Recommended Guidance to Address Absences Fall 2022

Recommended Guidance to Address Short-Term (up to 2 weeks) and Medium-Term (up to 4 weeks) Absences Fall 2022

August 26, 2022

University policies and procedures in general govern instructor or student absences from in-person classes, such as the:

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and emerging monkeypox (MPX) illness, may create special circumstances in which instructors and/or students are unable to attend classes in-person (e.g., quarantine/isolation, illness, caregiving) for a short-term period (up to 2 weeks), or a more prolonged period (up to 4 weeks).   This document offers institutional guidance on how to be flexible in addressing short- and medium-term absences related to COVID-19. 

The guidance focuses on course instruction and attendance. However, we note that instructors and/or students may be unable to engage in-person in their supervisory or student expectations related to thesis/dissertation research. We ask instructors to consult with their unit head, and students to consult with their faculty and/or academic advisors, on how to best proceed in such circumstances.

This guidance is not intended to address serious illnesses for which either instructors or students are unable to engage in their duties or studies. For such situations:

  • Faculty should: 1) consult with their unit heads, 2) review the UHR leave information page to learn about employee leave options and eligibility, and 3) contact UHR’s Leave Management Team for additional guidance regarding leave availability, eligibility, and options at umdleave@umd.edu.
  • Staff or students who serve as instructors of record or graduate/teaching assistants should consult with the academic program director(s) and unit head 
    • Staff: review the UHR leave information page to learn about employee leave options and eligibility, and contact UHR’s Leave Management Team for additional guidance regarding leave availability, eligibility, and options at umdleave@umd.edu
    • Undergraduate students: contact their academic adviser and the Dean of Students office at deanofstudents@umd.edu 
    • Graduate students:  contact the Graduate School Academic Counselor at slivings@umd.edu.

Guidelines for Short-Term (up to two weeks) Absences

Instructors should do their best to fulfill the commitment of an in-person or blended course by providing highly engaging face-to-face experiences for their students. In special circumstances in which instructors are unable to attend classes we ask instructors to consult with their unit head on how to best proceed. 

Instead of altering the mode of delivery altogether, we encourage instructors, to the extent possible, to leverage the creativity and innovation that was harnessed in recent semesters to provide flexible and adaptive learning opportunities. Instructors should also develop contingency plans to partially or fully pivot to remote instruction should the Prince George’s County Health Department and/or University alter its guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic or MPX illness in ways that impact in-person instruction.

Recommended alternative strategies if the INSTRUCTOR needs to be absent for less than 2 weeks:

  1. Ask a colleague or Teaching Assistant to cover 1 or more classes in person. 
  2. Shift to synchronous online presentations (e.g., 1-2 live class sessions over Zoom - maximum of 2 weeks). All synchronous course activities should maintain the published course schedule.
  3. Shift to an emergency asynchronous remote plan for very short, distinct periods (1-week maximum).

Recommended alternative strategies if the TEACHING ASSISTANT needs to be absent for less than 2 weeks:

  1. Consult with the course instructor and appropriate program director.
  2. If possible, seek to secure an appropriate individual to cover 1 or more classes in person. 
  3. Shift to synchronous online presentations (e.g., 1-2 live class sessions over Zoom - maximum of 2 weeks). All synchronous course activities should maintain the published course schedule.
  4. Shift to an emergency asynchronous remote plan for very short, distinct periods (1-week maximum).

Recommended alternative strategies if the STUDENT needs to be absent for less than 2 weeks:

  1. Teach in-person while also providing asynchronous, equivalent options (such as recordings) for off-site participation by students due to short-term absences.
  2. Teach in-person and, if you are pedagogically and technologically comfortable, broadcast instruction (simulcast) by using Zoom in the classroom for students who are off-site. TLTC has a number of resources and services that are available to instructors. 

Guidelines for Medium-Term (up to 4 weeks) Absences

Recommended alternative strategies if the INSTRUCTOR needs to be absent for up to 4 weeks:

  1. Consult with your unit head and/or program director to develop a strategy for course coverage. This may include:
    1. Having a colleague or Teaching Assistant cover in-person classes during the absence period.
    2. Reassigning the course to another instructor.
    3. Shifting to synchronous online presentations during the absence period. All synchronous course activities should maintain the published course schedule.
    4. Shifting to an emergency asynchronous remote plan for very short, distinct periods (1-2 weeks).
    5. A combination of colleague/teaching assistant, synchronous, and/or asynchronous instruction during the absence period.

 
Recommended alternative strategies if the TEACHING ASSISTANT needs to be absent for 2-4 weeks

  1. Consult with the course instructor and program director to develop a strategy for course coverage. This may include:
    1. Having another individual cover in-person classes during the absence period.
    2. Reassigning the course/section to another teaching assistant.
    3. Shifting to synchronous online presentations during the absence period. All synchronous course activities should maintain the published course schedule.
    4. Shifting to an emergency asynchronous remote plan for very short, distinct periods (1-2 weeks).
    5. A combination of colleague/teaching assistant, synchronous, and/or asynchronous instruction during the absence period.

 
Recommended alternative strategies if the STUDENT needs to be absent for up to 4 weeks:

  1. Teach in-person while also providing asynchronous, equivalent options (such as recordings) for off-site participation by students due to short-term absences.
  2. Teach in-person and, if you are pedagogically and technologically comfortable, broadcast instruction (simulcast) by using Zoom in the classroom for students who are off-site. TLTC has a number of resources and services that are available to instructors. 
  3. For courses in which it is not possible to be absent for a prolonged period of time, instructors should
    1. Consult with their undergraduate and/or graduate program directors depending on whether the course is an undergraduate or graduate course.
    2. Direct undergraduate students to contact their academic adviser to discuss academic options. 
    3. Direct graduate students to contact their program director or advisor and the Graduate School Academic Counselor at slivings@umd.edu to discuss academic options. 

Resources

  • A list of digital resources organized by course activity (lecture, labs, and hands-on activities) or by tools available in ELMS-Canvas may help instructors to communicate, share content, and assess student learning.
  • The Undergraduate Catalog has additional guidance for instructors related to student attendance and participation in course activities.
  • The university has established specific procedures for instructors and students who require COVID-19 Related Disability Accommodations.
  • The Teaching and Learning Transformation Center or instructional designers in your college can help support instructors with course design teaching practices, and questions about instructional technology. 
  • Classroom configuration, resources, and technical capabilities vary across campus. To request support or report issues, please reach out to classrooms@umd.edu.