I wish to thank you for your exceptional work in continuing Georgia State’s mission of teaching and learning, research, and scholarship despite the most challenging circumstances our university has faced in decades on multiple fronts.
In a few short weeks, we will begin our fall semester. For months, we have been working on a plan that provides both the safest possible environment for our faculty, staff and students who will be on our campuses and meaningful alternatives for those who need or prefer an online learning experience. I write today to provide you with several updates and to outline our path to the fall.
Georgia State Ahead
You will find a wealth of detailed information about our plans and answers to FAQs on the Georgia State Ahead website at ahead.gsu.edu/faculty. This information has been updated and expanded extensively since the site was first launched several weeks ago. It addresses health and safety, testing and contact tracing, cleaning and sanitation, alternate work arrangements, working with students in the classroom, tenure clock stoppage, and parking and transportation.
I urge you to spend some time looking through the site and to check back often for critical updates. We all need to be as informed as possible about next steps to ensure a successful start to the semester.
Next Steps for Instructors
Over the course of the last few weeks, the modality of some courses has changed. All courses will be identified in PAWS/GoSolar as Blended (B), Online (O), or Face to Face (F) so students can sign up for what best meets their needs. Instructors should confirm that the modality is correctly coded for their courses and should notify students by email ASAP if a change has been made since the schedule was first provided to them.
We have created a checklist of steps that should be completed by all instructors to assist with the countdown to fall. You can find a downloadable version as well as an expanded guide on the Keep Teaching website.
A few key points you will see:
By no later than August 12, instructors should have posted a syllabus in iCollege that makes clear the course modality. If it is not possible to post a complete syllabus by that date, it is critical that you, at a minimum, post the following information to iCollege:
- A statement of the modality of the course
- For Blended and Face-to-Face courses:
- A clear explanation of the attendance requirements and dates relating to the in-person component of the course. Faculty have been given flexibility regarding the use of in-class time, and students need to know the specific requirements of each course as soon as possible.
- If students will be attending in-person in cohorts, identification of which students are in which cohorts so that no more than 25 percent are in person on any given day (unless an exception has been granted). If you plan to split the class alphabetically, which we recommend in most cases, read our FAQ about cohort assignments under the Academic Plan for Fall here: https://ahead.gsu.edu/frequently-asked-questions/#faculty.
- For online courses, an identification of whether the course will be held synchronously or asynchronously. If the course is held synchronously, you must meet within the time assigned to the course.
Seating Charts and Attendance for In-Person Classes
All instructors are requested to document a seating chart and take attendance for any in-person portion of their course. If a student or the instructor becomes ill, this will help identify those who might have been in close contact.
Seating charts will be made available on the Keep Teaching website. by Friday, Aug. 21 for most classrooms except those scheduled by the colleges directly. For those charts, please contact college leadership. The seating chart can be completed on the first day that each cohort attends class for the first time.
Reporting Possible Exposure or Positive Tests
If a student reports they are infected with COVID-19, direct the student to stay home. You are strongly encouraged to be flexible with your attendance policy and to work with students to adjust any deadlines that may be missed because they are sick. You should not require a doctor’s note in order to give an excused absence.
Until otherwise notified, you should also report the infection to Kerry Heyward (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ijeoma Azonobi (email@example.com) of Georgia State’s Coronavirus Task Force. In a forthcoming email, we will provide you with a direct link where students, faculty and staff can report the exposure. We will use these reports to notify, where possible, others at Georgia State who are identified as having been in close contact (within six feet for at least 15 minutes) with the individual and advise them to quarantine and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Because student health information is protected by federal law, you should NOT contact the other students in your classroom to report a COVID-19 case.
Rooms in which an infected person was known to be present on a campus will be cleaned and disinfected. Because the vast majority of our on-campus classes allow for six feet of social distancing between students and require the wearing of face coverings, there should be no interruption to in-person instruction in most cases.
Uniform Statements for Syllabi
We have received a number of requests for standardized language that instructors may use in their syllabi about a variety of topics. Our suggested language regarding face coverings, assigned seating for face-to-face and blended classes, attendance, and student illness may be accessed on the Keep Teaching Website. If there are issues we have not addressed that you believe would be helpful, please feel free to submit your suggestions on the feedback form located on that webpage.
Face Coverings Policy and Enforcement
Face coverings are required of all individuals while inside campus facilities/buildings and in all outdoor settings. Face coverings will be used in addition to and not as a substitute for social distancing.
Georgia State has developed an enforcement process that is intended to be used in circumstances where an individual refuses to comply with the face covering policy. The policy will be released shortly in a subsequent email to our campus community.
Important Training Opportunity on Deescalating Conflict
There is no question that this fall will be challenging, and that we will be faced with unusual circumstances and heightened tensions as a result of the pandemic, racial unrest around the country, and the upcoming election. To assist you in navigating these challenges, we are presenting a series of workshops and information that will help you develop skills in conflict de-escalation.
Two virtual events about how to navigate difficult conversations and conflict in the classroom will be held online from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, and from 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21. You’ll receive an email soon with further information about how to view the events. You can also submit questions for the open forum panel to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, thank you for all of your extraordinary efforts throughout these challenges. We will succeed this fall because of your dedication to our students and to each other. Good luck readying your courses for fall, stay safe and take care.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs