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Columbus State University

June 22nd, 2020 - Faculty Return to Campus Plan Update

We are preparing for the next phase in returning to campus in the fall. Our workgroups have crafted a plan to guide us as we safely resume face-to-face classes, while implementing social distancing practices.

We understand faculty and staff may have many questions. We have compiled answers to some of the more common questions below, and will continue to share updates as we acquire information. We will continue to address the numerous challenges facing us as fall semester approaches.

Our current plan is to begin the semester following USG’s Contingency I plan (Fall classes are face-to-face with social distancing) and then move to the Contingency III plan (Fall classes transition to online) at Thanksgiving Break, finishing out the semester with final exams online. The Contingency II plan involves beginning the fall semester with online course delivery.

Common Questions

Campus Concerns:

Masks and face coverings are important in preventing transmission from asymptomatic individuals who have COVID-19. Employees are strongly encouraged to wear masks or face coverings while on campus, but it is not required. At this time, CSU will provide three face masks per employee, if needed, for use while they are on campus.

CSU is placing signs across campus to encourage social distancing, especially among students. All social distancing guidelines should be followed for meetings held in workspaces, conference rooms and meeting rooms. This includes students and student workers. Whenever possible, meetings should be held virtually.

Students will be encouraged to observe social distancing, utilization of face coverings, and proper sanitization while in residence halls and participating in on-campus activities.

You may verbally encourage social distancing and mask-wearing with students, but please note, in most circumstances, it is not required (exceptions include labs where social distancing is not possible, etc.).

One of the best ways to encourage students to engage in social distancing and mask-wearing is by example.

Classroom Concerns:

We are currently working to craft language that faculty can add to their syllabi that encourages social distancing, mask-wearing, and classroom cleaning practices (described in more detail below).

The CSU Support Services team has adjusted the custodial plan to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local guidance for COVID-19.

Electrostatic backpacks will be used nightly to disinfect the following areas: doorknobs and handles, stair rails, classroom desks and chairs, countertops, handrails, light switches, handles on equipment (e.g., athletic equipment), push-buttons on vending machines and elevators.

Other classroom surfaces and objects will experience normal routine cleaning by custodial services.

Faculty and students will be provided with Sanitation Stations to clean their work area at the start and end of each class period.

Additionally, the Student Government Association is planning to introduce a campaign (signs/t-shirts / social media) called Wipe-In / Wipe-Out. This will encourage the campus community to utilize the Sanitation Stations and wipe their work area when they enter and leave a classroom.

Staggered seating should be used. The Return to Campus Plan provides a seating flow chart to effectively implement social distancing practices.

Faculty will determine the best pedagogical methods for their classes. However, all activities should be socially distanced, and students or faculty should engage without coming into contact with others.

Faculty wearing face masks in class will need to consider clear masks/shields if they have students who have hearing impairments. Check with the Center of Accommodation and Access for further information.

COOL is preparing “hyflex” training to move all course materials online, with options for student-student/student-instructor interactions.

Live streaming and recording will be done utilizing technology through UITS and CougarView and will be ADA compliant. Also, faculty wearing face masks will need to consider clear masks/shields if they have students who have hearing impairments. Please check with the Center of Accommodation and Access and COOL, because students with hearing impairments will need to see the instructor’s face.

Content in CougarVIEW should follow the Common Course Template format. All videos created and curated will need to have quality captions in order to provide an equitable experience for the hearing impaired. Audio files provided in the online format will need to have transcripts provided for the visually impaired. All other content should be provided using the HTML file creation tool in CV, which will ensure access by screen readers used by the visually impaired. Training on content conversion and the Common Course Template is available from COOL.

In lieu of traditional attendance policies, it is important to assess student learning through other means than physical class attendance. Consideration should be given for students who are not able to attend class due to illnesses. Alternative options for evidence of course engagement should be utilized to determine if course objectives are being met.

Access to CougarVIEW, activity in logging in, anything that can be selected (topic pages, assessment tools, surveys, etc., can be tracked by when selected, how often, and how long a student spent time on it. If items are put into CougarView, and students access, it can be tracked. It is important to note that the only thing we cannot see is when a student downloads a file and spends time reading it on their own devices. In CougarView this may register as a single click with no time spent on it.

Students and faculty are expected to remain socially distanced during the course of the pandemic. It is advised that information sharing needs to occur electronically. Unless otherwise necessary, syllabi and other educational materials should be provided via Cougar View, email, or other remote medium and not printed or distributed in class. COOL is providing training on using the Common Course Template and other tools to present course content digitally.

Other Faculty Concerns:

We are tentatively planning to return to mostly face-to-face on-campus operations for the fall semester should guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health allow it. If this plan is to change at any time, we will notify faculty, staff, and students as quickly as possible.

In the event that we need to switch to wholly online course delivery before the Thanksgiving Break, there may not be time to provide a planning week to accommodate that change like we had during the Spring 2020 semester. We encourage faculty to prepare for this potential contingency in advance.

Faculty are encouraged to hold virtual office hours when possible and limit after-class conversations when possible. Faculty should also limit in-office visitors to one at a time, and follow social distancing recommendations to reduce the number of individuals in small spaces.

All meetings should be held virtually when possible. If a virtual meeting is impossible, all social distancing guidelines should be followed for meetings held in workspaces, conference rooms and meeting rooms.

Whenever possible, service and research activities should be conducted virtually (i.e., virtual committee meetings).

Although USG does not support a blanket pausing of the tenure and promotion clock for tenure- track faculty, the USG policies do support the approval of extending the time on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, faculty who experience an interruption in their research productivity or in their ability to participate in service or enhance their teaching will be permitted an opportunity to request a pausing of the “tenure-clock” for the 2020-2021 academic year. Faculty may also apply for an extension if they are going up for tenure and promotion during AY21-22. Please see the guidelines for application on the Academic Affairs website and the COVID-19 website.

There is no university-wide plan for backup teaching in the event of a faculty member becoming ill or no longer being able to teach a course. There are examples of departmental plans across campus that may serve as a starting point for departmental plans to address this concern. For instance, the Nursing program has multiple instructors enrolled at the same time into one course, one as a mentor. This model would provide immediate access to an alternate instructor should it be needed. Additionally, there may be a principal course designer assigned to create a master course, and multiple copies of the course created. This addresses the need to quickly accommodate more students into multiple sections where other instructors could be teaching.

What are the next steps?

The return to campus plan provides general recommendations for social distancing in classroom layouts, and hallway, stairwell, and elevator usage. We did not provide specific prescriptions for classroom layout or content delivery methods. We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach will not be 100% effective, and some decisions will need to be made by evaluating teaching environments on a case-by-case basis. We want to ensure faculty and staff understand the general guidelines and are capable of applying these guidelines to their individual workstations and classrooms.

Faculty should begin to work on applying these guidelines with their department chairs. Over the next week members of the Return to Campus Task Force, President Markwood, and Provost Bordelon will be available during college and departmental meetings to answer additional questions.

Attached is the Return to Campus plan. The plan can also be found at the following link: https://www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response/. We will continue to update the website with FAQs and any other helpful information to assist our faculty and staff in providing the high quality education our students have come to expect from us.

If you have any ideas, questions, or feedback on the plan, please send them to our portal: https://columbusstate.formstack.com/forms/returning_to_campus_ideas_and_questions

Thank you for your patience as we manage these challenges together,

Return to Campus Communications Work Group