Frequently Asked Questions: In Person Teaching, Fall 2021


Questions preceded by an asterisk (*) were added August 19.

Questions preceded by a plus sign (+) were added after September 8.

When a Student Has Covid

  • Student should follow advice at https://www.emory.edu/forward/covid-19/if-you-feel-sick.html.
  • Instructor should fill out Student of Concern form.  
  • You should not inform the class – please leave this to contact tracing.
  • You may not be a close contact – you will be contacted by contact tracing if you are, but if you are not contacted, then likely you are not a close contact.
  • If you show any symptoms you should teach your class remotely. This is true even if nobody in your class is sick – this is a general rule.
  • If you wish, you can get covid-tested within 3 to 5 days that the COVID-positive student was last in your class.
  • As of September 8, 2021, Emory has not yet had a case of COVID transmission in the classroom – this includes all of last year. The transmission we’re seeing is mostly off-campus: student attending parties where they are not wearing masks. Be reassured that our classroom procedures (everybody wearing a face mask, nearly everybody vaccinated) are working to keep us safe so far.

Last year with in-person teaching found that the vast majority of students were compliant with safety requirements in classrooms.

As is true pre-pandemic, you have a responsibility to protect the health of all students and maintain decorum in the classroom. Accordingly, you have and should exercise authority to ask someone to leave the classroom should they refuse to wear a face mask, or if they engage in conduct that is inappropriate for the class. These would be considered violations of the student conduct code, and as such will be handled by your school. You should consult with your school for more specific guidance. 

Any student, faculty, or staff member who witnesses a student violating the Community Compact can submit a referral form anytime ​to the Emory Compact Response Team (ECRT). However, as our goal is to achieve compliance, we are utilizing a Public Health framework to educate our community and change norms. Our goal is for every member of our community to be “responsible” for the Compact and Public Health research demonstrates the best way to achieve compliance is for all community members to see following Compact as their responsibility. 

The first step is for community members (students, faculty, staff) who “see” behaviors to address them in a kind and compassionate way. If behavior continues, for example in a class environment, lab, or residence hall, community members should feel comfortable submitting a report. Referrals to ECRT are most helpful when they include student’s name and specific concern. Once a report is received it is reviewed by ​the Office of Student Conduct and the student receives an email requesting a meeting with an ECRT member. As ​the goal is to achieve compliance the first meetings are approached from an educational perspective ​by review​ing the Community Compact expectations and ​determining outcomes including a warning ​and/or educational module. If ECRT receives additional reports about a student after the initial meeting occurs, or the behavior is egregious, then the Conduct process within the student’s school may be initiated. 

Sanctions for non-adherence to the Emory Compact include an educational module, housing or disciplinary probation, removal from in person courses and experiences, housing privilege revocation, and suspension. Decisions on sanctions are made based on the severity of the incident and prior Compact and Student Conduct history.

Further discussion of the instructor role in the Community Compact can be found at this link

We also suggest that an instructor can provide directions to a symptomatic student on what they need to do if they are sick. The next steps a student can take are described at this link. Feel free to put this advice on your syllabus!

COVID testing is available for all Emory students, faculty, and staff. It will be mandatory for anybody coming to campus who is not fully vaccinated. It will certainly be available for people who are experiencing symptoms, independent of vaccination status. Multiple testing locations are available, with hours often beginning at 6am till 7pm. Locations and times can be found here on Emory Forward.

This will be handled like last year: there is a quarantine/isolation process. Instructors need to anticipate this can happen and be prepared to help. You might stay in touch via email & Canvas, you might provide assignments, you might have a student attending class provide notes for the student in quarantine. If you are extremely motivated you might try Zoom-casting your in-person class to the remote student, but we do not expect many instructors will be able to do that. The key is trying to be flexible and sympathetic and allowing for students to go into quarantine as needed without feeling too stressed about having to miss class. 

Please see the guidance at this link.

This will work similar to what we did last year, although the CDC guidance changes now that almost everybody will be vaccinated. There is set-aside housing space in the Emory Conference Center for students in I / Q. We also have the downstream areas for support – academic continuity, food service, etc. Oxford campus also has I / Q space for their students. If a person is identified as a close contact and they are vaccinated and asymptomatic, they do not need to quarantine (although they will need to be tested 3-5 days post-exposure).

If you are identified as a close contact by contact tracing, then yes, you have a “need to know” and will be informed. In other situations, this is a balance between “need to know” and “want to know,” as discussed at the bottom of this webpage.

As per the previous question, if some or all of your students are identified as a close contact by contact tracing, then yes, they have a “need to know” and will be informed. In other situations, this is a balance between “need to know” and “want to know,” as discussed at the bottom of this webpage. As the instructor, please do not inform the class yourself, as this creates difficulties for contact tracing.

In the schools that have clinical activities, the deans’ offices have designated persons who have the responsibility to contact community partners.

Maybe. The best idea we’ve heard is to implement a seating chart if this is feasible, and make it available to students on Canvas or otherwise. Then if a student is contacted by contact tracing, they can use the seating chart to identify close contacts. However, note that currently contact tracing does not have any other easy way to get your seating chart, which is why Emory hasn’t mandated seating charts this semester.

PPE Questions

Everybody is required to wear a face mask while they are indoors on campus. This requirement includes instructors while teaching. This guidance has changed from last year, due to what we now understand about how COVID-19 is transmitted (through small aerosol droplets), and the more contagious delta variant now in circulation. While almost everybody on campus will be vaccinated this fall semester, some people are immunocompromised and cannot be fully vaccinated. Other people may be vaccinated but need to avoid breakthrough infections due to having small children or other family members who cannot be vaccinated.  Thus, everybody needs to wear a face mask at all times while indoors on campus, including instructors while teaching. 

This PPE guidance may change during the semester as the vaccination rate in Georgia improves, and if the number of COVID-19 cases drops in the state. Any changes will be updated in this FAQ and communicated to Emory through the normal communication channels.

Please see this Emory advice on type of cloth face masks to use and how to wear them. Your school should be able to provide you with face masks that will comply with this advice.

All students are required to wear face masks at all times in the classrooms, covering their mouth and nose. To be clear, this requirement applies to everybody who is indoors on campus, and not just to classrooms. Please see this Emory advice on type of cloth face masks to use and how to wear them

To see the CFDE's syllabus language to reinforce the mask policy for students, please follow this link.

Your school will provide your PPE.

Hopefully this situation is rare, given that students should be wearing a face mask as soon as they enter the building. But even better, Emory is installing face mask dispensers at the entrances to buildings. Anyone arriving at a building and realizing they forgot their mask can get a mask immediately. Should a student show up at your classroom without a mask, simply redirect them to the nearest mask dispenser – which presumably is by the nearest building entrance.

Yes. Emory has an inventory of transparent face masks, and you should be able to get one of these by contacting your school administration. Emory has been testing the ClearMask and finding that this works well.  While it is stated on this website that these masks are single-use, we believe it can be used more than once and are confirming this. Check with your school to learn about procuring these masks. Note that these transparent masks are not recommended for full-day use; they are acceptable to use while you are teaching.

If you prefer to use a different transparent face mask than one acquired from Emory, please read this Emory advice about quality and fit of mask. Your face mask needs to fit snugly against the sides of your face, whether transparent or cloth.

There are students with hearing impairments who would benefit from the use of transparent face masks. It is recommended that you use a microphone to assist with audio. Emory’s Department of Accessibility Services will send out specific guidance as it relates to supporting the needs of these students but we will need to be mindful and flexible if a student shares any issues with audio visual elements of the class. Please review some guidance from the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes.

Yes, assuming they follow the same PPE guidelines as above.

This is not required for Fall 2021. In part this is because the barriers are designed to prevent the spread of larger droplets when people talk, and it is now recognized that smaller droplets are a key part of spreading COVID-19 and these are not blocked by the barrier. The airflow inside buildings has been optimized to maximize fresh air exchanges to address concerns about these smaller droplets.

Some classrooms still have acrylic barriers installed. Even if you are teaching from behind an acrylic barrier, the guidance above about PPE still applies: you must still wear a face mask.

No – CDC guidance is that a face shield is not appropriate PPE at this point. One might hope that conditions will change so that face shields would be an allowable option. Emory will continue to monitor public health guidance around this issue.

We recommend you contact your school to learn about audio amplification options for your classroom. One option, for example, may be a portable audio amplifier that you can wear. The CFDE has compiled classroom support contact information for all Emory schools here; this information is current as of August 2021. Please see this helpful UGA advice on lecturing while wearing masks.

One option is to run a Zoom session during class – not for audio, but for the chat. A student can put a question into the chat, then raise their hand, and you can consult the chat to see what their question is. Students can join Zoom using a phone, tablet, or laptop – of course a phone is the easiest option. If it makes sense for your class, you could designate someone to specifically monitor the chat. Another option is for students to write down their question and pass it to you. We optimistically believe students will be sympathetic to the challenges of wearing masks in the classroom, and will be willing to do whatever it takes to make the class work for you and for them. Yet another option is to request transparent face masks for your student; contact your school to find out if this is an option (that is, your school may able to supply this PPE). See question above at the top of the FAQ about transparent face masks.

it is possible that we may have the capacity to add extra microphones for a classroom, perhaps especially for the larger classrooms. It may be challenging to get this in place by the start of classes, but please contact your local classroom support people. The CFDE has compiled classroom support contact information for all Emory schools here; this information is current as of August 2021.

Other Safety Questions

There are no physical distancing requirements at Emory for Fall 2021. Thus, classrooms will be at full seating this semester.

This is because we have a largely vaccinated community, face mask requirements, contact tracing, improved HVAC, and other safety measures in place. Following CDC guidance, under these conditions we do not need physical distancing. Emory continues to monitor safety indicators, so of course this policy may change if conditions change.

Answers likely vary from classroom to classroom; you may want to look over your classroom and think about where you’d be standing and teaching. One technique that might be good for pedagogical reasons would be to use a document camera or iPad instead of the whiteboard, which you could then screen-cast to the classroom and also simultaneously record via Zoom. Pedagogically this is a nice solution as it is an easy way to record what you are doing in case a student misses class or simply wants to review what you said. This would let you work from a classroom location (the podium) which is typically not that close to students.

Emory’s public health and leadership teams review multiple indicators on transmission sources, risk of transmission, vaccination rates, campus prevalence, and other data points to inform decision-making. Any changes to density in campus spaces would be informed by the evidence and resulting public health analysis.

Not at this time, other than to note that everybody is required to wear a face mask while indoors at Emory, which includes the hallways to and from classrooms.

The ventilation systems have been adjusted to minimize the amount of recirculated air and maximize the fresh air intake. Additionally, UV lighting has been installed on some main air handlers to help further diminish the virus levels in the air; higher efficiency filter systems have been installed where possible; and increased HVAC system inspections and improvements to building automation systems provide early warning when systems are not operating properly.

Contact your school’s facilities management team to answer your question.

Contact your school’s facilities management team to answer your question. In some buildings there are reasons why the windows need to stay locked – for example, in science buildings, chemical fume hoods don’t function if the windows are open due to the way the air flow is maintained. While of course most classroom buildings don’t have chemical fume hoods, there may be other reasons why the windows in your building are locked. Your school’s facilities management team will be able to answer this question for your specific room, be it your classroom or your office.

No, they need to keep their face mask on and that precludes eating and drinking. It’s also not great if they’re fiddling with their mask to try to get a straw into their mouth. However, some students need to eat or drink for medical reasons (for example, diabetes) so you should be prepared to discuss exceptions to this rule with students, without necessarily requiring them to disclose personal details.

Yes, if a student needs to go to the bathroom, then it’s OK if they need to pass by other students to leave the classroom. As there are no physical distancing requirements at Emory at this time, students do not need to be unusually cautious about walking by other students in the classroom, and there are no restrictions on their movement in or around the room. 

If you are planning some class activity that requires students to get up and move around, or work together in small groups in the classroom, then please give the students a heads-up. Be mindful that there may be students who are uncomfortable with being too close to others, for example if the student has health conditions that make them extra cautious. Please do not debate the students about their safety concerns, as this might put pressure on a student to disclose personal health information or other private details. Do not assume you know why a student has concerns. Respect their privacy the way you expect them to respect your privacy. The CFDE recommends trying to work with the students with concerns to see if they have ideas how to work in small groups in a way that respects their concerns. For example, working in the hallway where there may be space to spread out. See also the question below “CAN STUDENTS WORK IN SMALL GROUPS IN THE CLASSROOM?” for further advice.

You will need to check to see if you have any extra seats. If you do have extra seats, you may allow the non-enrolled students to stay if you wish. But if the classroom is full, you should tell the non-enrolled students that they cannot remain due to safety protocols. This is not the semester to allow extra students to sit on the floor or stand at the back.

Yes, there is screening testing available for anybody at Emory who wants it. This testing is required for people who are not vaccinated, but is available even if you are vaccinated. Multiple testing locations are available, with hours often beginning at 6am till 7pm. Locations and times can be found here on Emory Forward.

No, you cannot. Keep in mind that everybody on campus will either be vaccinated or they will be getting a regular COVID test; everybody is participating in keeping the campus safe. It violates student privacy to ask this question. It also sets up a tension between you and any students who aren’t vaccinated. There is a difference between “need to know” and “want to know,” which is discussed at the bottom of this webpage.

The CFDE strongly recommends against this. The students are getting plenty of messages about vaccines from Emory, and these messages are crafted by professionals. They do not need extra messages coming from their instructors. Additionally, there is a power dynamic between you and your students. If you discuss vaccines with your students, a student may feel pressured or uncomfortable with you even if you’re unaware of their vaccination status. Even with the best of intentions on your side, students can worry about how you view them and how you might treat them. You should avoid debating students about vaccines. Overall, unless you are teaching GH 571 (“Vaccines and Vaccine Preventable Diseases”), we recommend you do not talk about COVID vaccines with your students. Or if vaccines are relevant for your class in some other way – as current events often are for courses – please treat the subject with the sensitivity you treat other personal topics.

No, they need to keep their face mask on at all times. Yes, there are concerns that it will be hard to understand the students when they are wearing masks; fortunately, this did not seem to be a big problem for instructors teaching in-person in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.

No, as studies have shown that infections due to fomites (objects carrying an infection) is rare for COVID-19. But each room will have hand sanitizer and paper towels available so that instructors and students can do any additional cleaning they may wish to do. We emphasize that this is just for people with special concerns about cleaning; instructors and students are not responsible for classroom cleaning. (They are responsible for their own PPE.)

There are many reasons why you might want to move your class online temporarily, and we’re not going to list all of them. Instead, the best answer to this question is that most or all of Emory’s schools and colleges are willing to let you move your class online for a short period of time (two weeks or less). You should contact the deans’ office in your school to talk with them about your specific circumstances. This becomes especially true if you desire to move your class online for a longer period of time.

This is normal and occurred pre-pandemic. Students need to be fever-free for at least 24 hours (without medication), and they have to have improving symptoms. And yes, they need to have a negative COVID test.

n some cases you should call contact tracing, as mentioned on this Emory Forward page. Emory is aware of the problem of people being on hold when they call contact tracing, and Emory is working to add more people to take calls.

Based on Emory’s experiences with in-person teaching from 2020-21, we know that even with PPE, being physically present with others in these classroom spaces is much more effective than a Zoom meeting. We also hope that as the pandemic evolves and more people in Georgia are vaccinated, that some of the PPE needs can be relaxed. This FAQ will be updated throughout the Fall 2021 semester and also any PPE/safety updates will be distributed to the Emory community through the normal channels.

It is hugely important that as many of us as possible are vaccinated! That said, some people are unable to be vaccinated due to medical contraindications or strong personal objections. We also know breakthrough infections are possible even for vaccinated people, and many people in the Emory community are living with young children who cannot get vaccinated, and/or immunocompromised people. We are following the guidance of the CDC and requiring the safety precautions described in the FAQ above to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable people. 

On the other hand, there is one notable change from last year: At this time, vaccinated people are no longer required to do the frequent COVID surveillance testing that was in place in 2020-21. (Students, faculty, and staff who have received an exemption to being vaccinated are still required to be tested weekly.) Another change is that the physical distancing has been relaxed, again because our understanding of the safety needs has been updated from last year.

While this FAQ is being posted on the CFDE website, the CFDE does not claim to be an expert on COVID-19 safety. The answers above were written in collaboration with Emory’s Environmental Health and Safety Office and Associate Vice President Amir St. Clair.

This Emory video summarizes all aspects of campus safety for Fall 2021: vaccinations, testing policies, masking policies, etc.

Emory is monitoring conditions including:

  • Public health indicators: transmission rate, positive case counts in Georgia, healthcare capacity, etc.
  • Utilization of Emory’s Quarantine & Isolation space.
  • External conditions: for example, K-12 school policies on in-person or remote teaching. If Atlanta-area K-12 schools switch to remote schooling, then we know this will have a substantial impact on Emory faculty and staff.

If conditions change, there are many responses Emory can take. These responses include:

  • Adjusting our operating condition
  • Adjusting the gathering policy, the travel policy, and the visitor policy
  • Increasing our testing capacity and modifying our testing policy
  • Changing our physical distancing requirements, classroom density plans, and masking protocols

The main point is that we’re not limited to an all-or-nothing response. If there is a surge of cases on campus, we’re still doing contact tracing for 2021-22 and can track down causes (an off-campus event? a lot of asymptomatic people testing positive?) and respond accordingly.

Attendance policies are always the purview of the faculty member. But this semester we recommend against a strict attendance policy. The last thing you want is for a student who doesn’t feel well to come to class because they’re worried they’ll be penalized for non-attendance. Faculty with attendance policies on their syllabus as part of the grade should include an explicit statement about how they will relax this policy for students who are required to isolate or to quarantine. 

It is good practice is to spell out this out on the syllabus, so that all students know where the instructor stands and have an equal ability to take advantage of the flexibility as needed. Do not assume students know that they can ask for your flexibility; rather indicate in a transparent fashion that you will be flexible and how students can approach you to discuss their individual circumstances.

Emory University follows CDC guidance and definitions for close contacts. At this time, a "close contact" is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, regardless of whether the close contact was wearing a mask. Much like last year, Emory uses a contact tracing process to help identify close contacts and provide them appropriate notification and instructions to assist with follow up procedures.

Yes, this is possible. First, if you (the instructor) are experiencing symptoms of COVID, you should plan to teach remotely until your symptoms go away, and also plan to get tested – see details at the link. Second, you may be contacted by Emory’s contact tracing and informed you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. If you are vaccinated and do not have symptoms, you do not need to quarantine. You can continue normal activities, but you’ll need to get tested within 3-5 days of your exposure, and you should continue monitoring for symptoms. If you are not vaccinated, then you will need to quarantine.

Note that all of this is the same advice for students: students experiencing symptoms should not attend class in-person; vaccinated students who have been exposed can continue to come to class if they don’t have symptoms; non-vaccinated students who have been exposed will have to quarantine.

In general, we recommend that all instructors have a Zoom teaching contingency plan. The CFDE has advice, including advice about designing flexible courses and moving online.

Whether you need to be home with a quarantined child, or you yourself have to be quarantined, most of us now are Zoom experts and can pivot to online teaching as needed. You should coordinate with your department chair or school as appropriate, to let them know; but certainly taking care of your family (or yourself) should be a priority. And Zoom lets us handle these situations as needed. As noted above, the CFDE has advice, including advice about designing flexible courses and moving online.

This requires a conversation with your school – your department chair and likely a dean. While we at the CFDE can’t predict how your school will answer this question, our guess is that administrators understand we’re still in a pandemic, and that there’s a need for flexibility. At the CFDE webinar video (about at 1:06:00 of the recording), it was explained that these situations would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Over the past few months, Emory has been working with many of our primary contractor partners (specifically those that are regularly on campus with high frequency) to facilitate the same EU vaccination protocols and testing procedures among their workforce on campus.  

Multiple teams across operations, procurement, and general counsel have been engaged in this process and working with these vendors to establish a process and procedure. Contractors are provided information on testing resources and connected to the same testing vendors Emory uses, as well as the process to get vaccinated through Emory – and were provided information/access to on-campus clinics that occurred over the summer, as well as the numerous resources, videos, and materials on why getting vaccinated is important.  

We’re also in process of helping facilitate specific vaccination clinics for construction contractors and others, and have connected them to other clinics hosted in partnership across local county or community efforts (one hosted by DeKalb mobile unit recently was very successful with many of our contractors).

[this answer provided by Amir St. Clair] 

Other Teaching and Pedagogy Questions

The CFDE strongly recommends recording classes, although this is not an Emory-wide mandate. For Fall 2021 some Emory schools (RSPH in particular) are requiring recording and other schools are not. Here are the arguments.

Reasons to record your class: Some students will likely have to go to Quarantine & Isolation this upcoming year. If you record your class and routinely post the recording on Canvas, this lets all students know they can see the recording even in Q & I. We believe this is pedagogically useful even for students who attend class; many students find it helpful to have a recording to review. This is considered an important “universal design” principle. Additionally, some international students may have travel delays causing them to miss some class sessions.

How to record: While there are many ways to record a class, the CFDE notes that Zoom recordings are particularly useful as you can record to the cloud and then simply post the link on your Canvas website. Cloud recording with Zoom also automatically provides a transcript, although it’s not perfect. You can do a Zoom recording by using a document camera or iPad, screen-casting that to the students in the classroom, and simultaneously using the document camera computer or your iPad to record. Many classrooms are equipped with a document camera & computer. On the other hand, recognize that recordings should be restricted to your current class only, for privacy reasons.

Reasons not to record your class: Many instructors who will teach in-person this year expect to use a whiteboard / blackboard. And most classrooms are not set up to video record what’s happening at the board. In such situations, the instructor may feel that the pedagogical value of the board work overrides the utility of recording the class. One option might be to teach one class using the board, and the next period try screen-casting and recording, and then see which version the students prefer. Another option would be to take pictures of the board as needed, so that they can be distributed to students who must miss class (you might even recruit a student in the class to do this so that you don’t have to worry about it). In summary, an instructor with a strong personal preference for the board (and not video recording) is encouraged to do what works best for them.

Note related to student accommodations: There are some students with documented accommodation needs who will have access to an audio notetaking system; please see the Department of Accessibility Services for details. For students who desire to audio record classes outside of these documented accommodation cases, this is at the instructor’s discretion.

Other FAQ’s about recording: Please see the Spring 2021 FAQ for other questions related to recording your class (if you discuss sensitive topics; how can you use the recording; how can your students use it; syllabus language around recording; etc.)

You have questions, and we have the next best thing to answers – we can direct you to the people with answers. Tech support for classroom recording is handled at the school level. Often your school classroom IT support can work directly with you and your particular classroom to show you how recording can be done, how student audio can be picked up, etc. The CFDE has compiled classroom support contact information for all Emory schools here; this information is current as of August 2021.

Yes. You should contact your school to find out how to visit your classroom.

Using a microphone would be a good idea for larger classes: it’s harder to understand someone talking when they are wearing a face mask. You should contact classroom support people for your school to find out about acquiring a microphone. Another option is a personal amplification device. The particular solution for you will likely depend on what room(s) you’re teaching in and what your school is doing for microphones.

Yes, as long as they keep their face masks on. However, please be mindful of students who prefer physical distancing from their classmates. This may be because a student is immunocompromised or simply has a low risk tolerance. Please do not debate the students about their safety concerns, as this might put pressure on a student to disclose personal health information or other private details. There are possible alternatives for small group work that maintains physical distancing:

  • Have students bring laptops. They can then edit a Google document simultaneously in small groups, and those groups don’t even have to be physically next to each other in the classroom. This would allow them to work together without needing to talk. This obviously requires that students own and remember to bring laptops. Emory has worked out a program by which students can lease laptops if they don’t own one, with a goal toward accessibility and inclusion. However, your mileage may vary as far as students remembering to bring laptops.
  • Another laptop-based idea is to set up a Zoom session in the classroom with breakout groups and have all the students wearing headsets for their communication. While this raises the question, “why not just have my whole class online?” our group of testers felt that there was still a value of being physically present, and also we assume that the Zoom-based activity would not occupy the full class time. For example, students might discuss in small groups via Zoom but then report out to the whole class one at a time after the Zoom discussion is concluded.
  • Alternately, students could use the chat function of Zoom, which still requires laptops but doesn’t require headsets.
  • Students could be provided with small whiteboards, to share their work visually in pairs. If you’re interested in this, please contact your school to see if they can help you purchase the necessary whiteboards.
  • Small group activities could be done via Canvas before class, and then build on those via a whole-class discussion when everybody is in the classroom.
  • Consider the audio-visual needs for each setting (in-person, Zoom, etc) - you may have a student with a hearing impairment who may use a FM system, live captioning, or lip reads. Make sure to engage in a discussion about the group dynamics and ask the student what works best for them.

In-class presentations should be possible as “normal” with students using the whiteboard, blackboard, their laptop, or the classroom podium computer. As with the advice above for instructors, students giving presentations need to keep their face mask on at all times.

Some students may have a speech impairments like stuttering or vocal tics. Be mindful if you have a student with an accommodation for oral presentations. Some students need more time while others may need an alternative method of conducting a presentation like sharing a pre-recorded presentation.

There’s a visitor policy all visitors must follow. This policy applies for guest speakers, family members, or any other campus visitors. Please send this policy to potential visitors in advance!

Yes, they are currently allowed. Everybody should be wearing masks in whatever vehicle you’re taking, and if the weather permits the vehicle windows should be open. There is no specific guidance on transportation; whatever you’ve done in the past would be fine, or contact your school to find out how fieldtrips are normally handled. 

You should also consider whether the field trip is required or optional. If required, you should be mindful of student concerns. The CFDE strongly suggests creating an alternative activity that students can do if they are worried about the field trip.

Yes, handing paper over is allowed. Fomites (materials carrying infection) do not appear to be a major source of infection for COVID-19. You can always have students deposit their papers in a box. For example, the box could be near the exit of the room, and students put their paper in the box when they leave the class. If you need to do that quiz at the start of class when students aren’t exiting, you could walk around the room with the box, letting students deposit their quiz in the box.

Students may be anxious about many topics:  COVID-19, economic instability, racial injustice, and academic concerns such as your class.  They often reach out to instructors because they need a sympathetic ear, or because they are specifically anxious about your class.  In Emory’s experience, the majority of anxious students are not having clinical problems for which they need a referral.  Rather, students desire a “listening culture” where faculty hear them out, express care and concern, and offer support as needed.  Of course, in some cases, a referral to other campus services is needed, including for clinical problems.  Campus Life has put together a useful webpage summarizing how faculty can support students and which situations are mandatory reporting requirements vs. which situations are less serious.  This page gives details of how you can support students around a variety of concerns including alcohol use and abuse, financial concerns, harassment, loneliness, and family crises.  This webpage has specific information for supporting undergraduate students and for supporting graduate and professional students.

The bottom line is that in a majority of cases, Emory students who talk to you about feeling anxious will benefit most from you taking the time to listen and sympathize.

Instructors may be anxious for many of the same reasons as students – and additionally, talking with students about their stress can add stress to instructors.  We strongly recommend that you be mindful of your own self-care.  Note that the Faculty-Staff Assistance Program has a lot of support for anxious, stressed faculty, including individual and team support via telemental health services.  Please consult their website for more information.

We are always in favor of kindness, grace, and flexibility when dealing with students. The pandemic has only increased this need. You may want to think ahead – for example, see the question above about attendance policies, which suggests avoiding a strict attendance policy. That is, you can build some grace and flexibility into your syllabus.

Another example would be in a class with a moderate number of students and weekly assignments, you could allow students to turn in up to two assignments up to one week late, no questions asked. Eric Weeks uses this policy for class sizes up to about 40 students and finds it avoids having to judge excuses for late work, and allows students to use those “free late” assignments when they are otherwise busy with their other classes or personal stresses. With a moderate number of students, it is not too hard to keep track of these allowed late assignments.

Be mindful to ensure consistency across different classes and with all students. Instructors also may wish to keep a running list of the requests that they have received and how they have handled each of these. This record-keeping may be helpful in maintaining consistency, particularly for large classes where there could be several similar requests across the semester. 

A good practice is to consult with another faculty member to cross-check your decisions. For schools in which there is a department chair or Director of Undergraduate/Graduate Studies, these would be excellent people to help ensure consistency of decisions across classes. 

Keep in mind that students requesting a flexible deadline for a final exam or final project will be required to take an incomplete for the class, if such flexible deadline falls after the grades are due. Instructors should follow their normally school policy in this situation.

You can meet with students in your office if (a) everybody including you wears a face mask, and (b) individuals can maintain distance (personal space) from one another. This certainly should work for one-on-one meetings. If you anticipate larger numbers of students for office hours, we suggest Zoom or reserving an appropriate-sized classroom for your office hours. Consult with your school to learn more about reserving those spaces. Zoom office hours have the advantage of accommodating students who cannot come to campus as easily.

Students with disabilities may want to use your office hour to engage in a discussion about their accommodation plan. These discussions can occur in a variety of settings (i.e., in-person, Zoom, phone, etc). Feel free to share on your syllabus or Canvas site your preferences to begin these discussions when needed.

This situation is more challenging. We recognize that many Teaching Assistants, as well as others, are in shared office space. One option may be to schedule times for office hours in conjunction with your office mates, but that would be a solution that limits the overall usefulness of your office for you and your officemates. A better option would be to check with your department/school to see if there are any classrooms or seminar rooms that you could use for your office hours. There has been a strong effort to make efficient use of classrooms this upcoming year, which should mean there are spaces available. A final option is to hold office hours on Zoom.

Yes, this is allowed, and can be a good alternative to office hours indoors.

I’m glad you asked. Please follow this link.

Please see the Teaching Toolkit.

CFDE director Eric Weeks is the primary author of this FAQ, but he received a lot of specific wording around PPE and safety from Amir St. Clair (Associate vice president and executive director of Emory’s COVID-19 response and recovery), Robin Ruthenborg (EHSO), and Scott Thomaston (EHSO). Allison Butler (DAS) provided wording around students with disabilities and how to handle student accommodations. The CFDE web expert Allison Adams valiantly fought the web demons to get this posted on the web. Ideas contributed by many, including Jena Black (RSPH), Julia Phillips (RSPH), and Ken Anderson (Oxford). Eric apologizes if he’s forgotten anybody’s contributions and thanks many people who have asked their questions and/or given answers since March 2020.

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