COVID-19 FAQs for Academic Scenarios
These FAQs are offered as a resource to academic departments, instructors, and academic staff. The Provost's Office will continue to update this list as needed, in partnership with our Fall 2020 Scenario Planning group and the many university offices involved in our reopening this fall.
Several offices across campus have posted FAQs that cover several other areas, which you can find at https://reopen.uconn.edu/faqs/. Further, the latest official guidance and updates on UConn’s response to COVID-19 and its impact on the university community is being provided in real time at https://uconn.edu/public-notification/coronavirus/.
The FAQs are grouped in the following categories:
Spring 2021 Academic Calendar
Spring semester at a glance
- Jan. 19, 2021 – First day of spring semester classes
- Jan. 19-31, 2021 – All courses delivered remotely regardless of assigned modality
- April 11 – 17, 2021 – Spring break
- April 19, 2021 – Spring classes resume (remote modality for all courses)
- April 29 – May 2, 2021 – Reading Days (no classes or assessments)
- May 3 – 8, 2021 – Final Assessments (remote modality for all courses)
At UConn, we plan to continue to deliver courses in a mix of virtual and in-person formats for the spring 2021 semester as long as gating conditions allow us to do so. This is the most prudent approach to take at this time, given how many variables could change regarding COVID-19 spread and mitigation efforts in the U.S. over the next several months.
We have created a list of modalities and definitions. You may review those at provost.uconn.edu/covid-19-fall-planning/covid-19-spring-modalities/.
For the start of the spring semester, the first two weeks of all classes must be delivered remotely. This allows the University the opportunity to conduct the quarantine of residential students simultaneously with the start of classes, as well as complete COVID testing for all students who will have an in-person presence in courses that are assigned an in-person or hybrid modality.
Spring break is set for April 11-17, 2021. When spring classes resume on April 19, all classes will be delivered remotely, regardless of their assigned modality.
Reading Days are scheduled for April 29 through May 2, 2021. On Reading Days, instructors may not hold regularly scheduled or make-up classes, and you also may not have assignments due or exams scheduled for these days. Fully optional activities including office hours, study sessions, and/or other accommodations may be scheduled during these days.
Spring 2021 final exams are scheduled for May 3 – 8, 2021. All final assessments must be delivered remotely, regardless of the assigned modality for a course. Instructors have the option to opt-out of a final exam and structure their final assessment in the form of final papers, final individual/group projects or presentations, portfolio reviews, or other forms of cumulative assessment.
Instructors should utilize videoconferencing technology if they wish to include guest speakers in their curriculum. Any requests to bring an in-person guest speaker on campus will need to be reviewed and approved by your or dean, and exceptions will be extremely limited. One of the guiding principles this fall is to limit the density of people on campus only to those who need to be there for their studies, research or other essential on-campus services.
It will be unlikely that individuals in a shared classroom will be identified as close contacts. The following control measures are in place for UConn classrooms: required 6 feet distancing and use of face coverings, frequent hand washing/use of hand sanitizers, and regular disinfection of surfaces. These steps make risk of disease transmission in this environment low.
- Notification: Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be advised to notify their instructors directly when they are unable to attend class due to illness and to contact the Dean of Students Office, dos.uconn.edu; however, they are not required to disclose the nature of their illness. Test results are considered protected health information and cannot be disclosed without consent. Students may choose to self-disclose their test results, but should not be compelled to do so. Instructors are not responsible for nor authorized to disclose that information with other students. Contact tracing and notification is handled by SHaW or local health departments, depending on which campus(es) the student attends for in-person classes. Further information on student testing can be found via Student Health and Wellness (SHaW): https://studenthealth.uconn.edu/updates-events/coronavirus/.
- Contact tracing: Contact tracing for students will be performed by SHaW for Storrs-based students and by local health departments for students on the regional campuses. Due to the control measures placed in the classroom environment, it is unlikely that individuals in a shared classroom space will be identified as close contacts.
- Coursework: Instructors should include language in their syllabi with guidance for students on how to communicate absence from instruction based on any illness and refer to SHaW for instruction on the requirements of self-isolation and self-quarantine: https://studenthealth.uconn.edu/updates-events/coronavirus/. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has compiled language to use in syllabi specific to unique situations for the fall 2020 semester. That language is available in a shared Google doc from CETL.
If a student has been placed in medical quarantine, their instructors will receive an email from the Dean of Students office seeking assistance for the student to continue their studies for in-person courses remotely. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has created a set of FAQs with strategies for instructors who receive such a request: https://ecampus.uconn.edu/dean-letter-faq/.
An instructor who has tested positive for COVID-19 should notify their supervisor as soon as possible that they must isolate at home. Instructors should also coordinate with their department head and CETL on strategies to cover their classes. Test results are automatically reported by the testing site (usually a lab or your health care provider) to your regional public health department, which will inform close contacts through a confidential process by authorized contact tracers. Test results are considered protected health information and cannot be disclosed without consent. Instructors may choose to self-disclose their test results, but should not be compelled to do so. Identified close contact individuals will be informed through contact tracing protocols and advised to self-quarantine. A close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected individual for more than 15 minutes.
All final exams will be delivered remotely. In-person delivery ends the week of Thanksgiving, with all instruction delivered remotely the last two weeks of the semester. This means that all final exams must be delivered remotely or virtually. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers a variety of resources to help instructors prepare assessments for online formats, https://ecampus.uconn.edu/keep-teaching-assessment/.
- All building entries will have signs posted with directives on mask usage, social distancing, hygiene, and symptom monitoring. This will help enforce expectations to those entering the buildings.
- Use your syllabus to address expectations for your class about masks and face coverings. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has compiled language to use in syllabi specific to unique situations for the fall 2020 semester. That language is available in a shared Google doc from CETL.
- If a student refuses to wear a mask after being asked to do so, instructors are encouraged and have the right to end the class early in the interest of everyone’s safety. The instructor should also report the student and their behavior to https://community.uconn.edu/submit-a-referral/.
- If someone is unable to wear a mask, due to a medical condition for example, Student Affairs will work with students and Human Resources (HR) will work with faculty and staff to identify an alternative before they return to campus.
- Each classroom will have a sign outside the door designating classroom capacity and layout to support 6-ft social distancing.
- For classrooms with multiple entry and exit points, doors will be marked as “enter only” and “exit only.”
- For classrooms with a single point of entry and exit, the University is not mandating one uniform approach. We ask that instructors and students work together to develop an approach that supports the guidelines to limit close contact. This may include assigned seating, or a directive for students to fill seats upon arrival from front to back, for example.
- In all classroom contexts, individuals entering and leaving the classroom should maintain a distance of 6 feet as much as possible and wear their mask at all times.
- Each classroom will be marked with signs designating which seats should be used in order to maintain recommended social distancing. It is crucial that instructors and students sit only in these seats to maintain distancing, as well as not move furniture elsewhere. Several University offices collaborated to ensure that each person in the classroom is allocated a 3-ft radius “bubble” equating to 28.27 sf. Classroom capacity is significantly reduced as a result, in some cases up to 80% to 85% less seating than usual.
- Layouts for classrooms, teaching labs, and other facilities are available to view and download at this Sharepoint site from University Space Planning and Management.
We want to support TAs with the same option as faculty to teach online if that is their preference. That said, in-person teaching assistants are allowed, given the instructor and TA adhere to safety protocols that include mask wearing, physical distancing, and hygiene and cleaning routines. Please work with your department head to ensure they are involved in the approval of in-person assistants in your class.
Personal Protective Equipment and Cleaning
- Classrooms will be cleaned daily by Facilities staff. High touch points such as doorknobs, light switches, and handrails will be cleaned multiple times daily, in addition to thorough and regular cleaning of bathrooms, common areas, and open spaces.
- Sanitized wipes or disinfecting spray and paper towels will be available at the entrance to the classroom. Please instruct students to pick up enough wipes on their way into the classroom to wipe down their learning space both before and after class (classes longer than 75 minutes may need an alternative procedure for picking up wipes for after class sanitizing). Wipes should be discarded into garbage bins on the way out of the classroom. Students must maintain physical distance and not congregate by the cleaning supplies. Instructors should factor in a few minutes of cleaning time when developing their classroom lesson plans.
- Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at entrances for all buildings, as well as entrances for classrooms, and dining halls stocked by Facilities. Hand sanitizer in gallon jugs with pumps may be used where appropriate. Supplies will be checked and dispensers refilled as necessary. Facilities will check supplies regularly, and signs will be posted with contact information when refills are needed.
Facilities Operations has shared its Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines on its COVID-19 resources page, https://fo.uconn.edu/covid-19/facilities-operations-covid-19-resources/. Facilities staff will continue to utilize general cleaning methods and disinfection of high-touch points in bathrooms and other common areas, at least daily as directed by the State of Connecticut and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or more frequently as necessary. This will include all bathrooms, lecture halls, hallways, and other commonly shared spaces. Products used for disinfection must meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Facilities Operations will provide cleaning/disinfecting supplies for commonly used surfaces. Spray bottles containing a disinfectant and paper towels will be available in all classrooms, bathrooms, and shared spaces on all campuses. If you have further questions about cleaning supplies or other cleaning protocol, consult this resource guide from Facilities Operations: https://fo.uconn.edu/covid-19/facilities-operations-covid-19-resources/.
Masks for faculty, academic staff and graduate student instructors will be distributed to colleges and schools, who will reach out with directions on how to obtain masks. If you have further questions, reach out to your supervisor, who can coordinate with your dean’s office. If someone is unable to wear a mask, due to a medical condition for example, Student Affairs will work with students and Human Resources (HR) will work with faculty and staff to identify an alternative before they return to campus.
Field Experiences and Field Trips
Until further notice, out-of-state travel is not approved. Group travel within the state is discouraged, however, you may request an exception through your dean’s office. Attention must be given to ensure precautions to minimize potential transmission, including social distancing and mask usage. Keep in mind that social distancing will greatly reduce the capacity for multiple people to travel in one vehicle, for instance.
UConn provides services to support students in their well-being from a variety of perspectives. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has compiled language to use in syllabi specific to unique situations for the fall 2020 semester. That language is available in a shared Google doc from CETL.
Student testing procedures vary, based on home campus, housing (on-campus or off-campus), and undergraduate or graduate level.
More information on undergraduate student testing is available through Student Health and Wellness (SHaW): https://studenthealth.uconn.edu/updates-events/coronavirus/.
More information on graduate student testing is available through The Graduate School: https://grad.uconn.edu/coronavirus/faq.
General Campus Access
Instructors teaching in-person courses do not need further authorization to be on campus. All faculty, staff, and students on campus are expected to keep themselves and others safe by wearing a mask in all common areas, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and washing your hands frequently.
You may use on-campus facilities for these purposes. Please make sure to reach out to your department head first and follow any protocol put in place by your college or school to arrange for this.
Common spaces will remain available in many cases, but their capacity will be reduced. Any available common spaces should be arranged to promote social distancing with signage, capacity limits, rearranged furniture, and removal of shared items such as coffee pots. Departments should consult the COVID-19 Guidebook for Department Offices provided by University Planning, Design and Construction, at their Sharepoint site. It provides a variety of examples of common office furniture layouts and how to rearrange or designate seating to maintain social distancing.
The general guidelines for safety apply in common spaces – wear a mask, maintain social distancing, use cleaning supplies where available to clean high touch surfaces after use, and practice regular handwashing. Visit https://reopen.uconn.edu/campus-services/ for more information.
Tests are available for faculty and staff who are going to be on campus for UConn's reopening this fall. This testing process is coordinated through UConn Human Resources for personnel at Storrs and the regional campuses. More information is posted on their website: https://hr.uconn.edu/employee-covid-testing/.
Information on testing for UConn Health personnel is available here: https://health.uconn.edu/coronavirus/staff/.
- At present, time-sensitive domestic research travel for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students will likely be approved. Each traveler must submit a request for an exemption to the waiver that explains why the travel is time sensitive and what health and safety measures they will take to mitigate the potential spread of Covid-19 when traveling.
- Faculty who have long-term international travel (e.g. a sabbatical for a semester in a different country) may also be approved to travel.
- No exemptions will be given for out-of-state conferences or other professional-development travel, or for short-term international travel.
- Requests must be submitted through Concur. A COVID-19 Travel Waiver Request form (found on the travel.uconn.edu website) must be attached to the Travel Request in Concur and will be reviewed by the dean of your school or college, dean of The Graduate School (grad students and postdocs), or EVP to determine whether requested travel is necessary and allowable. An additional approval step has been added to the Concur Travel Request to review for necessity.
- Currently, international travel also requires the submission of a specific travel waiver to Global Affairs: https://global.uconn.edu/home-2/travel-immigration/international-travel-information/
- Exemptions to the travel suspension will be granted according to the nature and destination of the travel. The funding source will not determine whether an exemption will be given.
- Any travel supported by sponsored research still requires an exemption to the travel suspension prior to travel taking place.
- For questions about Concur or booking travel, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For questions about the specifics of an exemption to the travel suspension being granted, contact your Dean, the Office of the Provost (email@example.com), Dean of the Graduate School, or EVP, as appropriate to your circumstances.
- For questions related to international travel, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For questions related to personal (g. vacation) travel or out-of-state commuters, contact email@example.com.
- Broader travel FAQs can be found on the UConn travel website: https://travel.uconn.edu/
Information Technology Services has compiled a resource guide on technology needs. Please visit https://remotework.uconn.edu/equipment-recommendations/ for more detail.
University-owned devices purchased for faculty and staff should meet minimum specifications established by ITS for remote work. ITS manages a workstation refresh program, and all options meet the requirements.
ITS will maintain a local stock of equipment that will be available for purchase:
- Dell Latitude 7400 laptop, 2-in-1 and non-touch clamshells (available at a subsidized rate)
- Logitech H920 Web Cam
- Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad
- Logitech H390 USB Headset
ITS is also stocking a limited number of iPads and accessory kits that they can loan out for teaching labs. The kits include tripods, microphones, styluses, and lights.
Your local IT may coordinate a purchase with ITS or provide instructors and staff with guidance. Reach out to your department head or supervisor if you need to discuss your technology access.
The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers a variety of resources for instructors to prepare their courses for various modalities. This includes guides with best practices, workshops, and videos. Visit https://ecampus.uconn.edu/keep-teaching/ to review resources available.
Student technology training is now available in a new HuskyCT short course that was created by students for students. It will be helpful for students learning online and on-campus. It is available at https://lms.uconn.edu/ultra/courses/_80016_1/cl/outline.
Inclement weather class cancellations apply to all classes -- including those online.
The University will make every effort to continue finals as scheduled to cause minimal disruption. In a typical semester, finals could be canceled because travel to campuses may be restricted because of severe weather. In this semester, where all finals are administered remotely, considerations are based more on Internet access. If, for example, severe weather leads to widespread power outages, the University may need to cancel classes and reschedule finals to a later date. The Office of the Registrar in conjunction with the Office of the Provost will determine the makeup finals schedule in these instances.
If the University cancels classes on a day when a course was scheduled to take an exam (non-final), the exam will need to be rescheduled.
Instructors: In exceptional circumstances when a faculty member determines that they are unable to conduct a class session or deliver an exam because of impacts caused by severe weather, the faculty member must notify his or her dean and department head to identify a solution to allow the class or exam to move forward or to identify an alternative solution.
Students: Students should contact their professors as soon as possible if they must miss a class or other activity due to weather conditions. Faculty should provide options for them to make up missed work.
Storrs & Avery Point students who are impacted by weather and/or power outages who are unable to take an exam as scheduled should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request to reschedule the exam. Regional campus students (Hartford, Stamford & Waterbury) should contact the Regional Campus Student Services staff at their home campus to request to reschedule the exam. The email request should include the following:
Subject line: Request to reschedule final exam
Course Name & Number:
Please provide the reason for concern (i.e., power outage, Wi-Fi outage, etc.).
Human Resources has developed a series of FAQs related to employees and winter weather, at this link: https://hr.uconn.edu/covid-19-hr-faqs/#WW.