FAQ | Instruction Fall 2021

This is a list of frequently asked questions regarding instruction in the Fall 2021 semester.

Classroom Facilities

QR codes are being installed in all UMD instructional spaces. First priority was given to large classrooms with fixed seating (e.g., lecture halls and round tables) where QR code stickers were placed at every seat and numbered from front to back and from audience-left to audience-right.

During the first week of September, QR codes will be installed in classrooms with moveable seats.   In these spaces, zones are identified using a line on the floor and wall with a large sign designating each zone and its corresponding QR code. For small rooms (30 seats or fewer with moveable seats), a single QR code designating the entire room as a single zone location will be posted inside the classroom. General purpose classroom spaces will be completed first, followed by departmental teaching spaces listed in the schedule of classes with target completion by the middle of September. To report any issues related to this new procedure, please contact itsupport@umd.edu

The University of Maryland will continue to work with all units to be sure that the proper PPE is in place. Please contact safety@umd.edu for information on how to request supplies or with other questions related to COVID safety needs. 

Procurement & Business Services continues to stock supplies such as face masks, hand sanitizer, etc. for which there is no charge to departments at this time. The list of available items is at this link (requires login): https://www.myorderdesk.com/catalog/18869/covid-19-supplies-for-departments-returning-to-campus?Provider_ID=908198.

Facilities Management has installed 200 portable air cleaners in 110 departmental and general purpose classrooms that do not have mechanical ventilation. This information, and summary of FM's actions re HVAC systems was provided to the academic facilities officers -- a summary is available on FM's website: https://www.facilities.umd.edu/fm-covid19/faqs

The Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk has prepared our campus to be compliant with all current CDC guidelines related to the use of PPE and other safety equipment. Please visit: https://essr.umd.edu/safety-university-maryland-employees-during-covid-19-pandemic for detailed information about safety for employees who work on site. Please email additional questions to safety@umd.edu to be contacted by the appropriate person.

The University uses a layered approach for maximizing protection from the SARS-Cov-2 virus that includes vaccines, wearing of masks, and improved ventilation.  Campus building ventilation systems have been assessed to ensure effective operation in accordance with CDC recommendations and industry standards. Where possible, outdoor air ventilation has been increased and improvements have been made to air filtration. Portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters are being placed in departmental and general-purpose classrooms that lack mechanical ventilation.

Instructors may encourage students to consistently sit on the same seat/location in the room. They may also remind their students, at the beginning of each class session, to scan the QR codes available in the room to check-in at their chosen seats/location.QR codes are being placed in seats, locations (tables/zones), or rooms based on room capacity and configuration. When students arrive in class, they will be asked to use their mobile phones to “check-in” by scanning the corresponding QR code. This will allow the Health Center to identify and notify those who have been in close contact with a person who tested positive. QR codes will be installed in all General Purpose Classrooms (GPCs) following order: large rooms (49 seats or more - lecture halls and 6-rounds); mid-size rooms (31 - 49 movable seats) and small classrooms (30 or fewer - GPCs). QR codes will also be available for departmental classrooms.

Masking / Social Distancing

When addressing students regarding mask compliance, we recommend speaking one on one with a student to identify the concern and listening to the student for understanding of their individual circumstances and determining a path forward.

Some helpful tips to hold conversations with students both as a class and as individuals are below:

 

  1. Whole class announcement/discussion:
    1. The pandemic has been challenging on everyone in many different ways. Currently all individuals are required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.  We all have different lived experiences. Extending grace and compassion with those who are struggling is preferred over judgment or dismissing others' lived experiences. Individuals may receive exemptions or accommodations for many different reasons and you may not know if someone has an exemption or accommodation.  Therefore, if you have a concern, I ask that you speak with me outside of class so that I as the instructor can address the concern as needed. 
  2. Individual conversations:
    1. I noticed that [identify behavior] was occurring during class time. I wanted to take this opportunity to check in with you to see how you are doing and if there’s anything I can do to support you.
    2. If a student states they have a medical exemption - remind them to work with the University Health Center and Counseling Center’s Accessibility & Disability Service office to receive an approved accommodation (you will receive appropriate documentation approving the accommodation). 

Students who are unmasked for medical reasons should have an accommodation with ADS. It is the student’s responsibility to share an electronic copy of their current accommodation letter with course instructors in order to implement their accommodations. Digital accommodation letters are sent to course instructors directly through the Online Portal system. More information and resources can be found by visiting: https://www.counseling.umd.edu/ads/resourcesforinstructors/
Should a student not have a letter, they should be referred to ADS in order to obtain one. 

The university continues to follow recommendations nationally from the Centers for Disease Control and locally from the Prince George’s County Health Department. Currently, there is no requirement for social distancing at the University of Maryland

Eating and drinking in the classroom, public spaces, and libraries is generally not permitted; individuals should use good judgement in consuming water briefly during classroom time. On August 6, President Pines and Dr. Marinopoulos sent an email to the campus community reinstating the indoor masking mandate for everyone on campus. Masks must be worn at all times indoors, except when you are by yourself inside a room, office, laboratory or study area, in residence hall rooms with roommates, and momentarily when eating or drinking.

The university has taken steps to make sure classrooms are fully functional for instruction this fall. Examples of amplification while wearing a mask can be found by visiting these links:

Test recording large room with PA system

Test recording small room without PA system

Additional suggestions on how to manage communication while wearing masks can be found here.

Instructors should begin by asking such students to don a mask (if they are not wearing one) or to cover their nose and mouth with their masks (if a mask is being worn improperly).  Students who are not wearing a mask may be given a verbal warning and asked to wear one, or asked to leave the classroom immediately. Students who refuse to comply with the indoors mask expectation following the first warning should be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for failure to comply with a directive of University officials.

There are no current limitations on in-person events. The University strongly encourages that gatherings and events be planned outside whenever possible, especially when food and beverage services are offered. 

Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask indoors at all times and while outdoors in crowded spaces, are required to sign a memorandum acknowledging the health risks of being unvaccinated, and are required to comply with regular, twice-a-week on-campus COVID-19 testing. Social distancing is not a current requirement in instructional settings, unless an unvaccinated individual removes their masks temporarily under approved conditions such as to eat or drink in the proximity of others.

In classroom/instructional settings, instructors and presenters who are fully vaccinated may remove their mask if they can maintain a 6 foot distance from others (given occupancy variations, instructors should plan to measure this distance themselves).  Masks must be worn in all other circumstances. Faculty members with a verified medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask for long periods of time should contact their department’s scheduling office to arrange for the possibility of a sufficiently sized classroom that enables 6 foot distance. Additional COVID 19 masking guidance is available here.

COVID Considerations

A student who tests positive must call the HEAL line at 301-405-4325.  PCR-based test results must be confirmed at return.umd.edu if a student was tested off-campus. The University Health Center (UHC)  will not submit off-campus test results for students. Students must take the step to confirm the result. Results of on-campus tests will be submitted automatically to the UHC.

The UHC will send a level 2 notification to the instructor and participants of classes where an individual tests positive. The individual’s name will not be listed on the notification. Instructors cannot ask students for proof of a positive test result, but can infer the verification of a positive result once a level 2 notification has been received. In the case that a verification is not received, the professor can ask the student to have the UHC contact the course instructor and participants with a notification. Staff from the UHC will initiate Early Contact Identification to ensure that individuals on campus who are close contacts to the positive case are notified swiftly. 
 

Staff from the University Health Center will initiate Early Contact Identification to ensure that individuals on campus who are close contacts to the positive case are notified swiftly (usually within 24 hours of a positive test result). Notification will be provided to individuals who may have been in close contact with the positive individual, as well as those who were in a shared space but were not in close contact. The Prince George’s Health Department will follow up with formal contact tracing of positive individuals.
 

Students and faculty should follow the University’s Excused Absence Policy. Faculty should provide students who must be absent an opportunity to make up missed work, as they have always done, in ways that are appropriate to the delivery method, course materials, and course content. There are all types of courses offered on our campus and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Faculty should anticipate student absences and seek out solutions by contacting the Teaching and Learning Center at tltc@umd.edu or 301-405-9356.

Current guidance is for short term absences only. The University of Maryland will follow State and local government guidance regarding COVID protocol, and will continue to closely monitor conditions.  Instructors should develop contingency plans to partially or totally pivot to remote instruction should  the University alter its COVID-19 guidelines in ways that impact in-person instruction. Guidance will be updated accordingly.

The University also has resources and child care benefits available. Please visit: https://uhr.umd.edu/benefits/family-care/

The University has an obligation to ensure the continuity of instruction to meet the needs of students and to ensure satisfactory progress in their programs of study. Existing University policies and procedures, such as the Policy and Procedures for Non-Creditable Sick Leave for Faculty Members and Academic Regulations for Students’ Absences, should primarily be followed. The COVID-19 pandemic may create special circumstances in which instructors and/or students are unable to attend classes in-person (e.g., 14 days of quarantine/isolation, illness, caregiving). Please review this guidance for information on how to be flexible in addressing short-term absences related to COVID-19.

Research may resume at 100% occupancy. Regardless of vaccination status, researchers must wear masks unless they are alone in their work space. Human subjects research participants must wear masks, and physical distancing should be practiced during in-person Human Subject Research activities whenever possible. 

Face shields must be worn if interacting with high-risk or vulnerable populations on campus for research purposes. High risk or vulnerable populations are defined as children under 12 years of age, unvaccinated individuals, immunocompromised individuals, or anyone at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. See CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html)

IRB guidance is available here. Specific questions should be directed to the IRB office by emailing: irb@umd.edu or askresearchadmin@umd.edu

Not at this time. The University of Maryland has clearly communicated the importance of returning to in-person teaching. Please visit the return to work site for more information. If you are concerned due to a young child/infant at home, or immunocompromised unvaccinated family members, please consider double-masking and maintaining distance indoors if you are concerned about acquiring a breakthrough infection.

Individuals who may have symptoms of COVID-19 should call the HEAL line at (301) 405-4325 (HEAL) to speak with a University Health Center representative.  The University Health Center (UHC) will follow existing early contact identification protocols and inform relevant parties should a person test positive, as well as advise those who must quarantine or isolate. The UHC will distinguish between “close contacts” and others who may have been in the same room but not close to the positive case. The faculty member should call the Heal Line to report the case, providing the name, UID, source of information, course prefix/number, meeting days/times, and last time student attended, if that information is available. 

Other Considerations

Maryland is one of 11 U.S. states that require two-party, or all-party, consent before it is permissible to record or otherwise intercept and/or capture communications (such as phone calls, in-person conversations, video conferences). This means that everyone participating in a conversation must give their consent before any communication is recorded. Maryland courts have found implied consent in cases where it is abundantly clear that an individual knew they were being recorded.

Pursuant to Maryland law, individuals must provide verbal and/or visual notification of recording at the beginning of any meeting or class to alert the participants that "this activity is being recorded." If a participant continues to participate after being notified that the activity is being recorded, their consent to recording is implied.

Individuals may also distribute the attached Informed Consent for Class Recordings, which provides students with the opportunity to expressly consent to recordings. This does not alter the implied consent guidance contained herein.

UMD strongly suggests that individuals do the following:

  • Provide both a verbal and visual notification at the beginning of the activity.
  • Use a visual notification of recording during the entirety of the activity.
  • When teaching with Zoom, password protect your session so that only enrolled students and authorized UMD personnel can access the online class.

Instructors are advised to educate their students about the state requirements and do their best to address any incident directly with the student. The Office of Student Conduct may be consulted to provide guidance to instructors on how to best proceed.

For more detailed information consult this article on how to protect student privacy and personally identifiable information in UMD audiovisual recording systems.
 

In partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, we will now be processing all on-campus COVID-19 tests through the Maryland Genomics SampleScanner (MG Scanner) mobile app. You can complete your one-time patient registration using the welcome email sent to all students, faculty, staff and affiliates or by visiting https://umd.edu/4Maryland/covid-testing/mgscanner-app-instructions.
 

Please review the current travel guidance.

Vaccination Status

Instructors should take roll to be sure that only students who are registered for the class or on the waitlist are attending. Students who are not registered or on the waitlist should be asked to leave.

Adjunct faculty are required to be in compliance with the University’s vaccination requirement, as well as follow the same health and safety protocols as full-time university employees. 

A student with an approved medical or religious exemption is compliant with the University’s vaccination requirement and cannot be denied access to a classroom or lab.

Faculty and staff may ask students about vaccination status, but students are not required to answer. Students likewise may ask faculty and staff but an answer is not required. (Note that over 92% of all campus members are vaccinated, and that--given challenges of the delta variant--it is not safe to assume that only unvaccinated individuals are capable of transmitting COVID.)

Visitors to Campus

 Please follow the visitor guidance above. Interviews may be conducted via Zoom as an alternative.

Guest speakers, presenters and students in K-12 Internships are permitted on campus and should follow the campus visitor guidance.

Campus partners will be informed of our current guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A good resource to review for frequent updates to guidance is https://umd.edu/4Maryland.