Public Health Guidelines for Instructors of Face-to-Face Classes

In an email to faculty and teaching associates who will instruct face-to-face classes, Jeffrey Hescock, executive director of environmental health and safety, and Ann Becker, public health director, outline safety protocols to be upheld in the classroom.

That email is as follows:

Dear Faculty Member or Teaching Associate:

As an instructor of a face-to-face class on campus we would like to provide you with the following information.

Instructor Public Health Requirements:

As an instructor of a face-to-face class, it will be important that appropriate public health guidelines are followed within the classroom, lab or studio in which you are teaching.  These include measures you should take yourself as well as how to guide students and their behavior in your class.

  • Complete the daily COVID-19 Checklist prior to arrival on campus
  • Face coverings are required by all students, instructors and teaching assistants in the classroom
  • Develop single-use, non-shared stations and materials for items that cannot be cleaned/disinfected between users

    • Ensure that shared equipment, items or spaces are cleaned/disinfected between different users.
    • Consider, where feasible, preparing individual sets of materials for students to use instead of having multiple students dispense items from a single source.
  • Ensure there is no eating and drinking in class.
  • Before class begins, disinfect the instructor work area and commonly touched surfaces (A/V equipment, desk, door handle, laboratory/studio equipment, etc.).
  • Remind students to disinfect their spaces before class begins and after class ends.
  • Direct any student exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to University Health Services.
  • After class ends, make sure the space is set up to support social distancing for the next class.
  • Review the classroom and classroom laboratories public health requirement flyers, posted in each classroom.
  •  Ensure social distancing guidelines are followed:

    • Students and others should remain at least six feet apart when possible.
    • Follow traffic flow patterns and seating patterns to maximize distance between individuals and ensure students are instructed on maintaining these patterns.
    • Consider, where feasible, having all needed materials for labs, studios or other activities at students’ workstations to minimize the need for students to move around to secure items.
    • Relocate commonly used shared equipment away from work areas.
    • If students must work in groups, ensure the same students always work together to minimize the possibility of cross-group transmission.
    • Put in place a protocol to answer questions from students after class so as to avoid too many students coming up at once and congregating together without appropriate social distancing in place.
    • Adhere to maximum public health occupancy limits.
    • Visitor access should be limited. If having a visitor to the class is necessary, keep a log of who and when for later contract tracing if necessary.

Student Education & Compliance Plan:

All the students enrolled in your course will have signed the UMass Amherst Community Agreement, an articulation of students’ responsibility to take conscious steps to protect the health and safety of the members of our community with whom they interact including in the classroom. University faculty and staff are asked to provide guidance, education and reminders of the expectations outlined in the Agreement as a first step should a student not be following the public health protocol outlined in the Agreement (i.e., not wearing a face covering in class or while in any building). Should a student be violating the public health protocol within your classroom, lab or studio, we ask that you first talk to the student reminding them of the importance of complying with these protocols. Students will make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes are unintentional. A simple reminder can help put them back on the right track right away.  

Should a student demonstrate repeated violations of the public health protocol in place after you have reminded them of the importance of complying, you are asked to submit a referral to the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office (SCCS) in the Dean of Students Office,(Incident Reporting: Student Conduct Referral tab on right hand side of page). The SCCS will send the student a Behavioral Notice reiterating the expectations for student behavior, reinforce the importance of these expectations, describe the possible consequences of subsequent incidents, and offer to answer the student’s questions. If behavior is persistent and/or egregious, the student’s behavior will be evaluated in relation to the policies outlined in the Code of Student Conduct.

Teaching Assistants:

If you have teaching assistants assisting you with this class and/or overseeing their own discussion/lab section of the course, please share with them the expectations under the Instructor Public Health Requirements (provided above). So as not to put your TAs in a difficult situation within the classroom, you may want to ask them to provide you information or concerns regarding any students not complying with the public health protocol for you to follow up directly with the student behavior.

Asymptomatic Testing:

Instructors, teaching associates and teaching assistants who teach face-to-face will go through asymptomatic testing once a week. For more information about the Asymptomatic Testing Program and Daily Screening, please visit the COVID-19 Testing Programs webpage.

Positive Case:

All students in face-to-face courses on campus will be tested twice each week. Should a positive test occur among one of your students in your classroom, a case investigation with contact tracing will be undertaken by the public health team. If there is evidence of classroom exposure, there will be targeted communications to those directly exposed. Only in rare circumstances will an entire classroom need to be notified. Students will be instructed to notify their instructors that they are absent due to public health reasons and need remote accommodations.

It is extremely important that you treat any private health information you may directly or indirectly receive in a confidential manner and not share information on a student testing positive in your class. The student will be isolated on campus or at their home and will be absent from class while in isolation. Any assistance you can provide for the student to continue progress within the class or for alternative accommodations to make up the missed work will be greatly appreciated.

Facility Questions:

Please call the Facilities Solutions Center at 413-545-6401 if you encounter any building or instructional space issues that require assistance, for example, issues related to temperature, access, custodial services and instructional space furniture. 

Wishing you a wonderful, healthy and safe Fall 2020 semester.

Jeffery Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety
Ann Becker, Public Health Director