Fall 2021 Faculty FAQ
1. How might COVID impact my ability to teach in person?
As noted in Clayton’s August 23 email to the campus community, faculty and staff with even mild symptoms are asked to stay home and take a rapid antigen test before being cleared by human resources for returning to campus. You are also asked to stay at home if a family member has tested positive for COVID and you are awaiting test results for yourself or you are having to care for that family member. We recognize that for the sake of continuity of instruction, some faculty in these circumstances may opt to shift online temporarily.
2. What do I do if I need to be absent from class for an extended period of time?
Those who find it necessary, under extraordinary circumstances, to be absent for more than the equivalent of one week of any one course during a semester should receive approval from the Dean for Academic Affairs. You can make up for lost contact hours in a variety of ways: by designing activities and assignments that can be completed in your absence, by arranging for guest speakers, by relying on pre-recorded videos, or by conducting class via Zoom. As always, reach out to your department chair or program director for guidance and support.
3. What do I do if a student(s) must be absent from class for an extended period of time (for example, if they go into isolation)?
As in the past, please work with your students to find ways for them to catch up on course content they have missed. Those ways can include all of those we have relied on in the past—self-guided work, additional assignments, a meeting with you to go over material individually when they are able to meet, and so on. You also are welcome (but not expected) to rely on any of the approaches you developed during our period of online teaching. This might include having the student connect to the course remotely via Zoom. The particulars of your arrangement with a student in this situation are up to you, with the goal of helping the student make up, to the extent possible, the lost class time. For more specifics on remote options for teaching students in isolation, see the next FAQ.
- Low-tech: Some faculty have found low-tech ways to include students in isolation. They are inviting remote students into the class via Zoom with their laptops, but doing so solely with audio. They are then audio recording the class and making that recording available to students.
- Lecture capture: It is also possible to capture your lecture with sound and video for remote students to listen and watch. Most classrooms have classroom computers with cameras and included microphones. These can be used in addition to Zoom/Teams to capture the screen, audio, and video at the lecture station. However, these setups will not capture the various boards in the classroom or the overall classroom activity and sounds and are not well suited to actively including remote students in classroom activities.
- Classroom Activity Capture: Several classrooms have been updated over the past year to include complete classroom capture capabilities. In these classrooms, it is possible to capture the instructor and the students and synchronously include remote students. The instructor will have to actively manage including remote students in the class or appoint someone from their class to do so. This is the most difficult scenario to adopt and requires the most work during the class session. For a description of the technology available in each classroom, see this list: Classroom Tech. Alternately, you can have all students on the Zoom/Teams call, including those in person, and have them use their devices to see and hear the remote students on screen. That way, everyone is responsible for looking out for remote students’ input.
5. When the indoor mask mandate is not in effect, will masks be supplied if I want my students to wear a mask while in class or attending office hours?
Students are being told to carry their own masks with them at all times. In addition, the College will supply classrooms with surgical masks for student use. The College has a supply of appropriate masks that are available to student-facing faculty and staff upon request. Departments may order masks and other COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include desired quantities, delivery instructions, and a departmental code for tracking purposes. There is no interdepartmental charge for PPE supplies.
6. Can I request a change of classrooms at the start of the semester?
Classroom assignments are based on the course enrollment and the pedagogical preferences of faculty, as identified by faculty in the classroom request form. After classrooms have been assigned to individual courses, classrooms cannot easily be changed. If, after the assignments have been made, a faculty member’s revised pedagogical plans lead them to seek a different classroom space, they can request a new assignment, but options will likely be limited, as there will be very few available classrooms at that stage. Classroom assignment changes that would necessitate changing another faculty member’s assigned room can only be made in the case of a documented accommodation, which normally goes through HR in the case of faculty and the Student Accessibility Office for students.
7. I am not comfortable meeting with the group of my first-year advisees in my office, what might I do?
You are welcome to meet your first-year advisees outdoors or in another space you identify. If you choose to do so, plan to meet them in your office area and then invite them to follow you outside or email them ahead of time and leave a sign on your office door with the identified location to meet. Bear in mind, they are not yet familiar with the campus and will need directions.
8. Can I expect that my students will comply with my request that they wear masks while in my class or attending office hours?
Yes, students have been told that compliance is required and reflects a shared responsibility and care for the well-being of the entire Bowdoin and midcoast Maine community. If a student does not comply, please ask them to leave the classroom and follow up with a comment card.
9. What are some suggestions for teaching while masked?
Make sure you are facing your students while you talk. If you are writing on a board, pause your speech until you can turn around. Consider creating an introductory video of yourself without a mask. Or display a picture of yourself without a mask and ask for pictures from students that could be shared. Ask your students what will support their learning in this environment. What do they need from you, from each other? Co-create a class constitution or set of agreements for how to be together as a community of learners this semester.
10. I am concerned that I and my students will have difficulty hearing each other while wearing masks. Can I request mics for use during class?
Yes. Please make your request using this link: https://bowdoin.teamdynamix.com/TDClient/1814/Portal/Requests/ServiceDet?ID=44318. Because different classrooms require different mics, please be sure to include the buildings and room numbers in which your courses will take place. To the extent possible, please plan ahead, keeping in mind that IT will need some turnaround time on requests.
11. Should we attempt to socially distance in our classrooms?
The College’s COVID mitigation plans do not include social distancing in classrooms.
12. What mitigation strategies should we consider (beyond masking) in our classrooms?
At present, we feel no additional mitigation practices are needed. Our staff has been working hard all summer to ensure that our classroom teaching spaces are as safe as we can make them, carefully following guidance from experts. As part of this, we have paid particular attention to air quality. This work has included efforts to maximize the effectiveness of building systems and to augment those capacities through the installation of portable air filtration units. The College’s vaccination requirement, of course, remains our most powerful tool in combatting the spread of the virus.
13. Do my students and I need to be masked while traveling by van to a field site?
14. What is the policy regarding college-sponsored faculty travel?
Faculty may conduct College-funded travel if they choose to, in accordance with Bowdoin’s travel policy and current state COVID guidelines. Faculty should reenter the College’s regular testing protocol on their return.
15. Can we invite guest speakers to campus this fall? What do I need to do to demonstrate that my speaker has been vaccinated?
When the College is in status level green or yellow, campus events (e.g., athletic competitions, lectures, performances, etc.) will be open to members of the public who are fully vaccinated—regardless of whether the event is inside or outside.
If you are bringing in a visitor for a single engagement, please follow the process here for official visitors.
If you are bringing in a guest who will have a substantial engagement that will involve an all-day or overnight visit, please follow the process here for official visitors. In addition, contact Mike Ranen to discuss other health and safety protocols which may include antigen testing.
If an academic department is opening a program up to community members the department is responsible for managing the event, including ensuring that all visitors prove vaccination status using the Health Pass by Clear app.
Given our restricted access to dining and the shifting safety protocols, please consider virtual visits when possible.
16. I am hosting a guest lecture on campus, what do I need to do?
Any students, faculty, or staff hosting a guest lecturer on campus must follow the following procedures to officially register them.
17. Do speakers need to wear a face covering for their lecture?
Speakers may remove their face covering for their lecture if they can maintain a fourteen-foot separation from audience members. If they are not able to maintain a fourteen-foot separation from audience members they must wear a face covering while lecturing.
18. What are the protocols for faculty meetings and committee meetings?
GFA offered the following recommendation for conducting committee meetings:
On July 23rd, the Dean of Academic Affairs characterized the College’s aspiration toward a workplace that is driven by and benefits from in-person interactions. We suggest committees follow the spirit of this email with compassion and flexibility in mind. In practice, GFA will adopt the following plan for its own meetings, and we encourage other committees to consider a process like GFA’s that is guided by compassion for colleagues and flexibility to various circumstances.
The chair of GFA will consult privately with all GFA members about their preferences for in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid meetings. In the absence of objections, GFA will meet in person (and masked, at least through September 4). However, if someone has preferences for either hybrid or virtual meetings, the chair will respectfully consider these wishes. The chair will also reexamine preferences and protocols as the semester progresses, choosing in-person meetings, or at least hybrid ones, if at all possible.
Regarding faculty meetings, GFA wrote:
While we are very much looking forward to returning to in-person faculty meetings, GFA has decided to hold the September 13 and October 4 meetings online. This is based on an abundance of caution after considering the number of people involved, the space constraints in Daggett, the logistical challenges of moving to a larger venue, and the current uncertainties about the spread of the delta variant on campus.
GFA will revisit the plan for faculty meetings prior to the November 8 meeting.
19. Will all courses be loaded on Blackboard and Teams again this year?
20. How can first-year students learn to navigate their coursework on Blackboard?
A “Student Orientation to Blackboard” course has been loaded onto Blackboard for all students; their completion of the course will be signaled by their submission of a completed quiz.
21. A student in my class has tested positive or is a close contact of someone who has tested positive, am I a close contact?
We identify close contacts based on a seemingly simple metric: whether or not someone has been within six feet of an infected person for fifteen minutes or more. Obviously, in the context of a classroom (with students and faculty moving around, working in small groups, etc.), this can be hard to gauge. The best solution seems to be that we ask faculty to be the ones who determine whether or not they are close contacts of the positive student—simply put, if you feel that you have been a close contact of a student who has tested positive, you should consider yourself as a close contact.
If you are a close contact please refer to the guidelines for close contacts on the Fall 2021 FAQ on the human resources site.
22. A student of mine has been informed that they are a close contact of a positive case. Are they allowed to go to class if they are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms?
Yes. Federal CDC guidance states that fully–vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms. We are asking every vaccinated close contact to wear a mask at all times unless in their private bedroom, be careful and conservative in their socializing, and to undergo daily antigen testing for five days after exposure in addition to their twice-weekly PCR testing. They are allowed to go to class with these extra precautions unless they have or develop COVID-19 symptoms.