As we approach the upcoming spring semester, this memorandum provides a few updates and guidelines related to teaching in classroom spaces. Several major areas are discussed in this note, including: room usage; the cleaning and locking of academic buildings; technology support; and safety considerations when teaching in classroom spaces. While the available evidence indicates that classroom transmission is rare, please note that there is no guarantee that students, faculty or staff members will not become infected with the virus in classroom spaces. We can, however, collectively use preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.
Use, Cleaning, and Locking of Rooms in Academic Buildings
This spring, rooms in academic buildings will be typically assigned to one of the following types of uses:
Signs on room doors will indicate if a room is used for teaching or as a study space for students. If a room does not have a sign, it is “off-line.”
Teaching spaces as well as study rooms will be cleaned each evening. Daily cleaning includes, among other things, wiping off desks, blackboards/whiteboards, doorknobs, and other surfaces. In addition, a designated disinfecting team will be sanitizing high-touch surfaces including doorknobs and desks at least once more during the day using electrostatic backpack or handheld sprayers. Disinfectant wipes with signage will be placed in classrooms and designated study spaces for students and faculty to wipe down their personal areas before and after use.
Classrooms will be locked after cleaning in the evening. (Student study spaces are open 24 hours but students must leave the room while it is being cleaned.) Professors who teach the first class of the day in a classroom will have to unlock the classroom. If the class is taught in person, these professors should arrive in the classroom early enough in order to avoid student groups waiting in the hallways. Classrooms will remain unlocked during the day. A professor unlocking a classroom in the morning should not lock it afterward.
It is strongly recommended that all professors who teach in person or teach remotely from a classroom make sure they have keys or a key fob to classrooms they will be using in the spring semester (which may not be their accustomed classrooms). Faculty who need a key should submit a key order through FAMIS.
Should a faculty member consider using an “offline” classroom for a special occasion (e.g., an extra meeting with students), they should reserve the room in advance by emailing Teri Richter or Katrina Wall in the Scheduling Office or by submitting a reservation through the EMS reservations system at ems.lafayette.edu. Otherwise, the room they use may not be vetted for the intended purpose and may not be on the disinfecting schedule. If a faculty member used an off-line classroom without prior reservation, they should email Teri Richter or Katrina Wall-Cheatem afterward indicating the building and room number so that the room can be cleaned and disinfected.
Beginning Monday, January 25, colleagues from Facilities Operations will begin rearranging furniture in, or in some cases, removing furniture from student study spaces as well as some classrooms. Any professors who may have questions regarding room capacities or furniture set up, are encouraged to contact Environmental, Health, and Safety Supervisor Matt Hammerstone (firstname.lastname@example.org) before the start of the semester.
Safety Considerations When Teaching
The Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines for instruction state that “[f]ace coverings should be worn by all students, faculty, and staff in all classrooms,” and “[s]tudents, faculty, and staff should maintain a safe social distance of at least 6 feet apart when feasible. This includes offices, classrooms, laboratories, hallways, restrooms, common areas, and outdoor spaces.” Therefore, without exception, all Lafayette faculty members and students should be masked and socially-distanced when in classroom spaces. Universal masking for the community is critical to our success in mitigating disease spread and therefore, even faculty or students who have been fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in all designated areas of campus. Faculty members should remind students of this in their course syllabi and discuss such guidelines with their students. As long as such guidelines are abided by, faculty members and students can move about the classroom space.
If faculty members are scheduled to teach in-person classes, it is recommended that they review the classroom setup before the spring semester in case there are any questions. Please note that Facilities staff members will pre-arrange classroom furniture according to social distancing guidelines, and that faculty members are welcome to alter these orientations to suit their teaching needs provided that they continue to adhere to the guidelines. The classroom furniture setup will vary depending on classroom size and furniture type. In some rooms furniture will be removed to allow for social distancing. In other rooms, furniture that should not be used will be pushed to the side. Other rooms will retain their normal furniture setup. They will, however, still allow for social distancing as all in-person classes have been scheduled in rooms based on each teaching space’s COVID-19 capacity. In rooms with normal furniture setups, students can and should maintain physical distancing at all times while they are in the room. Disinfectant wipes will be available in classrooms for students and faculty members to clean furniture or equipment.
Learning and Research Technologies will provide faculty with several immediate support options for smart classrooms this semester. However, LRT staff will not provide immediate in-person smart classroom support.
To get help, please do not use the Help button on the touch panel. Instead, visit https://its.lafayette.edu/classroom-help-request/ (there is a shortcut to this page on the smart classroom PC’s desktop). From there, you have the option of completing the form to report an issue that does not require immediate attention. For immediate support, please connect with LRT staff through either a live chat window or a new support phone number for this semester at (610) 330-3550.
We hope that this note has been helpful and answered at least some of your questions about classroom use and cleaning procedures that will be in place this spring. Anyone teaching in person this spring is invited to register to attend the CITLS session Teaching in Person in Spring 2021 on Wednesday, January 27th from 2 – 3:15 pm ET where they can bring further questions, share strategies, and brainstorm solutions around teaching in classroom spaces.
Tracie Addy, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning
Markus Dubischar, Associate Dean of the Curriculum
John Meier, Provost