Guidelines & FAQs for faculty and academic staff
Q: How do I approach when students may need reminders of our masking and vaccination requirements?
A: Here is suggested messaging intended to guide instructors on the first day of classes and beyond. Further information can be found on the CITL website:
Welcome back to campus. It has been a while since we have been able to meet in person. As we are resuming teaching and learning on campus, we share in the responsibility to keep each other safe. Please continue to wear your masks in class, labs and in hallways and other indoor spaces. Continue to practice physical distancing, hand washing and sanitizing. I understand that some of you may feel uneasy or uncomfortable returning to this in-person setting. Others may not. The classroom experience looks different right now, but we will work through this time together to have the best possible learning experience. Please, let us support and respect each other through this transition. Thank you.
A: No, if you can maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, you do not have to wear a mask when teaching; however, you are expected to wear a mask to and from class and in all other indoor common spaces (e.g., hallways and washrooms).
If you decide to wear a mask while teaching, please take into consideration that the mask may muffle your voice and will cover your lips, which may affect some students’ access to the learning experience. You may need to speak at a louder volume than you are used to.
You can also request a mask with clear insert to make the classroom experience as accessible as possible for all students, ensuring that students who rely on lip reading can follow the lectures. Requests for clear masks on the St. John’s campus can be sent to the Blundon Centre at email@example.com.
To amplify your voice for easier hearing, larger classrooms on the St. John’s campus (typically seating over 75 students) have wireless lapel microphones. We ask that faculty use the microphones to ensure they can be clearly heard, and to use the disposable sanitary microphone covers which will be available. In classrooms where a microphone is available, it can be found on the instructor’s podium. In smaller classrooms where a microphone may not be available, CITL can work individually with instructors to determine if a microphone needs to be added to the classroom. If you require additional help, please email CITL’s Classroom Support, or call or visit one of the Classroom Support locations. In smaller classrooms, Grenfell ITS can work individually with instructors. The Marine Institute ICT unit can assist with requests at MI.
Grenfell campus has two lecture theatres with wireless lapel and wired gooseneck microphones at the podium. People requiring support can contact the ITS service desk by phoning 709 639-2049 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please follow directions in the classroom for sanitizing equipment and high touch surfaces.
Q: Do employees have to wear a mask while in meetings?
A: Non-medical face masks are required indoors, in public spaces and common areas or any time a two-metre physical distance cannot be maintained. Indoor public spaces include, but are not limited to, lobbies, elevators, hallways and corridors, stairwells, washrooms, common areas in residences or study lounges, meeting rooms, classrooms, research and teaching labs, shared or open-space offices, and other locations used in common where practicing physical distancing may be difficult or unpredictable, such as libraries.
Masks are not required in student residence rooms, individual offices or while seated to eat or drink.
Q: How will I know if students in my class have exemptions from mask wearing?
A: The Blundon Centre on the St. John’s campus, Accessibility Services at Marine Institute, and The Accessibility Centre and Education Support unit at Grenfell Campus will include a formal face mask exemption (if granted) on students’ formal accommodation list. A student can simply communicate the exemption to their instructors or present them with an accommodation letter provided by the Blundon Centre to carry on their person to provide when needed (e.g., to library staff if availing of study spaces).
Q: What do I do if I feel my entire class should be exempt from wearing masks due to the pedagogy of the course?
Q: How should I approach the mask requirement in the classroom?
A: Treat mask enforcement as you would any other expectation for classroom behavior.
It is the responsibility of every member of the university community to uphold the guidelines and controls necessary to keep Memorial’s campuses safe. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves and each other by following public health guidelines including getting vaccinated, physical distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and staying home when sick. We do not expect instructors to directly enforce the mask mandate in the classroom. We understand that some instructors may feel comfortable asking students without masks whether or not they have an accommodation. If a student is not wearing a mask and does not indicate that they have an accommodation, instructors can make note of this and provide the information in Memorial’s Incident Management system. Incidents of potential violations of requirements should be documented and reported through Memorial’s Incident Management System via the MUN Safe app or the eAlert system to be addressed by the appropriate designated University officials. Should there be a need for further information regarding potential violations of Memorial’s health and safety measures, individuals can reach out Environmental Health and Safety at email@example.com or the Student Code of Conduct office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some best practices for addressing mask wearing in the classroom include:
- • Add a statement regarding the mask requirement in your syllabus and review it on the first day of class. Acknowledging this statement in class sets up classroom expectations and provides an opportunity for further discussion after class should a student request to do so.
- • If a student does not have a mask, check to determine if the student has received an exemption through the Blundon Centre, the Accessibility Centre and Education Support (ACES) at Grenfell Campus or Accessibility Services at the Marine Institute. Remind students that masks are required in the classroom.
Q: How should I approach mask wearing outside the classroom (e.g., during office hours)?
A: Instructors should wear masks in all indoor spaces, including in office space when other people are present, with the exception being in the classroom if physical distance can be maintained.
Q: Can I ask students if they are vaccinated?
A: No. An individual’s vaccination information is confidential.
Q: Can I ask students directly if they have an exemption?
A: No. Instructors have an obligation to confidentiality and protecting personal information. If a student does not have a mask, check to determine if the student has received an exemption through the Blundon Centre, the Accessibility Centre and Education Support (ACES) at Grenfell Campus or Accessibility Services at the Marine Institute.
Q: What do I do if a student in my class indicates they are not feeling well?
A: Advise the student to go home immediately and consult a health care provider if they continue to feel unwell. Students can also phone the Newfoundland and Labrador health line at 811.
Q: What should I do if a student indicates that they are not attending an on-campus class due to not feeling well?
A: It is important for all university community members to not come on campus if they feel unwell. All instructors are asked to continue to show flexibility to students who cannot come to class due to illness and to ensure they understand that they should not return until they feel well. Examples of flexibility include offering alternate evaluations to scheduled assessments and providing up-to-date course materials in the Brightspace shell.
The Senate Committee on Undergraduate Studies has waived the requirement for medical documentation (undergraduate university regulation 6.7.5) for COVID-related absences greater than five days for the fall 2021 semester. Note: this regulation does not apply to some Marine Institute programs.
Academic units on the St. John’s campus have each developed an academic continuity plan for cases of increased absences. Ask to see your unit’s plan for instructional-related issues in the case of increased student absences this fall.
Q: What should I do if I am not feeling well or need to isolate due to potential COVID-19 exposure but am scheduled to teach on-campus?
A: Do not come to campus if you are feeling unwell and contact your department/unit head.
You can plan for instructional flexibility by: a) adding Webex meetings to your course in Brightspace; b) adapting remote teaching materials from the prior academic year for in-person teaching this fall; and c) if in a lecture-capture classroom, schedule and share class recordings.
Academic units on the St. John’s campus have each developed an academic continuity plan for cases of increased absences, including instructor absences. These plans include a unit-specific statement to include on your course outline that informs students how they will be informed of a course cancellation in the event of an instructor’s unexpected absence.
Contract tracing is done by Public Health and not Memorial University.
Q: What should I do if a student in my class informs me that they have tested positive for COVID-19?
A: It is important to remember that someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 has gone through an overwhelming experience and may need additional support. Show empathy and do not share the information – it is confidential.
Students may return to campus once the are well and isolation requirements are met. All students, faculty and staff are expected to complete the daily self-assessment before proceeding to campus as one control to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Links to the self-assessment are shared in the student COVID-19 awareness Brightspace shell.
Instructors have an obligation to confidentiality and protecting personal information. If you require further advice, please contact Environment Health and Safety at email@example.com.
Q: What accommodations do I need to make for students who are absent from class due to pandemic-related issues (e.g. need to isolate)?
A: Instructors should make reasonable accommodations and work with impacted students to support continued progress toward course completion.
Q. I am aware that someone who has attended my class has been directed to isolate. What should I do and do I need to inform other students, my department or health and safety?
Information shared to an instructor, supervisor/academic head, etc. regarding health of a student or co-worker is considered to be personal information under provincial privacy legislation, and this information should not be shared. An individual can, and often will disclose information voluntarily, but we can’t ask for additional details or notify others as it is up to Public Health to share this information when required.
Guidance in this situation includes:
- When it comes to contact tracing and/or guidance to isolate Memorial defers to Public Health guidance.
- If you have concerns regarding your own health, please contact 811 or your health care provider.
- Regarding notification, you will be notified if Public Health determines it is required. They will only be in touch if there is a risk of exposure.
In cases of exposure, Public Health will notify individuals and Memorial will support Public Health if asked. Public Health determines who needs to be tested. It is their jobs to determine risk and exposure level. If there is an exposure you will be notified in less than 24 hrs after test results come back by Eastern Health.
Memorial has many resources to help guide you including information in section 6.2, on page 12 of the Living with COVID-19 document. You can review a table top exercise contained in this document that may also be helpful.
It’s important to understand that just because an individual is isolating doesn’t mean they have a confirmed case of COVID-19. Isolation can be for any number of reasons.
Also, Memorial has many controls in place to minimize the spread of the virus including vaccination requirements, limiting classes to under 100 students and masking. It’s understandable that this news can leave you feeling uncertain and looking for direction. You can contact the Office of the Chief Risk Officer for further advice or guidance on expectations and processes, which have been vetted through public health.
Q: How will students enter and exit classrooms?
A: Classrooms will have marked entrances and exits. All members of the university community will be expected to enter and exit rooms using the designated doorways.
As you know, most classes have a few change-over minutes scheduled between them. . It will be especially important that you finish teaching and direct the class to exit the classroom with this change-over time remaining to avoid crowding at entrances and exits.
Students could want to chat with you at the beginning or end of class — please encourage students with detailed questions to meet you during your regular office hours rather than during informal times.
Q: How do I know if my work environment is safe?
A: Memorial is committed to the health and safety of the campus community and has considered the risks associated with COVID-19 when making the decision to return to in-person teaching and learning for the fall semester. Memorial’s campuses risk levels continue to be monitored locally and globally. Memorial has enacted robust protocols to protect the university community from COVID-19. Details on the various controls in place can be found in the COVID-19 Health and Safety Moment and the Guide to Campus Recovery. Memorial has developed safe work practices, in compliance with federal and provincial guidelines and regulations.
Q: If I see unmasked employees or students within our university buildings, should I phone campus security?
A: No. Do not alert campus security. Some people will have approved exemptions from mask wearing.
Members of the university community and general public are encouraged to act with compassion, empathy and understanding when they observe individuals not wearing facial coverings where typically required.
Q: I am feeling particularly stressed about this. Where can I get help?
A: You can get immediate, confidential support through Memorial’s Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765 (TTY Service: 1-877-388-0275). Online services are available at Workhealthlife. There are also many community mental health resources, including Doorways, provided by regional health authorities.