Academic Information for Faculty & Staff Regarding the Return to In-Person Instruction
January 14, 2022
This message was sent to faculty and staff by the Provost on January 14, 2022.
In This Message
- The Return to In-Person Instruction
- Accommodating Faculty Illness & Quarantine
- Accommodating Student Illness & Quarantine
- Support for Instructional Technology
As the Return Oversight Committee shared in Wednesday’s announcement, Drexel will be returning to in-person instruction for the week of January 17.
As our public health leaders have shared, the COVID-19 cases we have seen in our community are coming from social settings outside of the classroom. Many infections understandably occurred during the winter holiday season, and cases among the Drexel community have recently been decreasing. All cases are fully investigated, and to date, there has been no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in Drexel’s academic, research or administrative spaces since returning to in-person instruction in the fall. This is thanks to the commitment of the full Drexel community to vaccinate, get booster shots when eligible, mask and prioritize the health and safety of all.
The Return to In-Person Instruction
We have taken every step recommended by our medical and public health experts to facilitate the return to in-person instruction and the on-campus experience. Although courses have been taught remotely for the past two weeks, the University has remained open, including the Rec Center, Libraries, residence halls and dining facilities. While many students have expressed the desire to return, I know others are anxious about returning to in-person instruction and have requested for Drexel to offer all courses in remote and face-to-face modalities.
As most of you know, the University does not have the capacity to offer all courses in both face-to-face and remote modalities and has not done so at any point during the pandemic. Because we cannot offer all courses in both formats, we cannot universally accommodate student requests to remain remote. However, where possible, we ask that you do all that you can to support our students during this challenging time. If a student is having temporary challenges related to the pandemic that can be accommodated for a limited period, we need to make every effort to support them. More guidance on how to do so can be found below.
Accommodating Faculty Illness & Quarantine
As we have throughout the pandemic, we encourage faculty to prepare in advance for possible absence due to illness or quarantine. If a faculty or staff member feels sick or believes they have been exposed to COVID-19, they should refer to the recently revised page “What to Do If You Feel Sick” on the Response to Coronavirus website.
For suggested approaches to adapting classes in these circumstances or for tips to help faculty best prepare for potential illness or required isolation/quarantine, please refer to this page with guidance for faculty. Please note that faculty members should not switch their in-person courses to remote instruction without prior approval from their dean or the COVID Surveillance Team.
Accommodating Student Illness & Quarantine
Students who become ill or require isolation during the term have been told to refer to the Response to Coronavirus page on “What to Do If You Feel Sick” and inform their instructors as soon as possible that they will be absent from class. Additional guidance for faculty is below:
- Instructors should make appropriate accommodations for student illness, and can refer to this list of suggestions for accommodating student absences due to illness or quarantine for guidance.
- We strongly suggest that faculty acknowledge student concerns about missing class due to illness or quarantine and let students know in advance that they have strategies in place to accommodate student absences.
- Recording classes for students to access online or by request remains an important strategy for accommodating student illness or isolation/quarantine. Faculty are also encouraged to use HyFlex technology if they are willing and able to do so.
- Please remember that students should not be forced to withdraw from a course due to mandatory quarantine or isolation. Additionally, instructors cannot ask a student for a doctor’s note. If an instructor is concerned that a student is providing false information regarding the reasons for their absence from class, they should refer to the “Other Absences” section of the Absence from Class policy.
- While HyFlex teaching and recording of courses is encouraged whenever possible, instructors should not switch in-person courses to remote instruction without prior approval from their dean or the COVID Surveillance Team. Similar to fall quarter, if the COVID Surveillance Team were to become aware of more than one student with a COVID-19 infection in a particular classroom that cannot easily be explained based upon exposure(s) outside the classroom, they would contact the professor with further instructions concerning the method of course delivery. Conversely, if a faculty member notes a high absenteeism rate in a single class and they have not been contacted by the COVID Surveillance Team, they should email COVIDTracing@Drexel.edu to ascertain how to proceed.
Support for Instructional Technology
If an instructor has a question about the technology available in their assigned classrooms and whether it could be used to support accommodations for student absences, they can contact Instructional Media Services (215-895-2925, email@example.com). If it is determined that the instructor needs access to HyFlex technology that is not currently available in the classroom, the instructor may contact the Office of the University Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org at University City; email@example.com at Center City) to inquire about reserving an alternative classroom.
I know that all of Drexel’s faculty and staff members — many of whom are dealing with their own extenuating circumstances — have been working diligently to prioritize student success and prepare for in-person learning. I am grateful for all of your hard work and look forward to once again seeing you on campus.
Paul E. Jensen
Executive Vice President
Nina Henderson Provost