DATE: August 21, 2020
TO: All Teaching Faculty
FROM: Jeff Bowman, Provost
Sheryl Hemkin, Association Provost
Ted Mason, Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Drew Kerkhoff, Associate Provost
SUBJECT: Start of Semester, Fall 2020
As some eager students begin to return to campus and others plan their return to virtual classrooms, we in the Provost’s office want to review some things to keep in mind as the semester begins.
Pandemic conditions have changed many aspects of course management, and the following memo is meant to clarify applicable policies and provide resources for making sure all courses are conducted in compliance with public health safeguards and Kenyon’s Return to Campus Protocols, while maintaining the academic standards laid out in the Course Catalog and Faculty Handbook.
We also encourage you to consult President Decatur’s recent Update for Employees and for Staff and Faculty Caregivers, as well as VP Bonham’s Information for Students in Residence.
CREDIT HOURS AND ACADEMIC CALENDAR
All courses should continue to adhere to Kenyon’s Credit Hour Policy, described in the Course Catalog. In keeping with federal guidelines, the policy stipulates 4 instructional hours per week (3 in class + 1 additional instructional hour) for a full-time, 0.5 unit course. Any alteration of class meeting times, in addition to minimizing conflicts for students, should continue to adhere to this standard. Proportional standards apply to 0.25 and 0.13 unit courses.
After Thanksgiving Break, instruction will resume on November 30 and continues remotely in all courses through the end of the classes on December 9 (1.5 weeks). Instructors are encouraged to think creatively about how to best use this period in the context of their course. However, they may not “bank” additional instructional hours early in the semester to replace this remote period. Overloading students with work from one course is unfair both to the student and to the student’s other instructors. Instructors who believe they have exceptional circumstances should consult with an Associate Provost.
CLASSROOM OCCUPANCY AND HEALTH SAFETY
Official seating capacity will be posted outside of each classroom space, and furniture should be arranged and/or labeled to ensure proper social distancing during class. All academic buildings will only be open from 7:00AM to 1:00PM.
In-person classrooms, as the main gathering points on campus, represent a serious health safety challenge. Mitigating the risks involved requires strict adherence to all health safety practices (i.e., masks, distancing, symptom checking). These rules should be reinforced by faculty in a way that is patient and humane, but also consistent and firm. Repeated, intentional violations of public health standards are grounds for disciplinary action and should be reported via a Progress Report.
Cloth face coverings (masks) are REQUIRED in all classroom spaces, even when distanced. Students or employees without masks MUST leave the class to retrieve their mask from their room or office. SASS will notify faculty if a student in their class has an accommodation that requires modification of the mask policy, e.g., the wearing of a face shield by a student or instructor. There will be a limited number of disposable face coverings available in administrative offices for visitors to campus, but faculty, staff, and students are expected to provide their own masks.
Instructors may also request confirmation that students have checked their temperature, symptoms, and exposure, either verbally or by displaying confirmation from their phone app, and students unable or unwilling to produce the confirmation can be dismissed from class.
It is imperative that instructors end their class sessions on time. Many of our new, non-traditional classroom spaces are spread across campus, and we need to ensure time for disinfection (see below) and the safe and orderly exit of students for their next class. After-class consultation and discussion between the instructor and individual students should take place outside of the classroom, and should adhere to requirements for masks and social distancing.
So far, Everlywell has been processing COVID-19 tests in a speedy fashion. It is nevertheless possible that the results of some tests will be delayed and/or will not be conclusive. Students who have not yet received conclusive, negative results should not attend class in person. Faculty should know that there is a possibility that some students will thus be unable to attend the first few days of in-person classes.
Kenyon does not have sufficient housekeeping staff to clean classrooms after every meeting. Kenyon’s Pandemic Operations Plan recommends that instructors enlist students to help disinfect desktops and other high-touch surfaces at the end of each class session. It may be useful to designate a student that does not have a class directly afterward to be the “disinfector” after each class. That person can quickly spray down the desk surfaces without causing crowding even if another class is entering. Similarly, the instructor should disinfect AV and computer equipment they used, in order to protect their colleagues teaching later in the day. To facilitate ventilation, if the room has an exterior door or windows, consider keeping them open during the time in which students are entering and exiting the room.
Each classroom should be stocked with a spray bottle of surface disinfectant. The peroxide-based surface disinfectant needs to be on the surface for one minute. Spray the surface (not electronics) and let it stand for one minute before wiping, or just let it evaporate, which further limits potential contact for the disinfector.
If possible, instructors should bring their own laptop and connect to the AV using the Apple TV or the provided HDMI cable, this will minimize the use of shared equipment. If the shared computer (or other electronic equipment in the room) is used and needs to be disinfected, be prepared and bring a “prep pad,” a prepackaged alcohol wipe available in your AA’s office. To disinfect, open up the packaged towelette and gently wipe across the keyboard. The Prep Pads are not meant to be used for large scale electronics disinfection throughout the room. More thorough instructions for electronics disinfection are available from the LBIS website. If you have a need for this, contact Anita Hooper at LBIS (email@example.com).
If supplies of spray disinfectant or prep pads get low, refills can be requested with a Maintenance work order or by calling (740) 427-5129.
CLASS ATTENDANCE AND ENGAGEMENT
The pandemic also forces us to reconsider how we treat class attendance and gauge student engagement both in our class meetings and in our courses more generally. In the case of in-person classes, students must be clear that they are not permitted to come to class if they have tested positive, or are symptomatic or in quarantine due to potential exposure. Instructors will receive an email from the Dean of Students’ Office notifying them of the student’s absence. In order to ensure compliance with this policy, it is important that instructors provide explicit communication in their syllabus that students will not be penalized for such required absences.
For remote students, instructors should also be aware that the terms of engagement (e.g., the ability to attend synchronous sessions or keep video or audio on continuously ) may be impacted by a wide variety of issues, from unreliable internet or time zone differences, to privacy issues at home or acute anxiety. To ensure equity of access, instructors should be clear about their expectations and invite students to consult privately with them to navigate the limitations of their particular situation. For both in-person and remote situations, ongoing open communication with students is key to defining what represents attendance, participation, and engagement with the course.
STUDENT INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANTS
Throughout the semester, many courses may be accommodating both in-person and remote attendance, whether by design or as necessitated by the pandemic. If instructors require a student Instructional Assistant to help manage in-class technology for courses involving in-person and remote students simultaneously, they may contact Heidi Norris in the Career Development Office to submit a job description and advertise the opportunity to students. Departmental student employment funds should be used first, but Chairs should contact the Provost's office to discuss additional funding if necessary.
RESIDENCY AND ACCOUNTING
If in the coming academic year, you will be working remotely AND will be working from outside of the State of Ohio, our friends in Accounting need to know so that we can make sure that we are complying with all relevant state tax laws. The amount of time that you will be working out of state during the academic year will also be important to note. If this is your situation, at your earliest convenience, please let VP for Finance Todd Burson (firstname.lastname@example.org) know that you'll be working remotely, in which state you will be residing, and the length of time.
TECHNOLOGY AND REMOTE LEARNING
Now is a good time to check your technology at home. You will want to ensure that your home wifi is adequate to whatever contingency plans you have made in the event you have to move an in-person class to a remote format.
If you have further questions about these policies or any related issues, please consult with Associate Provosts Sheryl Hemkin or Drew Kerkhoff.
We appreciate the work you have all done is preparing for classes in diverse formats and, more generally, for the return of students to campus. Thank you and best wishes for the start of the new semester!