Frequently Asked Questions: Fall 2022 Teaching

Class Recording Advice and FAQ

Please consult the Emory Forward website  for general questions about campus activities, travel policies, COVID testing procedures, and general COVID-19 protocols. The CFDE FAQ below focuses primarily on teaching-related questions.

Answers to questions marked with an asterisk (*) have been updated as of August 23, 2022.

Top Questions for Fall 2022

Emory is concerned that there may be a surge of students needing to quarantine or isolate during the first two weeks of classes, as there was in Fall 2021. You should anticipate a higher number of absences than usual during these first two weeks.

For undergraduate classes, this may be compounded by the increase of the add-drop-swap period which now lasts the first 14 days after the start of the semester. Please see the next questions for how you might respond.

One way would be to recruit a student note-taker for each class period, and get a scan of their notes. (That is, a student already taking your class – it is usually easy to get volunteers.) These notes can be provided to students who are absent. This has an advantage in that such notes may capture any discussion that occurs. 

An obvious second method would be to provide your own notes and/or slides to students who are absent. Or, take photographs of the whiteboard/blackboard before you erase, and make these photos available.

Another possibility is recording your classes. For information about how to do this, please see our Class Recording Advice and FAQ. This has some extra advantages, for example it can be pedagogically useful for students to review even if they’ve been attending class.

Q & A with Amir St. Clair, Associate Vice President and Executive Director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery

As of August 5, 2022, there is not a plan to require a gateway or entry test for students before arriving to campus. 

Yes, students will be strongly encouraged to complete a pre-entry test prior to their arrival and told to stay home if they test positive or are symptomatic. Students will also have access to asymptomatic testing through Emory upon arrival.

As of August 5, 2022, there is not a plan to require asymptomatic testing this fall. All campus members do have access to free asymptomatic testing through Emory – which can be accessed on-demand throughout the week as needed.

Students are required to notify the university should they test positive, and then are placed into three different types of isolation categories: a) Isolating off-campus (non-residential students); b) Isolate-in-place within their residence hall; c) Move to separate on-campus isolation housing (intended only for residential students at higher risk). Emory has designated an on-campus house for the separate isolation housing space, which can accommodate 30 students at a time.

Emory continues to follow CDC guidelines for isolation protocols. Students will isolate for a minimum of 5 days, at which time they will be assessed to determine if they can end isolation. If they do not meet CDC criteria for leaving isolation, they will continue to isolate until CDC guidelines advise (typically somewhere between 7-10 days).

At this time, masking is optional in most indoor spaces across Emory’s campuses, including classrooms. However, clinical spaces, select research facilities, and our shuttles continue to require masks. Campus members are encouraged to make masking decisions based on their preference and level of risk; however, Emory does continue to require individuals to follow CDC criteria for masking as it relates to exposure (i.e. exposed vaccinated must wear mask for 10 days post-exposure). Three-ply surgical masks are made available across all campus facilities.

All campus members are encouraged to continue monitoring their symptoms daily. There is no requirement or active tracking of this practice.

Emory will continue to provide contact tracing and cluster investigation services during the fall, however at a much reduced scale. Many of the processes will move to a self-service model where close contacts will be notified through automated messaging and provided instructions to follow – however, no formal oversight will continue to manage those identified as close contacts or exposed. Cluster investigation teams will continue to review index case and contact tracing data to help determine any additional measures to enact across certain groups or cohorts, but services have been scaled back and thresholds have been adjusted to align with current response efforts across the university.

In-Person Teaching: When a Student Has Covid

  • Emory University has recently updated its COVID-19 Guidelines. You can find the latest for faculty, staff and students here. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will self-report through the student absence self-certification form and instructors will be notified via email. Please visit the Emory Forward website for the most update to date information about COVID-19 policies and resources.
  • 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.

All campus members do have access to free asymptomatic testing through Emory – which can be accessed on-demand throughout the week as needed, no appointment necessary. Information about testing is hereThis includes both asymptomatic testing information and testing for those with symptoms.  The procedure is slightly different for students and faculty/staff, so please consult this webpage for more information.

There is a quarantine/isolation process, described above (“Will you require infected students to live in isolation housing…?”). 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. 

If you are identified as a close contact by contact tracing, then yes, you will be informed. In other situations, the privacy of the student means you may not be informed, although in practice Emory’s experience is that most students self-disclose this information to the instructor.

As per the previous question, if some or all of your students are identified as a close contact by contact tracing, then yes, they will be informed.  As the instructor, please do not inform the class yourself, as this creates difficulties for contact tracing and violates the privacy of your students.  Note that Emory pays close attention to classes where more than one student tests positive, and implements full-class COVID testing when deemed necessary (including the instructor).

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.

PPE Questions

As of August 3, 2022, masks are optional in most classrooms (although not in clinical settings). This PPE guidance may change if the COVID-19 prevalence in Georgia increases. Any changes will be communicated to Emory through the routine communication channels.

As of August 3, 2022, masks are optional in most classrooms (although not in clinical settings). This PPE guidance may change if the COVID-19 prevalence in Georgia increases. Any changes will be communicated to Emory through the routine communication channels.

You cannot require this, but you can certainly explain your concerns to the class, and request that they wear masks if they are willing.

Other Safety Questions

The CFDE will update this FAQ if/when safety requirements change.  As has been true throughout the pandemic, Emory has a lot of options for how we respond to new information (such as the decision to delay in-person classes back in January 2022). The Emory people who oversee the campus response to the pandemic are frequently consulting with their colleagues at other institutions, including schools that have seen more severe COVID outbreaks. As this FAQ is updated, we will flag the questions that have revised answers.

There are no physical distancing requirements at Emory for Fall 2022. Thus, as was true for Spring 2022, classrooms will be at full seating this semester.

This is because we have a largely vaccinated community, 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.

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.

Yes, unless you are teaching in a room with signage stating otherwise.

No, you cannot. It violates student privacy to ask this question. It also sets up a tension between you and any students who aren’t vaccinated. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

Emory has helped contractors access vaccinations and create procedures to support testing, and has worked with these agencies to implement important COVID-19 safety measures among their employees and vendors – and we will continue to do so.

[this answer provided by Amir St. Clair] 

No, you cannot, for the same reason that you can’t require students to not wear a mask in your personal office. Emory’s principle is that masking is at the discretion of the individual. If you are uncomfortable with a mask-optional policy in your office, you are welcome to hold office hours via Zoom. That may in fact have the advantage of helping students attend office hours without having to come to campus.

Yes, as long as you nonetheless let them know that this is at their personal discretion: they have the right to not wear a mask in the classroom, just as much as they have a right to wear a mask in the classroom.

Some instructors have a personal health reason they are being cautious, or a family-related health reason. If you wish, you are welcome to share this with your class, but this is entirely up to you. Some Emory faculty have found that even making these personal disclosures does not succeed in convincing an entire class to wear masks. On the other hand, you can certainly discuss this topic without making any personal disclosures. For example, the more of us who mask indoors, the safer we all are – including people who cannot get vaccinated, people with severe underlying health conditions for whom COVID is more dangerous, etc. The more of us wearing masks indoors, the safer people can be without having to disclose their personal circumstances.

All that being said, please recognize that you should avoid an adversarial relationship between you and your students should they choose differently than you regarding masking. This is equally true whether you are for or against masking. Our best advice is that you can talk to your class and give them whatever reasoning you wish to share, but do not expect the entire class to agree with you; and therefore do not set up an expectation that disagreements will be a problem.

Emory continues to have event and gathering guidelines that outline procedures for how event organizers and sponsoring units can conduct safe and healthy activities at Emory. For events over 250+ attendees, Emory also has specific guidelines for these types of large events where there may be heightened risk, to include recommended procedures for location space, length of event, food and beverage use, etc. 

In addition, Emory continues to have a visitor policy, and recommends that all event organizers share this policy in advance of an event. Emory also continues to utilize cluster investigation teams, and may make recommendations to modify events based on mitigation efforts identified through this process.

To help support healthy activities on campus, Emory also continues to have vaccination requirements for campus members, wide testing availability, positive test notification protocols, processes to notify close contacts, isolation procedures, cleaning protocols that have retrofitted filters and air filtration systems, free masks in campus facilities, and ADA accommodation or high-risk support – all of which is publicly posted and available for review on Emory Forward.  Given the mitigation layers in place, lessons learned over the past few years and adopting best practices, recommended event guidelines, and our continued campaign to educate the campus community on ways to mitigate risk, we believe these measures continue to help limit transmission and promote a vibrant campus environment.

  • Student could be doing background reading for their project.
  • Student could write: for example, the introduction for a future paper
  • Student might be able to do remote data analysis
  • Laboratories could allow remote students to join in group meetings via Zoom
  • In general we advise the grading to be based mostly on the work done when the student is not sick, so as to avoid a recovering student from feeling pressure to overwork and thus reverse their recovery
  • Of course if the student is very sick and unable to work, they should focus on recovery and not worry about 599/799. Students should consider requesting a leave of absence if they need longer absences.

[Answer written with advice from the Laney Graduate School.]

Questions about Teaching Online

Likely a mix of both.
Asynchronous content has an advantage of accessibility. Some students may not have broadband internet. Some may be trying to access your online course materials with only a cell phone on a limited data plan. Some of them will be in different time zones, some may have taken a part-time job. Some may be dealing with ill family members or their own illness. For these reasons, the CFDE recommends considering asynchronous activities for your course as much as possible: activities that can be done whenever the student has time. For example, replacing a timed test with an open-book take-home style exam that has a due date. Off-campus students shouldn’t be required to show up at a specific time for anything.
That being said, students in general crave some synchronous interaction with their faculty, as mentioned frequently on an April 2020 survey of Emory students. Likewise, some classes rely heavily on oral interactions, language classes being an obvious example. Having one synchronous class session a week is quite reasonable. For the synchronous classes, please refer to the above FAQ’s on classroom recording. Other options are to have synchronous office hours, or make it part of an assignment for students to meet synchronously with a partner or group of students.

With most students being off campus, it is important for instructors to be flexible with students. 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.

Further advice on when you should say yes and when you should say no is at this link.

During Fall term 2020, close to a thousand Emory students took classes from outside of the U.S. Students participating in online education from abroad face unique hardships that require thoughtful approaches and understanding. The numbers for Spring 2021 are expected to be similar. The following factors provide useful context to consider when accounting for the specific needs of this group. This information has been provided by the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives. Please contact with questions.

Challenges may include:

Barriers to Travel to the US
  • Visa application processes have been disrupted by policy changes and by public health measures
  • The US has imposed entry requirements that prohibit most foreign nationals from entering the US following recent stays in certain places abroad, including China. 
  • For students who are able to enter the US, reasonable concern about the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the US and in Georgia is causing some students to remain abroad.
  • Many students have unreliable internet connections, incompatible systems, or other technology-related limitations.
  • Accessing materials from abroad may not be possible given restrictions on certain sources
    • Google and YouTube are not available in China
    • Course and library materials for research assignments may be difficult to acquire
  • Emory is exploring hiring a vendor to offer IT services to alleviate some technical challenges.
    • Regulations about internet use (in particular, restrictions on the use of VPNs) and new US restrictions on the use of Chinese-made communications hardware have raised legal issues that the university is evaluating.
  • Participation in online classes that address topics considered sensitive in other countries can create risk for students in those countries, particularly when policies that censor internet content exist. 
  • Some students report dropping off calls or blanking out their images when courses address sensitive topics.
    • This concern is particularly acute for students in China, including Hong Kong.
  • Classes that include content with potentially sensitive topics may preclude students from participating fully.
Time differences 
  • Most of Emory’s international students are from China, India, or South Korea.
  • Time zone differences may limit course selections or pose challenges to regular attendance.

When students studying from locations abroad encounter these issues, our community should extend compassion and understanding. The obstacles they face to pursuing their studies are substantial, and it is essential they know that Emory is sensitive to the challenges that the pandemic has created for them.

Possible approaches  
  • Recognize these challenges openly in class
  • Include a statement acknowledging these issues in the course syllabus or other class materials
  • Allow students to be logged into classroom activities using only their first name or other signifier to retain anonymity
  • Develop alternate ways for students to access materials if standard methods are not available
  • Incorporate flexibility in attendance policies for issues related to time zone differences and/or sensitive content

Please contact to get advice.

Yes. Both you and those students would have to be cleared for returning to campus. Be mindful of fairness for students who are unable to meet with you in person, whether because they live away from Atlanta or have underlying health conditions preventing them from taking a chance on coming to campus. If you provide opportunities for some students to meet with you in person, make sure there are plenty of opportunities for other students to meet with you online. For the portion of the semester in which we are online, keep in mind the whole point of online classes is to keep the campus population density low, so avoid having a large crowd of your students come meet you on campus.

Other Teaching and Pedagogy Questions

The CFDE strongly recommends recording classes, although this is not an Emory-wide mandate. Please see our Class Recording Advice and FAQ, which explains this recommendation and gives advice on how to do recordings.  

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. The CFDE will get this updated by mid-August 2022.

Yes, they are currently allowed, if they are essential for experiential learning, as per the travel policy (available at this website).

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.

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.

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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