Dear colleagues,

Two previous Provost’s Office memos focused on preparing for the spring semester generally (Jan. 8 memo) and on room use and safe teaching under “normal”, that is, undisrupted but of course physically distant conditions in in-person class settings (Jan. 22 memo). This memo addresses communication processes when a student in an in-person class has to be in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19. This may be particularly relevant in light of yesterday’s announcement that the College has moved to Level 3, and perhaps this is a good moment to also remind everyone that there is an ongoing possibility of a disruption to in-person instruction this semester, both at the level of individual students and for the campus as a whole.

Isolation/quarantine of a student

If a student is assigned to isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, the Office of Advising will notify the student’s in-person instructors via email that the student is not cleared to attend in-person classes. Notifications will also be sent to a student’s independent study or thesis faculty mentor. Please note that Bailey Health Center and the Office of Advising will not disclose specific medical information. The notification will not specify if the student has to isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test, or quarantine due to possible exposure; it will only specify if the student is not cleared or cleared to attend in-person classes. Students will be directed to contact their in-person instructors to ask about ways to participate in the course remotely for a period of time. It will be helpful that instructors also reach out to the student directly to help arrange temporary remote plans. As long as their health and symptoms allow, students should plan on continuing to participate remotely in all of their classes while in quarantine or isolation. Upon release from isolation or quarantine, a student’s in-person instructors will be notified via email that the student is cleared to resume attendance.

It is also important to note that our contact tracers are formally trained on determining primary contacts who also need to quarantine when these situations arise. Please remember that instructors are not automatically required to quarantine because a student in their in-person class is not cleared to attend in-person classes for a period of time. You will only have to quarantine if specifically instructed to do so as part of the contact tracing process.

Temporary classroom closures

There are also ramifications for classroom use if a student in an in-person class is assigned to isolation due to COVID-19.

  1. Upon receiving a notification about a student’s necessary isolation, which occurs when a student tests positive for COVID-19, Facilities Operations will lock all classrooms in which the student had scheduled in-person classes. A sign reading “Temporarily Closed” will be posted outside these classrooms. The rooms will typically remain closed for one to two days while sanitized conditions are restored.
  2. The contact tracing team will also inform the Scheduling Office right away of a classroom closure. The Scheduling Office will then immediately notify all faculty members teaching courses that the student is enrolled in. In addition, the Scheduling Office will contact all other professors who are scheduled to teach in a classroom that has to be temporarily closed, even when the student in question was not in their class.
  3. The Scheduling Office will also ask all faculty members who temporarily cannot use their regular classroom whether they want to be assigned a backup classroom. If the Scheduling Office does not receive a reply, the assumption will be that the faculty member prefers temporarily to teach remotely. In addition, the Scheduling Office will notify faculty should the backup classroom be unavailable so they can prepare for temporary remote teaching.
  4. Faculty members should let students in their in-person classes know right away that the regular classroom has become temporarily unusable and what the backup plan is.To make this process as smooth as possible, it is strongly recommended that all instructors:
      • Check their emails frequently between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. in order to stay informed about developments affecting their classrooms
      • Determine before the start of the semester what their preferred backup strategy is should a classroom become temporarily unusable (use backup classroom or teach remotely)
      • Explain the backup strategy in the syllabus of their in-person classes and ensure that all students are aware of it from the beginning
      • If feasible, let the Scheduling Office know even before the start of the semester what their preferred backup strategy will be.
  5. Once the affected classrooms have been restored to safe and sanitary conditions and are cleared for teaching, Facilities Operations will reopen the classrooms, remove the “Temporarily Closed” signs, and inform the Scheduling Office.
  6. The Scheduling Office will then pass on the information to the faculty members whose courses were affected.
  7. Faculty should then inform their students that the next class session can be held in the regular classroom again.

In closing, we once again thank everyone for the time and effort you have put into planning for the spring semester.

Markus Dubischar, Associate Dean of the Curriculum
John Meier, Provost
Mike Olin, Dean of Advising and Co-Curricular Programs

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