Memo outlines new fall guidance for instructors

Guidance released in a July 16 memo from the provost's office and the fall academic continuity working group includes several new recommendations that will affect instruction and other interactions with students.

Seating charts

Designated seating should be used in face-to-face classes to ensure physical distancing and to assist in contact tracing, if needed. In learning spaces without seats, such as studios and labs, maintain a location chart. Classrooms are being prepared to support physical distancing rules. 

Messages to students

Many changes for the fall that will impact students were outlined in July 10 messages from President Wendy Wintersteen:

Avoid congregating

Before and after classes, instructors should not congregate with students in the classroom, avoiding disruptions to exiting and entering the room.

Attendance and absences

Given the health concerns this fall, establishing attendance expectations for students will be a challenge. Instructors should consider grading on achievement rather than attendance.

In a July 22 memo to faculty, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert noted that while faculty have the authority to set their own policies on attendance, he urges flexibility this fall. Complying with public health recommendations such as self-isolating due to a positive COVID-19 test, waiting for test results or staying home when experiencing symptoms will all be considered excused absences. Wickert asked faculty to work with department chairs and program directors to establish alternative approaches to failing students who have significant absences, such as assigning a grade of incomplete and allowing students more time to complete coursework.

Virtual support

Faculty are urged to hold virtual office hours, due in part to the space constraints of most offices. If physical distancing is possible, faculty can meet with a student one-on-one but should do so by appointment.

Student support services such as academic advising, tutoring, academic coaching, supplemental instruction and learning communities will operate in a similar manner this fall, as outlined in a July 10 memo from the academic continuity working group and the academic support services subcommittee. Most small group and one-on-one activities will be virtual, with large group in-person meetings possible with adequate physical distancing.

Canvas and testing

All courses must use the Canvas learning management system, which also is encouraged for course assignments. Conducting exams online is preferable, if possible. The academic continuity working group released a July 16 memo on fall testing options.

Schedule coming soon

A fall schedule of classes that includes room assignments will be released Aug. 3. The original schedule was maintained whenever possible. The schedule will designate the delivery mode for each course as face-to-face, hybrid or online.