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.

Questions? Get Answers

Institute leaders and experts answer your questions about our road to recovery in this series of virtual town halls. 

Faculty Guidebook

We have created an electronic guidebook to provide the information most relevant to faculty in one, easy-to-access place online. It will be updated regularly.

Employee Resources

Where employees can go for answers to questions about health, well-being, and campus resources.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on January 15, 2020.]

Table of Contents    
Classes and Coursework Academic and Financial Policy Changes Technology
Online Teaching Campus Operations and Student Services Travel
Health and Safety Research and Labs  

FAQ

Classes and Coursework

How is the Spring 2021 semester calendar changing?

To minimize the health risk to our community due to travel-related transmission, there will not be a weeklong Spring Break, and the first day of classes has been delayed to Thursday, Jan. 14. To allow students the opportunity for a mid-semester break from instruction, no classes will be held (also no assignments or assessments due) on Tuesday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 24. The dates of final exams have not been changed.

The mid-semester break days from instruction are intended to provide students with a mental break from coursework, and as such, faculty are encouraged to not schedule exams or align major homework due dates for the day or two immediately following the break days.

The key dates of the Spring 2021 academic calendar are: 

  • Thursday, Jan. 14: Classes begin 
  • Monday, Jan. 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (national holiday)
  • Tuesday, March 16: No classes, assignments, or assessments
  • Wednesday, March 24: No classes, assignments, or assessments 
  • Monday, April 26 – Tuesday, April 27: Final instructional class days
  • Thursday, April 29 – Thursday, May 6: Final exams

Students will have the same number of instructional days as a typical academic semester and as required by accreditation norms. The Faculty Executive Board, acting on behalf of the Academic Faculty Senate, has approved these changes, as required by the Faculty Handbook.

Other relevant dates for spring include: 

  • Monday, Jan. 11 – Tuesday, Jan. 12: FASET orientation for incoming first-year, transfer, and exchange students.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 13: New spring resident housing move-in.

For a full list of Spring calendar dates, visit the Registrar’s Office.  

 

Will Spring 2021 classes be delivered in the same modes as fall classes?

As in the fall semester, classes will be offered in one of three modes — residential, hybrid, and remote.

In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations. For the spring, however, we will take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering.

Hybrid course instructors will clearly outline, in the syllabus and Course Description Tool, the expectations for regular and pre-scheduled in-person engagement and be explicit about details regarding assessments, attendance expectations, and other pertinent course details. Please note: Attendance policies are set by individual instructors.

The primary components of our spring plan include a revised academic calendar and refined course delivery mode expectations that promote meaningful and regular face-to-face interactions for students with faculty, academic staff, and peers.

Visit the Registrar’s Office to learn more about the course mode definitions and for detailed instructions on accessing specific course information in OSCAR.

 

Will Spring 2021 final exams be delivered remotely?

For the Spring 2021 semester, final exams and assessment will be delivered in a format that is consistent with the course mode and as selected by the instructor to appropriately assess mastery of the course. This means residential and hybrid courses may have traditional in-person finals, and remote and some hybrid courses may have finals delivered remotely.

 

Why are we increasing on-campus interactions for the spring?

This fall, we gathered more than 6,000 student survey responses and talked to more than 200 students, faculty, and teaching assistants through listening sessions. The data revealed that on average nine out of 10 student survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their instructors have been empathetic and flexible with them during the pandemic.

Some of the feedback was not as positive. Feedback showed us very clearly that students want more in-person experiences. We also heard various reports of difficulties around the hybrid model, including inconsistent personal engagement that left students feeling isolated, technology challenges associated with both synchronous and asynchronous delivery, and an increase in the amount of time needed to prepare and deliver courses. Read the student survey and focus groups summary report.

With this community feedback in mind, we will approach the spring course modes with the following goals:

  • Continue to be guided by the scientific evidence concerning the transmission and mitigation of the coronavirus, including recommended personal hygiene and physical distancing behaviors, consistent participation in surveillance testing, and appropriate preparedness and responsiveness to any positive cases within the Georgia Tech community.
  • Maximize the number of courses offered in residential and hybrid course modes.
  • For hybrid courses, increase the number of meaningful and regular interactions to provide students greater opportunity for personal engagement with faculty, academic staff, and peers.
  • Maximize synchronous interaction whenever possible, even when combined with asynchronous lecture content, and engage students in high-quality remote instruction when in-person or hybrid instruction is not possible.
  • Be clear and consistent in all our communication about course and attendance expectations.

 

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 the 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 spring?

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. Please review the Institute’s Spring Campus Events Guidelines for policies and additional recommendations. 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.

 

FAQ

Online Teaching

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

Please review the Hybrid Teaching Guide for Spring 2021, 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-authorized tools and platforms in order to safeguard student information. Those existing tools include Canvas, Kaltura, Piazza, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx video conferencing. Find resources and tutorials for these services and more at services.gatech.edu.

The Georgia Tech Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy provides sessions and resources on technology best practices.

 

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 impact 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/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?

Faculty can use Kaltura Personal Capture, which is integrated into Canvas, or Camtasia to record desktop activity, video, and audio to prepare instructional materials.

These recordings should be delivered using Media Gallery (Kaltura) inside Canvas. This delivery mechanism will provide 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/TAs can edit these captions. Professional captioning services are available and can be very costly.

 

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

BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams provide automated captioning in synchronous sessions. These automated captions are 70-85% accurate, depending on clarity of speech as well as the content matter. If a session is recorded and downloaded, the video can be published through the Media Gallery (Kaltura) in Canvas, which will provide machine-level (automated) captions.

 

 

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

Faculty can use Kaltura Personal Capture, which is integrated into Canvas, or Camtasia to record desktop activity, video, and audio to prepare instructional materials. 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 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 the Media Gallery (Kaltura) in Canvas.

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?

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.

 

FAQ

Health and Safety

Some of my students are feeling isolated. Are there safe opportunities for them to socialize and engage on campus?

Even in our “new normal,” there are plenty of opportunities on campus. Details are included in the Faculty Guidebook.

 

What additional safety measures are in place for classrooms, specifically?

  • Hand sanitizer stands are provided in every building at the entrances and in restrooms and classrooms.
  • Disinfectant and wipes are available in classrooms and for workspaces.
  • Supplies of disposable face coverings for students are available in many buildings across campus. See where you can pick up a face covering if you need one.
  • Classrooms have been configured to maintain 6 feet social distancing. The tables have been numbered to allow for assigned seating.
  • If classrooms have two entrances, they have specific designations for entering and exiting.
  • All classrooms are cleaned by Building Services staff and fogged daily.
  • Facilities Management has upgraded air filters to MERV-13 filters where possible, and ensured all systems are operating optimally.
  • Air purifiers have been installed in classrooms in Skiles and D.M. Smith, where HVAC systems could not be upgraded to MERV-13.
  • Air quality sensors have been installed in various classrooms across campus, and the data is being captured and monitored.

 

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 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.

 

How do faculty members, GRAs, and GTAs request new Covid-19-related accommodations for the Spring 2021 semester?

Please note: The deadline to submit a Covid-19 related accommodation request based on age (65 or older, including those who will turn 65 during the spring semester) or underlying medical condition was Friday, Oct. 9. Decisions about accommodations were communicated no later than Wednesday, Oct. 14

Higher risk faculty, GTAs, or GRAs assigned to teach this spring, but who are unable to return to campus due to Covid-19, may wish to request an alternate work arrangement via GTHR.

The Return-to-Campus Manager’s Tool Kit outlines those higher risk categories, as well the process for requesting Covid-19 related alternate work arrangements. Note: For requests based on an underlying medical condition, supporting medical documentation must accompany the request form for the review process to begin.

If you need assistance or have questions regarding accommodation requests, email Ann F. Harris, GTHR-Employee Relations Compliance Advisor.

 

Will Covid-19-related accommodations for Fall 2020 be automatically extended for Spring 2021?

Current Covid-19-related employment accommodations granted for staff, faculty members, graduate research assistants (GRA), and graduate teaching assistants (GTA) for Fall 2020  have been extended through May 2021.

Extensions must be documented via a signed addendum,  sent to each employee by Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR). Staff, faculty members, GTAs, and GRAs and their direct supervisors must sign the addendum and return a copy to GTHR and their respective HR Business Partner or HR Director.

 

 

FAQ

Academic and Financial Policy Changes

FAQ

Campus Operations and Student Services

FAQ

Research and Labs

FAQ

Technology

FAQ

Travel

Can I travel — domestically or internationally?

No. In accordance with guidance issued by the  USG, only essential travel may be authorized at this time. All nonessential travel is prohibited until further notice. Adjustments may be made as additional guidance is received. For  additional details,   visit usg.edu/coronavirus.

 

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

Travel is considered essential if it is for: 

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

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 additional details,  visit CDC Map and Travel Notices.

If you have any questions, please contact covid19travel@health.gatech.edu.