Message to Faculty Regarding Spring Medical Accommodations

MEMORANDUM 

TO: All Faculty, Graduate Student Instructors, Deans, Department Chairs/Heads, and GPDs

FROM: John McCarthy, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

DATE: November 12, 2021

SUBJECT: Requests for Spring 2022 Medical Accommodations – December 3rd Deadline

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Dear Colleagues,

I am grateful to each and every one of you for the part you played in helping to keep our campus safe and healthy throughout this past semester. Our return to face-to-face instruction was successful in large part by your individual action such as getting vaccinated, wearing a face mask, and complying with public health protocols.Data from the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) reflects a consistently low rate of positive cases on our campus and that no instructors have tested positive as the result of classroom exposure. 

We continue to expect that students will have in-person classes for the vast majority of their courses. Accommodations for remote teaching that were approved for the Fall 2021 semester will expire.  Any new or continued accommodations will require an application for the Spring 2022 semester following the same process that was employed for the Fall semester. With increased vaccinations, booster shots, low positivity rates, and vaccination availability for some children under 12, the needs for pandemic-related accommodations have diminished. 

Requests for Medical Accommodations - December 3, 2021 Deadline

Faculty and graduate student employees seeking an accommodation for their own medical condition should complete the request form here. Faculty requests will be evaluated by the Accessible Workplace office in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. Graduate employee requests will be evaluated by Disability Services. These offices will collect necessary medical documentation, engage the requesting party in an interactive dialogue, and consult with the relevant department and/or college about the request. Decisions regarding medical accommodations will be examined in light of the underlying medical condition and the availability of reasonable accommodations. Accommodations for instructors who have household members who are at high risk of severe illness related to Covid-19 will require evidence that the household member is not attending school, daycare or otherwise being exposed to congregate settings. 

Requests for accommodations must be submitted by December 3, 2021. Absent a substantial change in individual circumstances or public health conditions, no late applications will be accepted.  This deadline is critical to ensure that all requests receive sufficient attention and to allow for responsibilities to be shifted if necessary and coverage arranged to ensure a robust on-campus learning experience for our students.

We continue to be encouraged by the downward trend in the positivity rate of Covid-19 as well as the high vaccination rate on campus. As previously stated, if you were previously approved for an accommodation for the Fall 2021 semester your accommodation will expire. You must complete an application for an accommodation by the December 3, 2021 deadline so that it can be evaluated for the Spring 2022 semester.

Options for Teaching a Course if Approved for a Medical Accommodation

Faculty members and graduate teaching associates who are approved for a medical accommodation that permits remote teaching should consult with their department about course delivery. Options available include but are not limited to:

  • Broadcasting lectures synchronously into the classroom assigned to the course while students attend the class in person
  • Teaching a synchronous online lecture with in-person discussion sections handled by TAs (if applicable)
  • Fully synchronous online lectures
  • Recorded lectures asynchronous with other synchronous activity planned for the students. 

As always, faculty and graduate student instructors can work with the Center for Teaching and Learning and the IDEAS (Instructional Design, Engagement, and Support) group for further assistance on instructional modality options.

Questions regarding the accommodation process can be directed to accessibleworkplace@umass.edu

Please care for your health and safety as we continue to provide our students the world-class residential and educational experience they’ve come to expect at UMass Amherst.