowed to work in their offices?  Can I be on campus to use campus resources (internet, printers, etc.)

The answer to this question changes daily and may vary from place to place. Check your campus’s website before you come to campus. CFA recommends that faculty remain safe, healthy, and follow social distancing and quarantine directions that apply.

Regions, counties, and communities have specific advisories in place that might limit travel outside of your home. Governor Gavin Newsom announced on March 15 that people in California who are over the age of 65 or are immune-compromised must self-isolate. In a message to all faculty, sent on March 15, 2020, Chancellor White communicated to CSU that “a telecommute working arrangement can be established allowing [CSU employees] to remain productive and continue advancing the operations and mission of the CSU.”

4. There is a lot of attention to cancelling face-to-face courses and transitioning those to virtual modalities.  What about the impacts on librarians, counselors, and coaches?

We expect coaches, counselors, and librarians to be treated with the same safety concerns as others in the CSU community, and that they will remain employed regardless of how they carry out their job duties.  

Several campuses already confirmed that all faculty – including coaches, counselors, and librarians – will be able to work remotely, and CFA requested assurance from the Chancellor’s Office that this will be the case on all CSU campuses. While the CSU Vice Chancellor for Human Resources would not make a systemwide commitment that all faculty will be allowed to work remotely, she stated that the CO will look into specific instances in which campus administrators fail to keep our members safe. We will continue to monitor and act as needed.

5. I am a Lecturer and I teach part-time. If classes are cancelled, will I be paid? Will my benefits be affected?

As long as lecturers (and all of our faculty) continue to work, as they are, they will be paid and benefits will remain in place.  If classes are cancelled, CFA expects that faculty will be placed on administrative leave with pay. Affected members should contact their chapter representatives under these circumstances.

6. How can I protect the intellectual property of my lesson plans and instructional materials?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement ensures that faculty own their IP. This right applies for work used in the classroom or wherever Faculty work is performed. Unless you entered into a specific agreement to assign your rights to the University or a third party, your IP is yours even if you are having to share your work “virtually” or through online platforms. Unless the University has entered into a separate agreement, and provided extraordinary support in exchange for ownership or license, your works are yours. If you think that the University is violating the right to own IP, please be in touch with your chapter’s faculty rights team.

Check out this faculty rights tip about intellectual property.

7. What if I don’t have equipment, data, reliable internet, software, or things I need to work remotely?

We are advising members to be in touch with their chairs, deans, or direct supervisors if they lack the necessary equipment to work remotely. This problem certainly brings to light the inequities we have in the system. If you do not have or are unable to obtain equipment, data, reliable internet, software, or things the need to work remotely from their campuses, please be in touch with faculty rights advocates from your campus.

8. How will courses be assessed this term? (Will administrators be using student evaluations this term?)

We know that faculty are rising to the occasion and that across the board, faculty are doing their best to offer meaningful education in these unprecedented and extenuating circumstances.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement sets out that all courses are subject to student surveys unless the campus President has approved a requirement to evaluate fewer classes. CFA is seeking to make sure that faculty do not suffer consequences or negative personnel decisions due to evaluations that fail to take into account the disruption to work performed this term. Should you have any problems with the misuse of student evaluations/opinions/surveys, please be in touch with your chapter’s faculty rights team.

Additionally, there are department, college, and campus policies on all 23 campuses that are in place and should be followed. However, the pandemic may require some modifications on how the policies are used this term. You will want to be in touch with your colleagues about any changes or modifications to existing evaluation policies since things are shifting rapidly.

9. Will timelines for grievances be adjusted in light of the coronavirus situation?

Grievances should be filed no later than 42 days after the administration has violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

CFA can toll post-grievance filing timelines if the health or safety of advocates or CFA staff require such measures.

10. What if I am sick and cannot work?

Faculty may need to take sick leave if they are unable to work or risk exposure to COVID-19 and/or other infections. See Article 24 for more about your rights to accrue and use sick leave. If faculty run out of sick leave, they may need to make requests for donated sick leave from their colleagues. See Article 24.23.

Contact HR or payroll on your campus if you have specific questions about your sick leave availability.

11. I need to take time off to care for my family members or otherwise need to take leave because of the crisis. What options do I have?

Sick leave provisions (see above) may be used for you or for your need to care for your immediate family. Under the Collective Bargaining agreement, “immediate family” includes “the employee’s spouse or domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, son, son-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, stepchild or stepparent of the employee, spouse or domestic partner, and close relative or persons residing in the immediate household of the employee (except domestic employees or roomers).  Also included in this definition shall be any minor children or incapacitated individuals for whom the employee has primary responsibility or legal guardianship or conservatorship.”

Contact HR or payroll on your campus if you have specific questions about your sick leave availability or the federal FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act).

You may be eligible for paid administrative leave connected to the COVID-19 crisis between now and December 31, 2020. You should make a request to your supervisor to take this COVID-19 related leave.

Contact HR or payroll on your campus if you have specific questions about your sick leave availability.

12. What can I do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus?

California’s Department of Public Health recommends:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
  • Follow guidance from public health officials.​

13. What if I have more questions?

CFA has a dedicated webpage with archived communications and statements from the union. A direct link to the page is:

Faculty can reach out to CFA chapter presidents, faculty rights chairs, and CFA field representatives with questions or concerns about their safety, their working conditions, and any contract-related issues.  The CFA webpage includes a list with contact details for the 23 chapters.

Faculty can also contact deans, department chairs, or campus designees with specific individual questions about the latest campus policies and guidance.