Guidance for in-person faculty who must be away from class for reasons related to COVID-19

The following guidance was shared with all faculty and staff via email on Sept. 3.

How should a Faculty Member handle seated classroom management if they: 1) test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, 2) are directed to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19, or 3) must care for a family member who is ill or in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19? 

It has always been the case that faculty sometimes become ill or have family members who require care. Such situations may temporarily prevent the faculty member from meeting in person with their students.  Short-term absences due to COVID-19 are no different from the sorts of short-term absences that we have always navigated. As per the Faculty Handbook:

“A faculty member who is absent from class for any reason must notify the department chair in advance of the absence. This will make it possible for the chair to fulfill his or her responsibility to ensure that there is proper coverage for the class. However, the faculty member is normally expected to arrange for make-up sessions or alternative content delivery for classes missed because of absence due to circumstances other than illness.”

“Alternate content delivery” might include such things as arranging a guest speaker or giving students a research assignment. It can also include making effective use of Blackboard, our campus learning management system. During a short-term absence, a faculty member might, for example, use Blackboard to share a recorded lecture, post a film or video for students to watch, require student participation in a discussion board, ask students to complete an online quiz, or meet with students in real time via web conferencing.

It is not necessary to request a “change of modality” in order to make use of Blackboard during a short-term absence. Blackboard is always available to supplement any seated course. Faculty do need to be attentive to the accessibility of content posted online (including in Blackboard). Faculty can consult the Remote Resources webpage for information about accessibility requirements and tools.

Please do keep in mind that faculty should inform the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion if they are out due to illness, isolation, or quarantine related to COVID-19.