On-Campus Teaching FAQs

Updated June 29, 2020

Suffolk University is developing a number of plans to address the public health issues associated with in-person teaching this fall, which will comply with State and City regulations and CDC guidelines. Even though we do not have firm answers to some of the questions that we have received so far, we expect to have more information to share with you by early to mid-July. We are also working on a draft of a COVID prevention Plan/Return to Campus Guide that will provide more specific information. This page outlines what we know at this time.

All students, faculty, and staff will receive a set of reusable cloth face coverings. Face coverings will be required for traversing campus (even outside) and campus buildings, as well as for in-person instruction and for open office arrangements. Cloth face coverings do not need to be worn in personal offices if no other personnel are present. Cloth face coverings will not replace or supersede task-specific personal protective equipment (“PPE”) requirements.

All students, faculty and staff will be required to complete an online COVID-19 safety training program. Topics will include proper hand hygiene, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, signs and symptoms, how to wear and remove PPE, care and maintenance of reusable face coverings, and relevant policies and procedures.

We realize that some faculty may be concerned that wearing a cloth face covering may prevent them from being able to effectively communicate with students for a number of reasons (e.g., large space, prolonged period of time, or teaching hearing impaired students). To address this potential issue we are looking into a number of options, including clear face coverings, face shields, and potentially plexiglass booths for instructors.

We are currently developing a plan for classroom preparation that will include a thorough cleaning plan. It will be finalized in early July.

Every classroom will have a drawer to keep the CDC recommended and EPA-approved disinfectant materials.

Student facilitators will be responsible for cleaning and setting up the facilitator/instructor IT equipment and workstation in the classroom as part of their compensated duties. They will receive training and ongoing support from EHS.

We are evaluating building facilities operations, including HVAC systems. We are looking into the possibility of upgrading filters and increasing the amount of fresh air that is introduced into each space.

We are currently working on a comprehensive testing and self-attestation plan that will be ready by mid-July. While the details will evolve along with health and safety guidance, we expect that any program will include a system of required daily self-monitoring to ensure that anyone who is planning on coming to campus is not experiencing any of the COVID-related symptoms.

For hyflex classes, we will only use classrooms that have appropriate video and audio equipment. ITS and Media Services are currently working to augment IT video and audio equipment in classrooms in order to expand the number of classrooms that are suitable for hyflex instruction. 26 classrooms already have the required equipment, and we will be working to equip an additional 25 classrooms by the end of the summer. These additional 25 classrooms will also include an additional display in the back of the classroom that will act as a secondary computer monitor to facilitate showing the faces of students taking the class online.

If a student appears in class without a face covering, the faculty member should give the student a disposable mask from a supply in the locker the student facilitator has access to, and report the student to the Student Affairs Office (CAS/SBS) or the Law School Dean of Students (law). If the student refuses to wear a face covering or social distance, the faculty member should ask the student to leave the classroom and report the student to Student Affairs.

The Student Affairs Office will respond to reports of CAS/SBS students who do not comply with required face coverings and social distancing. First violations will result in an educational conversation with the student, to determine why the face covering was not worn, to make sure the student has access to appropriate PPE (or to address any other social distancing protocol), and to warn the student that future reports will result in disciplinary action. CAS/SBS faculty may alert Student Affairs to noncomplying students by submitting an incident report.

The Law School Dean of Students Office will respond to concerns about law students.

Further noncompliance will be considered a violation of the relevant code of conduct.

Students will receive extensive education before they arrive, and they will be required to watch a video and to affirm as part of the e-Checkin process that they will fully comply with our requirements which include wearing face coverings in class and on campus, and maintaining appropriate distance from others.

We are currently developing protocols on how to work with and support students who get exposed to the coronavirus. The protocols will be ready in early July.

Based on recent studies, a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”). And even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this evidence, the CDC recommends staying at least 6 ft. apart from others and wearing cloth face coverings to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Classrooms will be set up consistent with social distancing standards.

  • Classroom capacities will be significantly reduced to ensure that we can maintain social distancing. The new occupancy limits will be posted outside of the room.
  • Faculty desks, lecterns and podiums will be at a minimum 6 ft. away from students.

In areas where it may be difficult to maintain adequate social distancing, we are looking into installing physical barriers (i.e. plexiglass) in order to provide safe separation.

To help manage compliance with COVID-19 adjusted room occupancy limits, we are speaking to several different vendors who have created software and mobile applications to control population density. For example, students could be required to use one of these systems to reserve a student lounge area or even a seat for a set period of time. By having to reserve assigned spaces, we can limit the number of people within an enclosed area, ensure that they maintain social distancing, and aid in contact tracing if someone in that space subsequently experiences symptoms.

In some buildings, hallways and stairwells may be designated as one-way to prevent congestion and maintain social distancing.

Based upon current recommended health and safety guidelines, we will provide more transition time between classes. To accommodate this need for extra time and to facilitate social distancing, class meeting patterns have been modified. Transition times between classes will range between 20 and 30 minutes depending on the scheduled class time.

Most classrooms are already equipped with lavaliere microphones. We are looking at the issue of shared microphones and whether to provide each faculty member with their own microphone head, because that is the portion of the microphone that is clipped to the shirt/jacket and most likely to be contaminated by the user.

Faculty will be provided with their own erasers and markers.

The number of Purell stands and dispensers throughout the campus will be increased.

At this time we are only considering mics for faculty. We do not anticipate that students will need to wear personal microphones. The number of students in each classroom will be greatly reduced from our normal capacity by safety requirements.

Students will need to wear face coverings at all times while they are in class. As noted above, face coverings will be required for traversing campus (even outside) and campus buildings, as well as for in-person instruction and for open office arrangements.

This topic will be included as part of CTSE’s extensive educational development opportunities for faculty who will be teaching in the hyflex environment. The schedule will be available in mid-July.

We are developing a student facilitator program to provide assistants for faculty teaching hyflex courses. We are currently developing the job description and the recruitment and selection process.

Every hyflex course will have one student facilitator responsible to assist with setting up and handling the IT equipment in the classroom and facilitating discussions with students watching the class online. Student facilitators will receive a stipend and be trained in technology and hygiene considerations.

CTSE is planning extensive educational development opportunities for faculty who will be teaching in the hyflex environment and will be releasing a schedule of events in mid-July.

The University IT Service Desk will be available 24/7 and will be responsible for any technical problems.

Because faculty offices are small and it would be difficult to achieve social–distancing of 6’, individual appointments should initially be held remotely. Any individual face to face ("F2F") meetings should be held in a conference room or other larger space that will provide social distancing of 6’. Face coverings must be worn at all times.

The reason there is no specific public health guidance to limit the amount of time that classes can gather is because there are so many factors that come into play that mitigate risk to classroom occupants (e.g., number of occupants in the room, cubic feet of space, percentage of fresh air entering HVAC system, number of air exchanges, filter efficiency, etc.). With so much that is still unknown (i.e., how long exactly viral particles stay suspended in the air), the safest thing we can do is to implement control measures to reduce the risk of transmission. Through frequent testing, daily monitoring, reduced capacity, social distancing, wearing face covers, frequent cleaning/disinfection, and adjusting the HVAC system (when possible) we have reduced the risk significantly. The science is clear that there are extremely meaningful ways that we can mitigate risk but we cannot remove it altogether.

Yes. Under the IP policy set out in the University Faculty Handbook, faculty expressly own faculty-created course materials and works of scholarship. The policy allows an exception for commissioned works, but that does not apply to the courses being taught online/hyflex/hybrid this fall that normally would have been taught as traditional F2F. The policy also allows an exception in the case of “substantial use of University resources.” The University does not consider the current circumstances, where courses have pivoted from F2F to hybrid or online because of COVID-19, to involve a “substantial use of University resources” creating any University ownership interest.