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All University Park employees, graduate and undergraduate students supported on wage payroll, and students supported on graduate assistantships must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Dec. 8, per federal vaccine mandate. Read more >>

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While faculty are not required to offer a remote option to students who are in quarantine and isolation, HHD continues to encourage faculty to practice compassion and flexibility with students, especially those who test positive, have been exposed, or just may be feeling ill and not sure if they should come to class.  

If there’s uncertainty about whether a student absence will be considered acceptable for make-up work to be completed or whether a student can stay up-to-date with class content when absent, this may have the unintended effect of decreasing testing, reducing the effectiveness of contact tracing or having students come to class while experiencing symptoms.

To support students in doing the right thing to protect others, we encourage faculty to proactively communicate to their classes how they plan to show compassion and flexibility in supporting students in quarantine or isolation, as well as those feeling symptomatic, and to support testing and vaccination in their communications:  

For example, consider the following:

  • Create a zoom option, but clearly note that it is available only to students in quarantine or isolation or those students who have contacted faculty prior to class indicating they are symptomatic

  • Consider sharing sample data for your students to analyze (as if students completed the experiment) so they can still have practice working with the data
  • Consider creating a video recording of your lab experiment that students can watch and learn from online (See “Do It Yourself Video Recording“)
  • Search the University’s Open Educational Resources (OER) website and also OASIS (Openly Available Sources Integrated Search, from SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library) for potential online lab simulations that may fit with your curriculum
  • Need to figure out a different way to do an assessment? See Adapting Assessments to a Remote Teaching Environment
  • Post lecture notes for students or have a few students volunteer to share their notes with other students in Canvas, Sharepoint or Google docs.
  • Instructors, TAs and undergraduate peer learning assistants can hold remote office hours/problem solving sessions/review sessions/Q&A sessions to be able to respond to any areas where students are struggling 
  • Assist students in creating a virtual study group (keeplearning.psu.edu/topics/effective-learning/virtual-study-groups/), and work with TA, undergraduate peer learning assistants or students in the class to use these study groups to support students who cannot attend 

  • Communicate to students about the testing and vaccination options regularly and encourage both vaccinated and unvaccinated students to test frequently 

  • Regularly remind students of the support resources available to them, and include information appropriate to students in quarantine or isolation in an email response when you learn of their situation: 

Additional ideas on contingency planning for instructor and student absences can be found at this website and this document.

It’s also important for instructors and staff to be supported. Speak with your department head about the issues you face. Take advantage of the resources available to employees. Reach out to HHD Human Resources with questions or concerns.

Sample response to notification or student communication about quarantine or isolation

If you wish, you can use this sample response to notification or student communication about quarantine or isolation. This can be sent individually to students when you are notified or modified and sent to all students in the class regarding absences. It could also be modified and created as a page for students in your Canvas course:

Dear STUDENTNAME: 

I’m sorry to hear that you’ll need to be absent from class and hope that if you are feeling ill that you will be back on your feet soon. 

I am writing to let you know how you can continue to be successful in my class during this absence. Here are some of the course and other supports you will have available: 

LIST/DESCRIBE THE OPTIONS YOU WILL PROVIDE.

I hope that this email answers any questions you might have about how you can be successful in the course during your absence. If you have any questions, EXPLAIN HOW YOU WANT STUDENTS TO HANDLE QUESTIONS.