Preparing for a safe return
Concordia University is preparing for a safe, vibrant face-to-face campus experience in the fall of 2020. Guided by our COVID-19 Values Framework, we will ensure the safest facilities possible, while following guidance from the CDC and our state and public health officials.
In-person face-to face (f2f)
Using these goals and standards, the Provost’s Office has developed a plan for fall 2020 teaching and learning for academic programs that normally meet in-person face-to face (f2f). We strive to provide as many in-person f2f learning opportunities as possible. At the same time, the university must address the realities raised by the COVID challenge. In balancing those two somewhat competing initiatives, our plan is to offer blended courses, providing as much in-person teaching and learning as possible but also providing teaching/learning opportunities for the instructors and students who have valid reasons not to be on-campus for their courses. We strive to offer as many of our learning opportunities synchronously, but recognize that some asynchronous learning will be part of this blended experience.
Concordia’s plans will:
- Ensure achievement of our teaching and learning mission
- Reduce onsite density
- Provide ample space for physical distancing in work areas
- Consider employees’ personal circumstances
Staggered onsite schedules, mixtures of onsite and remote work, full remote work
These plans may include planning for staggered onsite schedules, mixtures of onsite and remote work, allowance for full remote work when feasible with the essential functions of the role and overall staffing needs for a given department, moving desks and offices to enable physical distancing, as well as other considerations.
Updating and improving protocols
Our workplace staffing protocols will be iterative and campus leadership will continue to update and improve the model based on feedback and changing CDC and state and public health guidance. This guidance is applicable to all CUWAA instructors and contains information specifically about faculty work (teaching, office hours and advising). It applies to both graduate and undergraduate courses and programs and is intended to supplement general employee information provided by our Human Resources team.
The following guidance goes into effect August 1, 2020. Please contact Kim Masenthin, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources with any general questions. Faculty should contact Dr. Leah Dvorak, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, for faculty-specific questions.
These guidelines apply to courses that are normally taught in an in-person format. Online courses are not taught in-person, so no changes to normal procedures are needed or expected.
Instructors who normally teach face-to-face will continue to teach in-person as much as is feasible, following social distancing guidelines in classrooms. We recommend supplementing in-person instruction with asynchronous content delivery. It is also possible to combine in-person and synchronous virtual (zoom) class sessions in certain classrooms equipped for this teaching method (“polysynchronous” delivery). Our IT team is working diligently this summer to prepare more classrooms for poly-synchronous teaching and learning. This summer, CELT has provided frequent learning opportunities to assist faculty in preparing for fall.
Some lab, studio or other hands-on learning experiences will follow a specific format approved by the department and school; please check with your dean for more information if this applies to your course. Clinical courses, internships, student teaching, and other experiential learning experiences may have additional rules or guidelines, so please check with your dean or program director for specific information about those courses.
Communicating with students
Open your Blackboard course at least one week prior to the first day of the term if you teach a traditional semester course. (This is earlier than our normal timeframe.) Please post the syllabus and Zoom link prominently on your course content page. Put these important communication tools upfront where they’ll be very visible and accessible to your students. You can easily hide assignments and other materials from students by making those items “unavailable” until the first day of class.
Send your students a friendly, welcoming email during the week before your first class session. This is easy to do using Blackboard. In that email, you can direct students to the Blackboard course and its embedded Zoom link. This is a wonderful way to show your care and concern for your students, and to begin to form a sense of community and connection with your class.
The first class session for all traditional undergraduate and graduate courses will be a Zoom session required for all students enrolled in the course. At that first class session, the instructor will review the course plan and syllabus, and will explain how the course will run. Please record and post this first class session in Blackboard.
Course logistics must be clearly described in the syllabus. Let’s make it easy for our students to understand our policies and expectations. They should know precisely when they will be in the classroom, when they’ll be submitting work or posting in Blackboard, and when they will be learning on Zoom. Due dates for all assignments must be stated.
Assignments will be submitted through Blackboard; this is now a university requirement. The CELT has numerous resources to assist faculty in developing assignment submission tools (“drop-boxes”) in Blackboard. In addition, all class handouts and other course materials will be provided through Blackboard; please do not make copies to pass out. This allows all students to easily access course materials.
- Face masks and/or other PPEFace masks and/or other PPE (i.e. face shields) will be worn by faculty and students in all face-to-face classrooms, labs (including research labs) and other learning environments. We will wear masks whenever we are in classrooms and other teaching spaces with other people, even when they are more than 6 feet away. Faculty should clearly articulate the face mask or other PPE requirement on the syllabus. Students who need an accommodation with respect to masks must request that accommodation from the ARC. The university continues to recommend masks rather than face shields; the data show that cloth masks provide a more effective barrier to transmission of droplets and aerosols. Please remember that we are role models for our students with regard to our care and concern for others. Faculty who choose to wear a face shield while teaching must still wear a cloth mask when walking to and from their classrooms, unless they have an accommodation.
- AttendanceAttendance will be taken and recorded as usual on the CUWAA portal using our automatic attendance tool. For asynchronous elements of a course, submission of an assignment (e.g. quiz, paper, discussion post, etc.) will count as having attended. Faculty must clearly explain course attendance requirements on the syllabus in light of the temporary COVID-19 attendance policy (see the Faculty Handbook for this policy).
- FlexibilityWe are asking faculty to be generous and flexible with respect to attendance this fall. You should still take and record attendance, but do not penalize students who miss class due to illness. Absence because of illness should be recorded as absent in the attendance tracker so that the student’s advisor can follow up if needed. There is a button for recording extended absences in the tracker.
- TimelinessFaculty must begin and end (especially end) in-person class sessions on time, or even a few minutes early. This will help to minimize the number of students gathering close together in hallways before and after classes. We have asked maintenance to designate “IN” and “OUT” doors to classrooms where that is feasible.
- Cleaning suppliesEach classroom or other teaching space has been provided with cleaning supplies that you can use to quickly wipe down high-touch surfaces. Housekeeping will clean each classroom daily.
- Spread out studentsPlease ensure that students are spread out in the classroom to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. Academics and maintenance are working to move some furniture out of classrooms and to mark off seats in some classrooms to assist with maintaining distance. If your classroom has not been modified, use common sense to keep your students apart.
- Seating chartHave students sit in the same seats whenever they are in the classroom, and draw a simple seating chart for your class. In the event of a positive COVID test, this will make contact tracing easier, and will contribute to the university’s ability to limit the spread of infection. You do not need to share the seating chart; just keep it in case it is needed.
- Food in classDo not allow students to eat or drink in your in-person classes, unless they have a documented disability allowing them to do so; if that is the case, the ARC will notify you. Put this policy in your syllabus.
Meetings and office hours
Full-time faculty members may hold office hours and advising sessions virtually through Zoom, or in-person when both the instructor and the student agree to meet face-to-face. Masks or other PPE must be worn for in-person meetings and social distancing should occur. Faculty must clearly explain their office hour policies on the syllabus. (Remember that university policy requires 10 office hours per week during the fall traditional semester.) Adjunct instructors should normally plan to meet with students using Zoom.
- All faculty, department, school and committee meetings will be held virtually with zoom this fall.
- Face masks are not required when alone in your office, studio or laboratory but are required in common spaces (hallways, restrooms, etc.).
- When not teaching or meeting in person with students, faculty members are encouraged to work from home.
Accommodations for faculty and students
We are likely to have more students than usual who will need ADA accommodations due to COVID. In addition, students may become ill during the semester; those with potential COVID symptoms will not be permitted to attend in-person classes. Such absences will be considered excused, and no documentation will be required. Faculty must plan ahead so that all students can continue to learn and succeed. Please be flexible and ensure that your students can access course material if they are unable to physically attend class or lab. Consider recording and posting your class sessions using Panopto (if it is an option in your classroom), Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate, posting PowerPoint slides in Blackboard, holding online discussions, and developing other creative ways to include all students in the learning experience. We also encourage you to conduct exams, tests and quizzes online whenever that is possible so that all students can access them. The CELT can help you with this. (You can use Zoom to record a class session on your laptop in any classroom.)
If a faculty member has a documented health concern related to COVID-19, please submit a Request for Reasonable Accommodation form to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that the ADA applies only to employees with documented health concerns. The university is committed to doing our best to accommodate the needs of all our employees, while ensuring operational continuity and continuing to serve and support student learning.
Student academic services will be provided for all students; please encourage your students to contact the ARC on their campus for tutoring and all other services. Many services will be provided virtually and students will be asked to schedule appointments rather than drop in.
Frequently asked questions
Students who are ill (with diagnosed COVID, suspected COVID, or any other illness) should be marked as excused in the online attendance tracker. We want to err on the side of grace and safety with respect to everyone's health.
Students who feel ill, whether or not they have a COVID diagnosis, should not attend in-person classes and should be given an excused absence. We will err on the side of health and safety; that means we would generally allow for extensions or rescheduling and will assume that students are honest and acting in good faith. If there is evidence that a student is gaming the system, you can address that student individually. Note that we will not require documentation of illness.
Yes, the COVID attendance policy still applies to someone who gets a COVID test that comes back negative. Students who test negative can return to classroom settings as soon as they feel well enough to do so, and are fever-free; they will follow our classroom protocols of masks and social distancing.
We will extend quite a bit of grace this year because some people with COVID may be too ill to communicate promptly. This would be similar to the way we would treat a student who, for example, was seriously injured in an accident and could not communicate with the instructor immediately.
Because fully online courses do not require in-person attendance, we will follow our usual online attendance policy.
If a student tells you she is experiencing symptoms please have the student leave the classroom and encourage her to communicate with the Student Health Center (if at the CUW campus), communicate with Student Life (if at the CUAA campus) or seek medical treatment from her own provider right away. At CUW, the Student Health Center will be the main contact for student illness and isolation or quarantine information. At CUAA, the Office of Student Life will be the main contact point.
An individual would be asked to isolate when he or she has tested positive for COVID. An individual would be asked to self-quarantine when he or she has been exposed to an infected person (defined as having a positive COVID test) for more than 15 minutes without masks and without having maintained social distance. Because the university is requiring masks and social distancing in our classrooms, the need for self-quarantine should be rather minimal. That is why maintaining social distance and wearing masks is so important. We do not want students or faculty to have to self-quarantine.
The university is continuing development of a reporting and contact tracing process that will be announced in the coming weeks. Government regulations state that we cannot give specific names of individuals who test positive for COVID to others, but only general information, if needed, when a person may have been in close proximity to an infected person without masks and social distancing. Our county health departments are working closely with us on tracing guidelines and will do their own communication on tracing in addition to what the university is providing.
You should manage this situation in the same way that you would handle a student who came to class dressed inappropriately; gently remind the student about the university mask policy, encourage the student to go grab a mask, and warmly welcome him or her back to class once the mask is in place. If someone is belligerent about it, you can contact campus safety. A student who cannot wear a mask due to a health concern must contact ARC for an accommodation.