Academic Council Fall 2021 Guidance and Expectations during COVID-19 Pandemic

Approved by Academic Council, Sept. 10, 2021

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the Academic Council has approved the following guidance and expectations for Fall 2021 term under the University Senate policy on Academic Continuity (see also additional resources on Academic Continuity on the Office of the Provost website). These actions are necessary to provide flexibility for students due to illness or required quarantine protocols. Instructors should recognize that there is a high probability that some students will miss their class at some point during the term, perhaps for extended periods, for COVID-related reasons. Apart from the specific guidelines and expectations below, we encourage faculty to exercise their judgment and empathy for students in providing appropriate flexibility.

Standard Academic Policies

Please familiarize yourself with standard academic policies related to instruction and working with students. The Office of the Provost has created an Academic Policy library here: https://provost.uoregon.edu/academic-policies-procedures-and-guidance. Note the following new policies and guidance passed by the University Senate last spring:

University Policy Guidance

Mandatory First-Class Attendance

(see https://provost.uoregon.edu/mandatory-first-class-attendance-policy)

Given that there may be students unable to attend the first day of class for COVID-related reasons, the Mandatory First-Class Attendance policy is suspended for Fall 2021 term.

Eating and Drinking in Classrooms While Masked

Eating and drinking in classrooms is not allowed.

Course Preparation

In general, it is good practice to plan course activities and assignment two to three weeks out to aid in responding to a sudden significant academic disruption. This can provide a cushion of material to work with should a disruption occur either for the individual instructor or the university as whole. Given the unpredictability of public health conditions and regulations, instructors should be prepared to switch to remote teaching with limited advance notice. The Teaching Engagement Program has resources here to help with that.

Syllabus statement – instructors shall include the following statements on all course syllabi or clearly indicate on the syllabus where this information can be found on Canvas (for instance, a page could be created called “University COVID Policies”). Additional information on the COVID Containment Plan for Classes, including downloadable slides to show at beginning of class is available here. We strongly suggest you share these slides during your first few classes to reinforce the information.

Academic Disruption

In the event of a campus emergency that disrupts academic activities, course requirements, deadlines, and grading percentages are subject to change. Information about changes in this course will be communicated as soon as possible by email, and on Canvas. If we are not able to meet face-to-face, students should immediately log onto Canvas and read any announcements and/or access alternative assignments. Students are also expected to continue coursework as outlined in this syllabus or other instructions on Canvas.

In the event that the instructor of this course has to quarantine, this course may be taught online during that time.

COVID Containment Plan for Classes

As the University of Oregon returns to in-person instruction, the key to keeping our community healthy and safe involves prevention, containment, and support. Here is information critical to how the UO is responding to COVID-19.

  • Prevention: To prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms and on campus, all students and employees must:
  • Containment: If a student in class tests positive for COVID-19, all relevant classes will be notified via an email by the Corona Corps Care Team with instructions for students and staff based on their vaccination status. Specifically:
    • Vaccinated and Asymptomatic students: Quarantine not required, but daily self-monitoring before coming on campus is advised; sign up for testing through MAP 3-5 days after exposure if advised you are a contact.”
    • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students:  14-day quarantine advised – do not come to class – and sign up for testing 3-5 days after notification through MAP, if asymptomatic, or through University Health Services (541-346-2770) or your primary care provider, if symptomatic.
    • Symptomatic students: stay home (do not come to class/campus), complete the online case and contact form, and contact University Health Services (541-346-2770) or your primary care provide to arrange for immediate COVID-19 testing.

Students identified as a close contacts of a positive case will be contacted by the Corona Corps Care Team (541-346-2292).

Good Classroom Citizenship

  • Wear your mask and make sure it fits you well
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Get to know your neighbors in class, and let them know if you test positive
  • Get tested regularly
  • Watch for signs and symptoms with the daily symptom self-check
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer

Complete the UO COVID-19 case and contact reporting form if you test positive or are a close contact of someone who tests positive.

Enforcing the Mask Requirement in Class

For additional guidance on how to handle a situation where a student without a documented accommodation through AEC refuses to properly wear a mask in class, see https://coronavirus.uoregon.edu/prevention#classrooms.

Attendance and Makeups

Instructors may count attendance and participation as part of the grade provided they have reasonable ways for students to complete make-up assignments for a reasonable number of missed class sessions or participation points without loss of credit or points. Instructors must communicate these policies in their syllabi. Instructors who are unsure whether they are making reasonable accommodations should confer with their unit heads for guidance. In addition, students who are directed or advised to quarantine by the university or other public health authority or provider should be held harmless in attendance policies. Instructors may ask students for verification of their quarantine status.

    • It is critical that all instructors make clear to students that they should not attend class if they are ill, have symptoms, are quarantining, or are not compliant with the university’s vaccination or testing requirement. We do not want students attending class when they shouldn’t be because they fear their grade will be affected.
    • Instructors are not required to accommodate students who signed up for an in-person class but are requesting remote access for the entire term. Students have been advised to create a class schedule that best fits their situation; if they cannot attend in-person, they should enroll only in online courses. In addition, instructors may put some reasonable limits on absences and make-ups as long as those are communicated in the syllabus.
    • Instructors should ensure that absent students have equitable access to course content. The following are ways that instructors can provide access to course materials and content:
      • Instructors are not required to add recording or streaming to all in-person classes to accommodate absent students however 175 general pool and joint-control classrooms have been upgraded to make recording and streaming of in-person class sessions easier.
        • Record class sessions (follow instructions for setting up hyflex classroom if available and then see instructions for recording Zoom sessions). In many cases, this will be the easiest option to support absent students.
        • Allow remote access to live class sessions through Zoom. (Instructions for setting up a “hyflex” classroom)
      • Provide access to course materials such as slides and notes
      • Ask for volunteers from class to post their notes to Canvas and/or to connect with students who have had to miss
  • Instructors shall have clear communication and make-up protocols in place for students to follow if students are going to be or have been absent.
  • If a student’s frequent absences and lack of availability for make-ups are jeopardizing their success in the course, instructors should communicate with those students as early as possible and recommend students work with advisor to consider their options.
  • Instructors shall provide make-ups or alternatives to exams. If instructors need support to manage an increased volume of make-ups, they should work with their department head. In cases where students are missing only minor yet essential coursework, a grade of “Incomplete” may be used for make-ups that will take place after grades are due (see Incomplete Policy https://provost.uoregon.edu/grades-incompletes-policy).

Course Format and Engagement

In the Fall 2021 course schedule, courses are listed with one of three delivery modes in the "Location" column. They will either have a room location, “ASYNC WEB”, or “SYNC WEB”. The current schedule is based on pre-pandemic offerings with a limited number of ASYNC WEB courses and only a few SYNC WEB courses. Nevertheless, the following guidance remains in place for those courses and will be especially important to observe should conditions change.        

In-person Courses

  • Courses with a room assignment will be delivered in-person. Those courses should meet as scheduled, following university COVID-19 regulations for in-person gatherings.

Asynchronous Online (ASYNC WEB)

  • Courses listed as “ASYNC WEB” are asynchronous and do not have a class meeting time listed. In order to not interfere with students’ scheduled activities, instructors of these courses should not schedule required class meeting times (optional-to-students enhancement activities are allowed and encouraged as long as they don’t provide advantages to those students in terms of grades). These courses should follow the UOCC guidelines for online classes and the additional guidelines for graduate online courses where applicable. In addition, WEB courses, like all other courses, should include the following:
    • Contact from the instructor by the first day of Winter and Spring 2021 classes. This should be an email or Canvas message that welcomes students to the class, orients them to the general structure of the course and the Canvas site, and lets them know where to find the syllabus. UO Online and TEP have created customizable “Welcome Modules” that can be imported to your Canvas site and customized to supplement your welcome message.
    • Clear Communication. Inform students how they should communicate with you and GEs or TAs, and provide reasonable expected response times.
    • Scheduled Office Hours – At least 2 hours per week with a mix of scheduled and by-appointment options, and live, synchronous options.

Synchronous Online (SYNC WEB)

  • Courses with “SYNC WEB” have class meeting times and shall provide live engagement during the scheduled meeting times as defined by the Student Engagement Inventory for the course. Instructors may make the following adjustments for courses that have to be offered remotely or partially remotely (some face-to-face and some remote):
    • Live engagement can take many different forms. For example, it might include a mix of content delivery, facilitated discussions on Zoom, facilitated discussion-board discussions, breakout sessions for students on Zoom, group project time with the instructor available for guidance. The following are not suitable replacements for contact under current policy:
      • Posting of supplemental content materials
      • Announcements
      • Assignments
      • Office hours, online or otherwise
    • Whatever the mix, at least 50% of the live engagement should include planned and structured content delivery or discussion.
      • Note: It’s important that students feel the instructor’s presence and engagement in the class. The most visible part of instructor engagement is in the scheduled class time, so instructors are encouraged to think carefully before they use scheduled class time for anything other than live interaction. Moreover, spring students noted a sharp increase in workload for remote classes. That increase seemed to be created by multiple, asynchronous activities meant to replace classroom engagements combined with the time demands of navigating new technology and multiple platforms, finding course materials, typing rather than speaking responses, etc. Thus, instructors also should know that part of the intent of the live meetings requirement is to be a “container” for student work, which should never go above 30 hours total per credit per term (or 120 hours total for a four-credit course). 
    • Where appropriate and possible, instructors should create opportunities for student-student interaction.
    • Whatever the mix, instructors should be available to students during each scheduled class period. If instructors are not going to be available during a scheduled class period, they should treat that as a “cancelled” class meeting and handle that as they would during a regular, non-remote term with appropriate notifications to students and anyone else as required by the department, and appropriate replacement of that instructional time. Instructors should schedule and be available to meet during office hours outside the scheduled class time in accordance with Academic Council, department and/or school/college policies on office hours.