As our students and faculty return to campus, we thought it would be helpful to share answers to some of the more frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19.  The university has enacted a number of measures to ensure safe campus operations, including vaccine and face covering mandates. It is hoped that the following list of questions and answers will help alleviate any concerns with classes starting.

A student informed me that they think they have COVID. What do I do?

If a student discloses that they believe they have COVID, instruct them to contact Health Services staff via the Symptom Reporting Line (978-934-2682 or Student_SymptomReporting@uml.edu). Direct them to go back to their place of residence if they report this to you in person.

A student informs me that they failed the Daily Symptom Checker. What do I do?

Tell the student to abstain from coming to campus/class and direct them to follow-up with Health Services as this may entail getting a test for COVID. Note that fall is a high allergy season and it is not easy to discern whether someone has COVID or not from the daily checker. However, encourage your students to complete the Daily Symptom Checker.

A student informs me that they have been told to isolate or quarantine. What do I do?

Support the student as best you can – meaning as you would any student missing class for valid reasons. This may include posting notes, using Lecture Capture to post lectures, emailing assignments, and holding some virtual office hours.

A student in my class tests positive for COVID. What happens?

A faculty member will only know that a student has COVID if the student discloses the information or the faculty member is deemed a close contact through the contact tracing procedure. This information should not be disclosed to the rest of the class and the class should continue normally.

May I inquire about the vaccination status of a student, faculty or staff member?

No. This is protected health information and a violation of their right to confidentiality.

What if a student comes to class without a face covering?

Please ask the student to put on a face covering. If they forgot one, please ask them to go get one (or leave the class if they refuse).  Face coverings will be available in each of the Deans Offices, Provost Office and GPS. Note that we have had a face covering policy in place on campus for the past two semesters and this has not been a problem.

How often will my classroom be cleaned?

Classes will be cleaned daily. Cleaning kits are available in each classroom such that each student and each instructor can clean their own personal space upon entering the classroom.

What if a student, or colleague, informs me they are not vaccinated?

This is a student’s or employee’s confidential information. If they choose to share it, that is their right but does not require any follow-up from you. Based on our surveys, we are only expecting less than 5% of the campus population to not be vaccinated (for valid reasons). Those that are not vaccinated and approved to be on campus will be enrolled in our surveillance testing program.

What if I fail the Daily Symptom Checker? What should I do?

We are urging caution. Please contact your chair and do not come to campus if you fail the checker. If you suspect that you have COVID, you should contact your health professional and get tested immediately. Talk with your chair as to how to potentially work remotely or take sick leave.

It may be good to post on your syllabus how students will be contacted if class is canceled, or something changes on short notice (e.g., because you are sick).

What if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID, the administrator of the test will instruct you as to what steps are necessary and please notify HR (covid19hr@uml.edu). Work with your chair and dean on a plan to ensure continuity of learning for the class. It would be helpful to have a plan before this occurs.

What if a colleague in my department tests positive for COVID?

The colleague will follow guidance from their health professional and will notify the university by contacting HR via covid19hr@uml.edu. If you are not contacted as a close contact, you do not need to do anything differently. Note that a close contact is defined as someone being closer than six feet to someone with a diagnosed case of COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period. Additionally, if you are a close contact and fully vaccinated you don’t need to quarantine. Face coverings are required in all settings, and you should get tested within 3-5 days after exposure.

If cases continue to go up, can I move my class to virtual?

The university will continue to monitor the situation, as well as guidance from federal and state health officials. No faculty member should change the modality of a course without the consent of the chair, dean and provost. Students are expecting courses to be delivered according to the mode under which they registered for the course.

If my child’s school sends kids home due to COVID-19, can I teach remotely if I don’t have childcare?

We are committed to providing a positive experience for our students, and continuity of learning is an important component of that experience. If childcare cannot be arranged, we ask you to work with your chair and dean to best ensure that learning continues.

If I need to care for my child or partner who gets COVID, can I teach remotely?

We are committed to providing a positive experience for our students, and continuity of learning is an important component of that experience. If care cannot be arranged, we ask you to work with your chair and dean to best ensure that learning continues.

A faculty or staff member has a strong deference to being vaccinated which is due to neither a medical nor religious reason, how can we accommodate that person to be on campus?

We cannot. According to the agreements with each union, faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. If they choose to not be vaccinated and are not approved for a medical or religious exemption they will be placed on unpaid leave. During this unpaid leave, staff who have accrued leave may use compensatory time, personal time, accrued vacation, or unpaid leave (in that order).

Can a faculty member elect to use HyFlex to lower the density in the classroom?

No. This is the same as changing the modality of the course delivery which is not allowed.

Are quarantine and/or isolation considered excusable class absences?

Yes. We ask faculty to be flexible and supportive of students in this situation.

May I do my office hours virtually?

Up to half of your office hours may be offered virtually.

May I wear a face covering while I teach? If so, will amplification be provided? If I don’t wear a face covering should I stay 6 feet away from students? How do I protect students and myself?

Many classrooms are equipped with microphones and a limited number of microphones or sound amplifiers are available to those in need. If you are vaccinated and choose to teach without a face covering, please maintain social distancing and refrain from walking about the room while lecturing and replace your face covering when finished.

What do I do if students notice a classmate is missing or hear a rumor that a classmate tested positive? How should I address that?

There are many (confidential) reasons as to why a student may miss class and it is best not to speculate. If a student does notify you that they will not be in class, this is not information to be shared with the rest of class.

Do I need to try to maintain social distance between students in class if able? Am I allowed to have students work in groups in class or should I try to keep them separate?

Please provide the best learning environment possible under these unusual circumstances – having students work in groups is a great way to do this.