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Important Reminders for Faculty
I am writing to you with reminders about two public health issues that have been the topic of questions received by the Office of Academic Affairs:
- Students missing class due to illness and requests for excuse notes;
- Masking in the classroom;
- Additional FAQ.
Missing Class Due to Illness
We have been informed that the Barnes Center is receiving a steady stream of requests from students for official notes indicating that they have missed class due to illness. As we have noted in the Syllabus Reminders and on the Academic Affairs website, medical staff (health, counseling, etc.) no longer provide excuse notes for students. This policy has been in place since 2018. When Barnes Center staff determine it is medically necessary to remove a student from classes, whether COVID-related or non-COVID-related, they will coordinate with the Dean of Students Office case management staff to provide notification to faculty through Orange Success. For absences lasting less than 48 hours, students are expected to discuss academic arrangements directly with their faculty.
As part of the Stay Safe Pledge, students agree not to attend in-person classes or participate in activities if they are exhibiting any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, are awaiting diagnostic test results or test positive for the virus. What this means in practice is that some students are going to miss class under circumstances where, in the absence of COVID-19, they might otherwise attend class. I know this can make managing your classes difficult, especially around the dates of exams and major assignments. Nevertheless, for the sake of our overall public health effort, we must not incentivize students to attend class when they are sick. I ask you to do your best to work with students who are absent from your classes due to illness. Your cooperation helps encourage students to follow responsible public health behaviors.
Students who enter isolation due to a confirmed COVID infection will not be permitted to attend in-person class sessions. Instructors will receive a notification from the Dean of Students Office that the student is unable to attend class. Due to HIPAA regulations, this notification will not indicate the student’s specific diagnosis. The Dean of Students Office is working with the Office of the Registrar and the Barnes Center to generate these notifications as quickly as possible.
If you receive notification that a student will be missing class for an extended period, you are required to provide the student an opportunity to keep up with the class so that they can rejoin the class at the end of their period of absence. You are free to do this in any manner that is appropriate to your class.
Masking in the Classroom
We are currently in the COVID Level RED with regard to masking requirements. Faculty and instructors are empowered to require students to observe proper mask wearing in the classroom.
Instructors and teaching assistants are invited to review updated tips from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and the Dean of Students Office for setting and managing expectations in instructional spaces, managing difficult behavior and awareness of the role that stress or trauma may play in that behavior. Instructors may ask students to leave their class and should report any belligerent, aggressive or violent behavior to Community Standards (formerly the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities) at email@example.com.
Answers to frequently asked questions on contact tracing, masking and other information for faculty and instructors can be found on the Stay Safe website. If you have questions about what to do if a student in your class tests positive, please refer to the COVID-19 Response Checklists.
Thanks again for all that you are doing and please reach out if you have additional questions that are not answered on the Stay Safe site by submitting this form to the Office of Academic Affairs.
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs