Faculty FAQ

What has been done to create safe classroom environments?
Although the Virginia Department of Health has lifted all physical distancing requirements, we have surveyed classrooms to determine a maximum seat capacity that allows for some spacing. We have left plexiglass shields in the classrooms and will supply all with sanitation materials. With just a few exceptions, teacher stations are located in a manner that allows instructors to keep more than a 6 ft distance from students.

Due to the changes in the lay outs of some of the classrooms, we recommend that you visit your classrooms before classes start on Wednesday to make sure that you are familiar with the space and have all you need to support your pedagogical plans.

May I remove my face covering if I am standing behind the plexiglass shield in my classroom?
As we allowed last year, we are allowing again this year, the option of removing your mask when (and only when) you are behind the plexiglass shield mounted in your classroom. If you move from behind the shield, you must raise your mask to cover your mouth and nose.

What may I say about the mask requirement and other safety measures on campus?
You may announce in class that all students and employees are required to wear a mask and that you would like for them to maintain physical distance from others and from you.  You may also encourage them all to be vaccinated, but you cannot do anything that would discriminate against students who are not vaccinated (e.g., tell them that they cannot attend class in person), nor may you have a conversation with individual students about their vaccination status.

We suggest the following language for your syllabus.

“Students are expected to be committed to the health and safety of our campus community and are expected to abide by College policies that require specific behaviors and practices to reduce the likelihood of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. All students, faculty, staff, and visitors on our campus, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be required to wear masks or other approved face coverings in any indoor space. While the College is not requiring students to vaccinate against the COVID-19 virus, it is strongly encouraged for those who do not have a documented medical or religious exemption. For those who need to document such exemptions, forms can be found on the UVA Wise COVID-19 page at www.uvawise.edu/covid-19.  Prevalence testing will be conducted for those who are not fully vaccinated, or for those who have not documented their vaccination.

Failure to comply with the College’s requirement on face coverings may result in your being asked to leave class or further disciplinary action. Students who are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms should not attend class in person and are encouraged to contact a health provider or visit UVA Wise’s health clinic.  

Please be aware that as this is an evolving situation, campus and course policies on classroom safety are subject to revision.”

What guidance can I give students who have been exposed to COVID-19 or may be displaying symptoms of COVID-19?
If a student has been exposed to COVID-19, please tell them to contact the Health Clinic at UVA Wise as soon as possible (by phone at 276-376-3475 or by email at healthclinic@uvawise.edu). They’ll assist the student in evaluating their exposure and finding a testing option. We ask that you also notify Josh Justice so that he might make sure potential quarantine or isolation is handled according to protocol.

Students who are displaying potential symptoms of COVID (e.g., sneezing, runny nose, fever) should be tested for COVID. Unfortunately, he symptoms of seasonal allergies overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19, but we should urge students (and colleagues) who are experiencing these symptoms to take them seriously. If students report symptoms of COVID-19, please encourage them to contact the Health Clinic at UVA Wise. Importantly, do NOT direct them to the Prior Center to test if they are symptomatic. We are reserving that testing option for prevalence only and keeping symptomatic individuals away from that site will help us all limit the spread of COVID-19.

How do I handle a student who is not wearing their mask?
You may announce in class that masks are required in all indoor spaces at the College and that any student who refuses to wear a mask or refuses to wear a mask properly, is not allowed to be in your classroom.

What do I do if a student habitually fails to wear a mask?
As with any other conduct issue, please refer a student who habitually refuses to wear a mask through the student conduct process.  You may do that by logging into the My.UVAWise.edu faculty portal and submitting a full, detailed report of the incident through the available link. You will need to document your conversation with the student, the student’s response, and the date, time, and location of the conversation. This form can also be used for other instances related to violations of the Code of Conduct. For questions about the Student Code of Conduct, please contact Brittanie Jones at bsj3g@uvawise.edu.

 May I allow remote access for students in my class?
It is important to emphasize that faculty should not make unilateral decisions for students to have remote access to their class for the entire semester. Your decision to provide that flexibility affects other entities on campus and sets a precedent. However, if a student is in quarantine or ill (with COVID or otherwise), you may grant this access on a short-term basis (1-4 class periods) as part of your attendance policy. If such access extends past 4 class periods, the student should file an extended absence form. This ensures that the student’s absence is officially recorded should decisions regarding academic appeals or other matters need to be made.

Of course, you may encounter requests for full-semester remote access to your class. These requests should be referred to Whitney Wells in Disability Services who will work through a designated process. If a student is deemed to have a verified disability, there are several accommodations that would be considered by Disability Services; however, dual modality (allowing the student to participate in class from a remote location) is not one of them.  

For each student with an approved disability, Disability Services will work directly with the instructor and a school representative to determine what accommodation is appropriate and workable for a particular course. There are some courses that may not be appropriate for modifications in any form (labs, small discussion seminars, etc.). In that case, the student would have to select another course.

Can I convert my class to online for the semester?
Converting an otherwise in-person course to hyflex, hybrid or online for the entire semester is not an accommodation you should make for individual students. If you are considering such a transition for your entire class, these must be approved by the Office of Academic Affairs. Generally, unless a class was offered online before COVID, we will not offer it online this fall. If you believe a conversion of your class can be justified, please email Kasi Clifton, who will work with the Provost, your department chair, and the Human Resources office to consider your request.   

What happens if a student contracts COVID or is exposed and must quarantine?
In this case, you should execute your normal absentee policy, as you would for any illness. For this reason, we encourage all faculty to give careful thought to their attendance policy and to include very clear guidelines in the syllabus about how you handle absences.  If a student needs to quarantine or isolate for an extended absence (4-14 days), it is very important that you have the student complete the extended absence form that can be found on the student portal of My.UVAWise.edu. All of these requests will be processed through the Registrar’s and the Academic Affairs offices. If the student’s absence is lengthy, a decision about withdrawal from the course may be considered.  

One note that may be helpful – vaccinated students will not be required to quarantine if exposed to COVID. We will test them per CDC guidelines within 3-5 days after exposure and/or if they have symptoms. If they are positive, they will need to isolate for 10 days and until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication and other symptoms are improving. The College is not providing quarantine or isolation space this fall, so all students who require either will need to return home until they are cleared to be back on campus.  If students have questions about their status or the protocol, please have them contact Josh Justice.

What if I am exposed to COVID-19?
In July, the CDC recommended that anyone who is fully vaccinated and comes into contact with someone who has, or is suspected of having, COVID-19 does not need to quarantine. However, they should get tested three to five days after exposure. You should isolate if you develop symptoms or receive a positive test result.

If you are not fully vaccinated, a 10-day quarantine remains the best way to avoid spreading the virus to others after you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19. According to CDC guidelines, you may discontinue quarantine after a minimum of 10 days if you do not have any symptoms, or you may test on Day 5 and release from quarantine on Day 7 with a negative PCR or antigen test and no symptoms.

What if I test positive for COVID 19?
You will need to isolate, but may discontinue isolation under the following conditions: at least 10 days have passed since symptom onset or the positive test AND at least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND other symptoms have improved.  In this case, please work with your chair on a plan to cover your classes during your absence.

Are field trips, overnight stays or performances including choral and ensembles permitted?
Yes, gatherings and traveling may resume, as restrictions for these facets of college life are no longer in place per the Governor’s orders. Please keep in mind, however, that the mask requirement is still in effect on college trips.  Musical rehearsals and performances are now permitted, but students must continue to wear a mask, which may create challenging situations for some rehearsals and performances.  If that is the case, please contact Academic Affairs (via Kasi Clifton); that office will work with faculty directors and mentors for performance events to determine a strategy (e.g., heightened testing) to permit performers to remove masks.