Frequently Asked Questions - Faculty
Fall 2021 On-Ground Teaching FAQ
We recognize that returning to on-ground teaching amidst the ongoing pandemic is a big change for many faculty members. While we’ve learned much from teaching on-ground courses over the last few semesters, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and, in turn, so do our processes for maintaining safety for all as we continue to serve our community. This document offers answers to common questions that will help you continue providing high-quality educational experiences in the classroom.
College leadership meets regularly to review county and state infection counts, vaccination levels, CDC guidelines and recommendations from the Ohio Board of Health, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the offices of the Ohio governor and Cleveland mayor. Visit tri-c.edu/coronavirus to stay up to date on College policies, procedures and communications related to COVID-19.
- Should we continue to clean our own instructional work stations in the classroom/lab? Yes, we encourage faculty to wipe down the desk or instructor station before and after class and to ask students to do the same in their work areas (desks, chairs, equipment). Cleaning supplies, including wipes, are readily available in or near each classroom/lab.
- Can we use wipes on computer keyboards, microscopes, etc.? You may use wipes on keyboards and mice. If appropriate, please use designated wipes provided for sensitive equipment, such as microscopes. Check with your lab technician or associate dean if you have questions.
- What do I do if I can’t find supplies or they aren’t available? The College strives to replace cleaning supplies as needed; however, if you can’t find what you need, please alert your associate dean or campus president’s office. Metro faculty will be given codes to open lockers used to store extra supplies. Some campuses are providing a bag of masks and cleaning supplies to each faculty member for personal use. Take your “go-to” bag with you to your classroom(s). Extra masks are also available in the deans’ offices.
- How often are classrooms/labs “deep” cleaned? Cleaning happens every night. Extra cleaning is performed in areas in which COVID-19 exposures are reported.
- How can I use active teaching strategies, especially those that require small-group work? Active teaching strategies that engage your students are important; however, it may be necessary to alter your strategies to maintain 3-foot distancing. Check out this reference guide by Jennifer Baumgartner, associate professor at Louisiana State University, for ideas.
- Can I wear a face shield instead of a mask so students can hear me better? No — all faculty, staff and students must wear a mask inside Tri-C buildings. A face shield may be used in addition to a mask, but not as a substitute. We understand that wearing a mask can make teaching difficult. You may choose to request a personal amplification device (microphone) from your campus Learning Commons to use throughout the semester. Faculty and staff may remove their masks in their closed offices or if their workspaces are at least 6 feet from another person (measured nose to nose or chest to chest).
- How should I handle students who bring food and/or beverages into class/lab? The College’s COVID-19 protocols forbid students from eating or drinking in the classroom/lab because they would need to remove their mask. Students may remove their mask to eat and drink in the cafeteria or common areas, but they must put it back on immediately. You may consider providing breaks during class so students can move to common areas to eat or drink.
- I teach ESL, and my students need to see my face to learn correct techniques. I also need to see their faces. You might want to consider using clear masks that allow others to see your lips and tongue; however, based on some campus trials, they may fog. Speak with your associate dean to purchase these masks for your class as appropriate.
- I know we can’t ask students if they’re vaccinated, but can I ask them if they’ve signed the Statement of Personal Responsibility or ask them about symptoms or exposure? As is the case with questions about vaccination status, faculty should not ask students about exposure or symptoms. There is no need to ask them about the Statement of Personal Responsibility, as all students are required to complete it prior to registering for classes.
- Does the College require COVID-19 vaccination? Not at this time; however, we continue to encourage all students, staff and faculty to get vaccinated. The College routinely hosts testing and vaccination clinics and has begun to offer incentives such as T-shirts and $10 Stomp Card credit.
- Why 3-foot distancing in the classroom/lab but 6 feet everywhere else? We are constantly monitoring and consistently following CDC guidelines. Given required masking, air filters and the Statement of Personal Responsibility, the College decided the K-12 guideline of 3 feet in the classroom is safe for fall semester. Open spaces such as hallways, common areas and recreational areas lend themselves congregation, hence the 6-foot guideline. Faculty can feel confident that each area has been thoroughly reviewed and that furniture and seating have been set to meet the 3-foot distancing requirement. Compliance and Risk Management measured classroom and lab areas using a chest-to-chest or nose-to-nose standard, and excess furniture has been removed or taped off. Despite these efforts, furniture does get knocked around and inadvertently moved. We suggest that you begin each class session by reminding students to separate and maintain distance. Signage will be posted to remind individuals not to move furniture.
- How were course caps adjusted? Course caps were adjusted this summer based on updated distancing guidelines. Many classes went back to full, pre-pandemic capacity depending on the style of furniture in the area.
- Will faculty need to report contact tracing through the attendance tracking system? We are no longer asking faculty to use the attendance tracking system to report student illness or COVID-19 infection. Faculty, staff and students who contract COVID-19 should email email@example.com for instructions. If a student discloses COVID-19 infection to a faculty member, the faculty member should forward the information on to Risk Management at the above email address. It is not a privacy violation.
- How do I meet with students during office hours? Continue to use your office for on-ground student meetings as long as the space allows for 6-foot distancing. You can request plexiglass if it would make you more comfortable. If there isn’t enough room in your office, use common areas with light traffic or a conference room. Encourage virtual visits from your office, even if you offer on-ground hours.
- Will the testing centers be open for make-up and SAS-approved exams? No. The testing centers currently offer virtual placement services only. Faculty may schedule classrooms to monitor make-up exams. Student Accessibility Services can accommodate some proctoring requests for SAS students.
- Student comments on Facebook and in other settings suggest that they’re actively avoiding instructors that use ProctorU. What can we do about this? Some students have shared that they find live proctoring intrusive when taking tests at home. Faculty can respond to this concern by choosing the Review+ option, in which a live proctor checks the student in and artificial intelligence takes over.
- Are ProctorU stations available for student use on campus? Yes, several ProctorU testing stations are available on each campus. Students must reserve them via the Learning Commons webpage.
- I see many students wearing masks under their noses. What should I do? What if a student refuses to wear a mask properly or follow distancing guidelines? COVID-19 policies and procedures are considered College rules under the Student Conduct Code. As such, issues pertaining to students following these policies and procedures are handled through the student conduct process under the direction of each campus’ Office of Student Affairs. You may ask anyone on-site to wear their mask correctly (over the mouth and nose) or to maintain safe distancing. In a classroom, treat this situation as you would any other conduct issue. See below for suggested tactics. We are reviewing additional approaches and will share information soon.
- Consider opening your class with a general explanation of the College’s masking and social distancing requirements.
- Ask a student directly, even in class, to comply. Our experience is that most will.
- If a student refuses or becomes belligerent, you may ask them to leave your class. Submit a Student Concerns Report (BIT) as soon as possible so the Office of Student Affairs can intervene.
- If a student will not leave your classroom/lab after repeating your request, you may choose to leave the classroom (or dismiss class) and call Campus Police at 216-987-4325. In our experience, issues rarely rise to this level; however, if they do, the College will support your professional judgement on how best to handle the situation.
- An overview of the student conduct process and a link to the Student Concerns Report is available on the Student Conduct webpage.
- What if I don’t want to submit a Student Concerns Report? Without a Student Concerns Report, the incident may never come to the attention of Student Affairs. As such, the student may not be held accountable for violating the Student Conduct Code as it relates to COVID-19 policies and procedures — making it more difficult to address future non-compliance. Reporting non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols is beneficial for your classroom and is critical to maintaining on-campus safety.
- Have any students actually been held responsible for non-compliance? Yes. While student non-compliance with COVID-19 policies and procedures has been limited, students at nearly every campus have been held accountable for instances of non-compliance.
- What do I do if I arrive early for my class and students are congregating in the hall waiting for another class to end? Please ask everyone to adhere to the 6-foot distancing guideline as best they can.
- I’m concerned about contracting COVID-19 on campus and infecting my children at home. We understand that returning to campus can be scary. The College has put protocols in place that are designed to keep you safe and healthy. We regularly monitor COVID-19 rates and related information at the local, state and national levels. We currently offer clinics and incentives to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We’re also using a multi-layered approach to keep everyone safe, which includes the Statement of Personal Responsibility, required masking and distancing, plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizer stations and bipolar ionizer air filtration systems throughout all campuses and sites.
- Can I change the modality of my course if I have to quarantine or become infected but am not too ill to teach my on-ground class(es)? The student is our priority. This includes maintaining the integrity of the modality they chose. Generally, if a faculty member becomes ill and is unable to teach (regardless of modality), we would first seek a sub, and the faculty member would need to use sick time. In the case of an on-ground course, if a faculty member needs to quarantine but is not ill, we would first seek a sub. If the course is hybrid or fully online, we ask that the faculty member consult with their dean. A decision will then be made based on what is best for the students and the faculty member.
- What if a student becomes ill or needs to quarantine? As we are still in the midst of a pandemic, we ask that you offer as much flexibility as possible while maintaining academic integrity. Faculty should be prepared for this situation and should offer online assignments or make-up opportunities as needed. Some programs may need to continue offering make-up lab and clinical opportunities in order for some students to complete requirements. There will be no changes to withdraw dates or the Pass/No Pass procedure at this time.
- Will the College seek ODHE approval to offer science labs online? The Ohio Department of Higher Education is currently providing some flexibility for natural science lab courses that are unable to meet in person; however, the College feels that on-ground labs can be offered safely this semester.
- What communications have students received about COVID-19 protocols? Student communications from March 2020 to the present are available on the Student Resources tab of the College’s COVID-19 webpage. The page also includes links to Student Town Hall recordings from April 2020 to the present.
- Do students have to acknowledge the College’s COVID-19 policies and procedures? Yes. Students, employees and visitors alike are held to the Statement of Personal Responsibility. It must be renewed each semester via my Tri-C space (students and employees) or upon each visit to campus (visitors).
- What happens if a student doesn’t acknowledge the Statement of Personal Responsibility? You shouldn’t run into this issue, as students are unable to register for classes or change their registration status via my Tri-C space without acknowledging the statement.
- How do I know if a student has a medical or religious exemption that permits them to forgo wearing a mask? Students requesting a medical exemption to the mask policy must work through the College’s Student Accessibility Services office. Their request will be handled like any other accommodation. Those requesting a religious exemption must work through Student Affairs. We will soon have a process in place to document these exemptions in One Record. Until then, if you encounter a student not wearing a mask, and they indicate they have an exemption, you may ask them for documentation. If they don’t have it with them, please give them the benefit of the doubt and verify after class through SAS or Student Affairs. There are very few students with exemptions on file.
- What should I do if I observe or experience behavior that makes me uncomfortable and doesn’t adhere to COVID-19 guidelines as I understand them? If something doesn’t look right to you, or if you are uncomfortable, contact your dean or campus president immediately.
- What should I do if a student observes or experiences behavior that makes them uncomfortable and doesn’t adhere to COVID-19 guidelines? Encourage them to report their concerns to Student Affairs.