Spring 2022 FAQs for Teaching Faculty

The FAQs are taken from comments, questions, town halls, and other feedback. In many cases, the information has been provided in the Faculty Information Guide, Course Planning Memo/Syllabus Template, or the Faculty Resources page on the Provost’s website.

Class Modalities, Meetings, and COVID Testing

Yes, if students test positive from an off-campus testing site or an at-home test they should report it to the College via the self-reporting tool. The College will then inform the DOH. The DOH is the clearing house. The College, currently, doesn’t do the contact tracing. Students should follow the rules of your classroom management plan, which should be developed in alignment with the Excused Absence Policy. For extended absences, students should contact Student Affairs. Student Affairs assists with outreach to faculty. Students must also contact individual instructors for information about how to sustain continuity of learning for each particular class.

You don’t have to reveal that other students have tested positive and given you that information. You can simply encourage your class to go to pool testing regularly. Tell them often, in a general way.

Classes must be delivered using the method of instruction communicated to students in our Schedule of Classes.
In-person classes may have online engagements. In keeping with the Federal Government’s new distance-education regulations, these must entail “regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor.” When and how these engagements take place must be specified for students on syllabi, and the online component must be less than 30% of the contact hours. Consider both student-student interactions and teacher-presence during online activities—and best practices in instructional design also suggests routine feedback on low-stakes activities to help students stay engaged.

The modality of the course controls the modality/location of the corresponding office hours.

From the “Course Planning Memo/Syllabus Template” sent out to all teaching faculty (point 5): Office Hours are essential opportunities for student engagement that must be, as always, specified in syllabi and honored throughout the term. Faculty are expected to establish and hold one office hour per class weekly (e.g., a 3-course load requires 3 hours of office hours weekly), in the same modality of the class. In other words, in-person classes require in-person office hours, and online classes require online office hours. Faculty delivering in-person classes may choose to schedule online engagements with students seeking meetings outside of established office hours. However, faculty delivering online courses cannot require students to be on campus for meetings or any other purpose. 
SUNY has recently underscored that while on residential campuses like ours, ADA exemptions do not extend to teaching modality (in-person classes cannot be moved online), faculty with ADA exemptions may be eligible to have other professional duties, including the modality of their office hours, modified. Please see HR if you are seeking eligibility to hold online office hours for in-person classes. ​​

Yes, meetings can be held online.

If the work unit decides to do so, online meeting options can be made available. 
However, this is not to be used for telecommuting and is not to be made available as a reasonable accommodation under any circumstances. All requests for accommodations and all telecommuting arrangements must be cleared through HR using the appropriate applications. ​​​

The First call should always be to your supervisor/chair. Advanced planning for this is key, but you have several options depending upon how ill you are. Your health/safety comes first, then that of students, then continuity of instruction. If you are too ill to teach, then you and your chair can decide whether a substitute or class cancellation—or alternative assignment—would be best. 

If you feel well enough and it makes sense to you, consider having the class virtually on that day/days. This is not the same as switching modality from in-person to online: you are simply adapting to the needs of the moment. Your syllabus and class conversations about your class management and contingencies should happen early in the semester, and you decide how to connect with students to alert them to any shift designed to maintain instructional integrity.

Reminder: if you have tested positive for Covid, are symptomatic or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, contact Human Resources at x-2518. You may be eligible for Quarantine Leave. Even if not, they need notification. ​​​​​​

First, take care of yourself and monitor your own symptoms, of course, then follow protocols specific to your own vaccination status and medical / family situations—which are no one’s business but yours.

The CDC guidelines are being followed relevant to quarantine and isolation for those who are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated and you do not have symptoms, you can proceed with your class as planned. However, faculty do have an obligation to maintain “continuity of instruction” for students who need to use the Excused Absence Policy because they are sick or have been exposed and need to quarantine. This does not mean that faculty are required to use dual modality. It does mean that you are expected to enable the student, through alternatives to attending class, to keep up with the class. It's not just about making up work; it's also about enabling sustained or continuous learning for the student. Some faculty record and post their lectures or provide PowerPoints or notes. How you handle continuity of instruction is up to you as a teaching professional.

Students who test positive may expect that moving fully online is an option for them while isolating. We are not able to change modality of a course to fully online (for individuals or an entire class) and you are not expected to do so. Faculty are expected to work with students who have excused absences to assist them in meeting the learning outcomes of the course. The TLTC has resources available on their Flexibility in Teaching Modalities, page, and they are willing to consult with faculty about options. Department chairs and Deans are also essential resources; faculty who need assistance in supporting absent students should reach out to their supervisors--but please do not share any protected personal information about students.  

This semester especially, you should plan for absent students, plan for continuity of instruction, plan for contingencies such as multiple missing students—all to be able to communicate that planning and lower the stress load for all in your teaching community.

Classroom management is your responsibility. Your syllabus should reflect your planning for just such an eventuality—including how you will make course materials available. The Excused Absence Policy gives some guidance on the responsibilities of students who cannot—or choose wisely to not—attend classes due to contagion. Some instructors record and upload their lectures, some provide lecture notes: it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to stay current, but a little flexibility and compassion go a long way to lower everyone’s anxiety. You decide how to maintain academic integrity. Planning is the key.

Masking

Faculty have the right to enforce mask-wearing in the classroom. 
The college has a masking requirement for all faculty, staff and students in all buildings. Repeated or significant violations can be reported via the COVID Safety Concern Report Form . If a student does not comply, the faculty member should remind the student of the requirement. If the students persist in non-compliant behavior, whether through negligence or objection to the requirement, the faculty should refer the case to the Office of Student Conduct for review and appropriate disciplinary action. 
Instructors are responsible to maintain a classroom environment that promotes learning. 

See Faculty Information Guide, “Responsibility for Instruction”:
Instructors have a responsibility to maintain an effective learning situation in their classrooms and to deal promptly with any disruptions that interfere with the learning situation. The instructor is in charge of the classroom. If it is felt that a student is interfering with the right of other students to profit from attendance in that classroom or if the instructor feels unreasonably hindered in the presentation of subject matter, the instructor has every right to eject the offending student from class and/or notify the Student Affairs Office of the student’s behavior. Either course of action should be taken with discretion and only for reasonable cause.

Refer to the Student Code of Conduct and the general information available on the website of the Office of Community Standards for more information. ​​​​​​

Supervisors should enforce the masking mandate.

For non-compliant employees, the supervisor should provide a verbal warning followed with a written memo confirming the verbal warning. The next step may be a formal written warning or an immediate step to discipline, depending upon the severity of the mask non-compliance.  HR will assist throughout the process.

Yes, campus community members can ask anyone violating the mask-wearing policy to put on a mask. The most constructive approach to student noncompliance may be to engage conversationally and remind the student of the current requirement or ask them if they forgot their mask or need one. Disposable masks are available for free at the library circulation desk and Hunt Union HuB.

Vaccinations

All students who are taking any in-person classes or using any college facilities must submit proof of vaccinations and boosters as appropriate or have an approved exemption on record in order to remain enrolled. Students are required to get a COVID vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible. If students are eligible for a booster as of January 15, 2022, they must present proof of that booster before January 26th.

Prior to the Spring 2022 semester, all students must complete the mandatory online pre-arrival screening survey. and any student accessing campus facilities, regardless of vaccination status, must provide proof of negative test (or a positive and have been released from isolation within the past 90 days) prior to arrival. ​​​​​​

We are collecting student vaccination data through the Medicat database in the health center. 

Individuals’ vaccine status is protected and cannot be released for publication. We will release only aggregate data related to percentages of students, staff and faculty vaccinated. Once the vaccine is approved and mandated for students, we will work through the health center to confirm students who need a vaccination and the deadline.

No, faculty will not have access to students’ vaccine status and cannot ask students their vaccine status.

Vaccine status, like all health information, is protected data. The College has collected vaccination information and processed exemptions according to federal law. Students with exemptions (medical or religious) will be required to test weekly and their compliance with this requirement will be monitored carefully. All students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks indoors, including in in-person classes.

No, vaccination status will be held confidential by HR.

Masking is now required of both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees; supervisors will provide first line enforcement of masking rules. Only HR will know if an employee has provided proof of vaccination or is undeclared. HR will also know if the undeclared/unvaccinated employees are meeting the weekly testing requirements and will follow up with those employees each week, beginning with warnings and moving to discipline.

Each union—each bargaining unit—has its own terms and conditions of employment, negotiated at the NYS level, but implemented locally. 

We do not have the authority to mandate vaccinations for union members in UUP, PEF, CSEA, etc. However, unvaccinated individuals are required to mask, socially distance whenever possible and be tested weekly.

Exemptions will be permitted.

Students who receive exemptions (medical or religious) will have to test weekly, socially distance when possible, and wear masks (as will vaccinated individuals). SUNY Oneonta will make all best efforts to provide reasonable accommodations for those unable to vaccinate. However, unvaccinated students need to understand that not being fully vaccinated may make it impossible for them to partake in certain learning activities and classes. Consequently, not being vaccinated or fully vaccinated may impede a student’s progress to degree completion depending on the requirements of the academic program.

Faculty do not have the right to ask or otherwise seek information about the vaccine status of students.

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) limits disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to identified “school officials” with a “legitimate educational interest.” Faculty, chairs, and directors have not been identified as having educational interests that would require them to know of religious and medical vaccination exemptions, or which students are partially vaccinated. We may want to know, but do not need to know, this information according to SUNY Legal.

Here are important things to keep in mind:

  • Faculty may not ask students if they have an exemption. 
  • Students are free to volunteer but the information must remain confidential. 
  • Any student with an approved exemption is responsible for being masked at all times and maintaining social distance whenever possible. 

Other resources for interacting effectively with and supporting students can be found through links to the TLTC, the Faculty Center, and the Provost’s Faculty Resources site. 

Accommodations

It is SUNY’s position that, with the exception of Empire, SUNY is an in-person teaching system which means that teaching in person is an essential function of the role and is therefore not subject to an accommodation to in-person teaching. 

SUNY has clarified that ADA exemptions to change the modality of a course will not be given because teaching is the essential duty of faculty on residential campuses like ours. Instead, an example of a reasonable accommodation for a teaching faculty member on a residential campus would be providing a microphone or a mobility device for a faculty member to be able to be in the classroom. By extension, courses should not be transitioned to online modality to accommodate an ADA request. Only those courses previously designated and approved through the normal academic review process as “online” should be taught online; this does not include courses taught online or in hybrid mode due to the pandemic. Please note: all Oneonta undergraduate programs are registered as in-person programs. This means that through our local shared governance process we cannot approve (nor subsequently deliver) more than 50% of the courses in each program online without submitting program re-registrations to SUNY and the State Education Department and undergoing an additional review process by our accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

SUNY also requires ADA exemptions for modifications of other faculty responsibilities, including advisement assignments and office hours. If a faculty member requests an ADA accommodation, it may be granted for the portion of their assignment related to advising, office hours, etc. Faculty seeking ADA accommodations for modifications of their duties are encouraged to contact HR for further information and help with any questions or concerns.

There are distinctions in ADA requirements between students and employees.

Student accommodation requests are measured against what is reasonable to allow students to participate in offered educational activities – they have a different threshold.  So, for instance, an accommodation can include something as simple as a note taker or as expensive as paying for a translator (for deaf or hearing-impaired students) or installing a mobility sling in a residence hall room so the student can shower and move about the apartment. The Excused Absence Policy for students is a college-wide policy, relevant in many situations, not just a pandemic. It is vastly different from the standards applied to employment.

Yes, attending departmental meetings virtually can be considered a reasonable accommodation, depending upon the disability in question. Faculty seeking such a modification of professional obligations should contact HR. 

The ADA application/approval waiver is required since we are a residential campus. ​​​​​​

Yes, instructors should include the sections on ADA and emergency evacuations.

The syllabus template instructs faculty to link to the Course Policies and Procedures page, and that link allows instructors to just note in their syllabus (if it is digital only) that all relevant policies, including (by name) ADA, etc., are easily available. (It also says to duplicate policies if distributing paper copies): https://suny.oneonta.edu/office-provost/course-policies-and-procedures

Of particular importance this semester as we re-engage and rebuild community is the need for discussions about expectations, policies and procedures related to your administration of the learning environment in each class. Some faculty have noted that they communicate with students before the first class to share the email, welcome them, perhaps note a few things—this semester even perhaps reminding them to bring a mask.

We are fully back within policy effective Spring 2022: courses must be approved through the established campus process and instructors both must be certified appropriately. Instructors must have completed the College’s Online Learning Instruction Certification Program.

Additional Resources:

 

CDC Key Things to know about Vaccines

CDC Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education

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