Covid-19 Information for Faculty and Instructors

Nazia Zakir and Bonnie Ferri

(Left) Nazia Zakir, assistant vice president of Environmental Health and Safety, and (right) Bonnie Ferri, vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development.

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Frequently Asked Questions

[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on September 2, 2020.]

Table of Contents    
Classes and Coursework Campus Operations and Student Services Staff Updates
Online Teaching Travel Technology
Health and Safety Research and Labs  

FAQ

Classes and Coursework

Will Fall 2020 classes be delivered in person, online, or through some combination of the two?

We aim to retain as much face-to-face interaction as possible. Georgia Tech classes will be scheduled in one of five modes:

  • Residential spread: Courses/sections that are residential with social distancing measures in place in the classroom. This is the traditional format that we are treating as the desired option. 
  • Remote with limited in-person instruction (hybrid): 
  • Hybrid hands-on: Courses/sections will offer lectures via remote delivery and bring students to campus for hands-on, studios and lab activities with social distancing measures in place.
  • Hybrid touch points: Courses/sections will offer lectures in an online format and will bring students to the classroom several times during the semester for meaningful in-person experiences.
  • Hybrid split: Courses/sections will offer lectures both in class and through broadcast recordings using classroom technology but will also bring smaller groups of students to the classroom on a predetermined basis with social distancing measures in place.
  • Remote: Courses/sections that are completely remote and delivered online (e.g., OMSCS courses).

School chairs and college deans have been asked to select the most appropriate mode of instruction for each course in order to maximize student learning while minimizing health risks. 

The majority of courses will have some in-person attendance. The health and safety of our students and faculty are our top priority in setting all class modes. An important part of that is allowing for safe physical distancing in the classrooms where these courses are held. 

Courses taught by a faculty member with an approved accommodation may be assigned to remote delivery. Also, courses that are typically offered online will continue to be offered online. 

Class delivery modes were published to OSCAR Monday, July 20.

Will faculty members have the discretion to choose the specific hybrid mode for their class? Can they determine how often it should meet?

Yes, faculty members should choose the hybrid mode that is most appropriate to the pedagogical needs of the course. Instructors will also need to assess the capacity of the assigned classroom space. There is not a policy requiring a minimum number of in-person meetings for a hybrid course. However, faculty should seek to engage the students in a few meaningful in-person meetings throughout the term. The exact number and timing should be determined by the instructor in accordance with significant events in their syllabus. The faculty member has flexibility to choose when those touchpoints are most effective for the course.

What will face-to-face instruction look like?

With limited seating in a classroom, a smaller group of students may attend the class on rotating intervals with the remaining students performing complementary self-paced work or participating in the class remotely for those sessions. The exact number of students will depend on the seating capacity of rooms and the frequency of class meeting times.

Classes that meet three times per week should generally be divided into three groups of students, each of which attend in person during one of the three meetings.

Similarly, a class that meets twice weekly should be divided into two groups. For classes meeting only once per week, we recommend that the class be divided into two groups each of which attends in person on alternate weeks.

For hybrid courses, instructors can pair similarly structured in-person experiences with remote engagement.

In all delivery modes, faculty will accept papers, projects, tests, homework, and other assignments only in electronic form unless the assignment is a physical artifact.

How is the Fall 2020 semester calendar changing? 

The fall calendar looks different, but students will have the same number of contact days with instructors. To reduce travel, we will cancel the two-day Fall Break currently scheduled for Oct. 5-6 and ending fall instruction by Thanksgiving. Reading days and final assessments will be administered remotely and the calendar will be modified: 

  • August 17: First day of classes 
  • September 7: Labor Day holiday 
  • November 23 – 24: Final instructional days (no new material or scheduling of any other assessments)
  • November 25 – 29: Thanksgiving holiday
  • November 30 – December 8: Reading days and final assessments
  • December 9 – 10 or 11 – 12: Commencement

Will students return to campus for finals after Thanksgiving?

Instructional days will be completed by Thanksgiving break, and we do expect final assessments to be delivered remotely.

In extraordinary circumstances, faculty members may request to administer an in-person final assessment. Those requests should be made via their respective dean. However, it is our intention that students who travel for the Thanksgiving break will not return to campus.

A student with an approved accommodation from the Office of Disability Services (ODS) has contacted me to discuss the request. How do I handle this?

If you have been contacted by a student with an approved accommodation, please work closely with the student and ODS to understand the request and student needs. Please make a good faith effort to investigate whether or not requested accommodations are possible for the course.

If the accommodation request results in a fundamental alteration of the stated learning outcome of the course, please contact the student and ODS to explain the reasoning for the decision. Encourage students to work with ODS and their academic advisor to find a suitable alternative that, as far as possible, preserves the student’s progress toward graduation.

Will we be able to plan seminars, symposia, and similar academic activities this fall?

Activities related to the academic enterprise, including orientations, student and faculty recruitment, symposia, lectures, and conferences, should be planned to allow for social distancing and minimizing of large groups. Contingency plans should be made for transitioning to remote implementation in all cases. Transitioning symposia, meetings, invited speakers, conferences, and other programming to a virtual format is recommended.

We recommend that faculty-focused gatherings be delivered remotely where feasible, including New Faculty Orientation, faculty meetings, curriculum and planning meetings, and other faculty-centric activities.

Can I have in-person meetings with students in my classes or research group, or with students I advise?

In most cases, we recommend one-on-one or small group meetings be conducted remotely. This is the preferred and most common option used by academic advisors and other student services. When in-person one-on-one or small group meetings are needed or requested, meetings should be set up in a place that accommodates social distancing and follows all health and safety protocols, including the use of face coverings.  

May students and faculty engage in online learning outside the United States without approval from the Office of General Counsel?

Students and faculty who plan to engage in online learning physically from any of the following countries need to first gain approval from the Office of General Counsel (asklegal@gatech.edu): Cuba, Crimea Region of Ukraine, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

Where can I find additional information on classroom policies during Covid-19? What about guidance on course modes?

Please see the Academic Restart FAQs.

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FAQ

Online Teaching

Where can I get help preparing my course for hybrid teaching?

Please review the Hybrid Teaching Guide available on the Provost’s website for detailed guides, tools, and resources.

What tools should I use to deliver my classes online? Can I use any online platforms I’d like?

Faculty must use Georgia Tech provided tools and platforms in order to safeguard student information. Those existing tools include Canvas, Kaltura, Piazza, and BlueJeans and WebEx video conferencing. Find resources and tutorials for all of those services and more at services.gatech.edu.

Do faculty/instructors need to ask permission from students to record classes?

Faculty/instructors are not required to obtain permission to record a class if the recording will not be shared with persons outside of students enrolled in such class. Faculty, however, should inform students prior to recording.

More information about class recordings are on the Office of the Provost website.

May faculty/instructors share a recording of class activities with students enrolled in the class?

A recording of class activities may be shared with enrolled students. Students may not share the recording with persons outside of the class.

More information about class recordings are on the Office of the Provost website.

What is the policy if students want to record part of their classes? 

Faculty/instructors may prohibit students from making their own recordings unless required as an Institute-required accommodation. Faculty/instructors may allow recordings but prohibit sharing. Suggested syllabus language is available on the Office of the Provost website.

A student in my class has accommodations through the Office of Disability Services. How should I provide these accommodations when teaching and assessing remotely?

The Office of Disability Services continues to be the point of contact for students and faculty in terms of accommodations requests. Faculty can review their students' accommodations by accessing the Disability Services AIM portal. There, faculty can view a list of students who have requested accommodations and which accommodations they need by class and section.

  • Faculty should consider alternate assessments to timed, exam-based assessments, as many students with disabilities have special situations that could affect their ability to complete a timed, online exam.
  • Students should review updated syllabi for course adjustments and contact faculty via email if there are concerns.
  • Faculty should also check in with each student via email to ensure that accommodations are applicable and adequate.
  • Students and faculty should consistently monitor and address accommodation concerns and continue to vet all questions about accommodations through the Office of Disability Services.

For more information on how faculty can create accessible courses, please see Maintaining Accessibility When Teaching Remotely.

For more information on accessible resources, please see Academic Continuity Resources for Faculty.

How are we approaching closed captioning for courses with students who have hearing difficulties?  

We encourage the use of Microsoft Teams instead of BlueJeans at this time as it has an automated captioning function. The Office of Disability Services can also do real-time captioning as needed but needs some notice to make arrangements. 

How accessible is Canvas?

While Canvas, Georgia Tech’s learning management system, does contain accessibility features, it is important to ensure that the resources and documents shared with students through Canvas are also accessible. For more information on how faculty can create accessible courses, please see Maintaining Accessibility When Teaching Remotely.

How can I allow more time on a test or allow a student to take a test multiple times?

The Quiz tool within Canvas allows accommodations (e.g., extended time, multiple attempts, etc.). The following links provide a step-by-step guide on how to set up each accommodation in Canvas:

If I create a recording, how can I ensure that it is accessible?

Kaltura Personal Capture, which is integrated into Canvas, can be used to record desktop activity, video, and audio to prepare instructional materials. Kaltura provides machine-level (automated) captions for the delivery of media. The accuracy of these captions depends on the clarity of speech as well as the content matter. Faculty and TA's can edit these captions. Professional captioning services are available and can be very costly.

How can I conduct accessible real-time (synchronous) sessions?

If faculty use BlueJeans, BlueJeans Events, or WebEx for synchronous instructional sessions, the sessions are not captioned in real time. If a session is recorded and downloaded, the video can be published through Kaltura with machine-level (automated) captions.

How can I record lectures or prepare asynchronous content for my courses?

Camtasia is an all-in-one screen recorder and video editor, which makes it simple to record and create professional-looking videos on Windows and Mac. This software is now available to Georgia Tech faculty and their support personnel (TAs, instructional designers) for course content creation. 

Important: While Camtasia is now available for recording and editing, Kaltura continues to be the delivery mechanism for course content. After creating your content using Camtasia, make sure to upload it to Canvas/Kaltura

To download Camtasia, access training sessions, and for more information, visit Camtasia Recording and Editing Software.

Will Georgia Tech offer digital proctoring options for tests in the fall?

Yes. Digital proctoring refers to controlling the test-taking environment and the real-time audio and video surveillance of test-takers to detect unauthorized behavior.

Starting in Fall 2020, Honorlock is the digital proctoring solution available at Georgia Tech. However, before employing Honorlock, it is important faculty consider alternative approaches to assessment and the tools that are available.

If using Honorlock, make sure that you include the following requirements in your Syllabus:

  • Please refer to important Honorlock technical requirements
  • Students must have a broadband internet connection
  • Students must have a webcam and microphone
  • Students must have a secure private location to take an exam
  • Students will be asked to provide a picture ID as part of the exam process
  • Honorlock is not compatible with Linux OS, Virtual Machines, tablets, or smartphones
  • Honorlock requires that you install the Honorlock Chrome extension into Google Chrome.

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FAQ

Health and Safety

What additional safety measures will be put in place for classrooms, specifically? 

All classrooms are being reviewed and possibly reconfigured to ensure social distancing.  Special health and safety protocols for classrooms that are unable to be configured to ensure social distancing are being developed.  Among those protocols are:  

  • Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) will ensure that each classroom is provided with a supply of face coverings.
  • Plastic face shields will be available to faculty members to use while lecturing in classrooms. Faculty members can email osasere.idahosa@ehs.gatech.edu if they need a face shield after the semester starts. You can use your personal face shield all semester. Note that face shields should be disinfected after each use.

Some classes will be transferred to larger spaces which allow for social distancing.  

In all courses, faculty will accept papers, projects, tests, homework, and other assignments only in electronic form unless the assignment is a physical project. 

Will instructors have to share microphones in classrooms?

If you want to amplify your voice, you can request a microphone to use in conjunction with the room speech reinforcers, where available. Faculty can check out these microphones for the duration of the semester.

What if I become ill during the fall semester?

During the Fall 2020 semester, some faculty members may be required to quarantine due to exposure or isolate due to a Covid-19 diagnosis. Some disruption to classes is inevitable, but Georgia Tech is making every effort to ensure continuity of operations.

  • As is the case in any semester, you may cancel a class if you have an illness or emergency situation and cover any missed material at your own discretion.
  • If you need to cancel a class, notify students as early as possible.
  • If you need to cancel a class repeatedly, a backup will be supplied in the form of a temporary substitute instructor or asynchronous work.
  • No course will be canceled after the first class has occurred.

How will I be notified if one of my students is missing class due to diagnosis with or exposure to Covid-19? Should I inform the class if this happens?

If a student in one of your classes needs to quarantine or self-isolate due to diagnosis with or exposure to Covid-19, the Office of the Dean of Students will inform you that they are missing class for a legitimate reason. Avoid inferring the reason. Students may also inform you personally of their situation.

In either case, do not inform or do contact tracing involving other class members. All notification and contact tracing efforts will be handled by the Georgia Department of Public Health, with assistance from Stamps Health Services.

If necessary, you may follow existing procedures for requesting documentation from the Office of the Dean of Students.

You can find more details about handling illnesses in your classes on the Academic Restart FAQs.

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FAQ

Campus Operations and Student Services

Please see:

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FAQ

Travel

Can I travel — domestically or internationally?

No. Per USG guidelines, all nonessential travel is prohibited until further notice. Adjustments may be made as additional guidance is received. For further details please refer to usg.edu/coronavirus/.

Business requirements for Georgia Tech employees traveling for business and research purposes during the outbreak and pandemic were updated and effective as July 1, 2020.

Travel is considered essential if it is for: 

  • Research and business meetings that cannot be conducted virtually; and
  • Projects and work that are time sensitive with fixed deadlines.

Establishment of international travel is being reviewed and guidance is pending. Restrictions have been placed in Workday to align with the recommended USG and CDC level 3 countries. For further details, please refer to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html.

If you have any questions, please contact covid19reporting@health.gatech.edu.

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FAQ

Research and Labs

Please see:

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FAQ

Staff Updates

Please see:

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FAQ

Technology

Please see:

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