General COVID-19 Information
The Coronavirus Health Advisory page is updated regularly to keep the Suffolk community well informed.
Our faculty search season for this year is almost over. Any remaining interviews will rely on distance technology. Please consult with your Chair and Dean if you have any questions.
What does the impact of Covid-19 mean for my annual review, third-year review, tenure and promotion review, tenure clock?
Information about an automatic one-year postponement of third year reviews and tenure reviews was sent from the provost directly to each affected faculty member. Please consult your deans’s office with any questions about these reviews or questions about the annual review process in your school.
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.
Classrooms will be reconfigured to ensure social distancing, and air handling systems have been optimized to increase fresh air changeover and filtration.
Students will be responsible for cleaning their own workstations in the classrooms with disinfectant wipes that we will make available in all classrooms. In Hyflex courses students serving as Technology Facilitators will be responsible for the faculty workstations. ABM will clean all classrooms during the overnight hours, including routine disinfecting.
Facilities and ABM will be installing higher rated, more efficient filters in the HVAC system prior to everyone coming back to campus. Facilities will also be increasing the percentage of fresh air entering the air handling system.
While we are committed to providing testing for individuals in our community who are at increased risk for infection as a key component of our reopening plan, the testing plan is still being developed. Comprehensive testing plan details will be shared with the entire community in the coming weeks. At this time we can confirm that:
- Residential students will be tested twice weekly
- Commuter students who will be coming to campus will be tested once weekly
- Employees (staff and faculty) who will be coming to campus and interacting frequently with students and/or using public transportation will be tested once weekly
- Tests will be provided at a designated site on campus at no cost to the individual
- Tests will be conducted via self-swab and will detect active infection
- Results will be sent to each person confidentially (electronically) in approximately 24 hours
- Positive tests results will automatically be reported to the public health authorities (MDPH/BPHC)
- Compliance with the prescribed testing schedule will be linked to an app on each participant's smartphone. Participants will use this app to complete self-attestation/health screenings each day in order to gain access to buildings on campus. Participants will also need to be tested on their assigned day, and the result will need to be negative (or the required isolation period will need to have been completed) to gain access
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.
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.
Will students be outfitted with mics? If not, will they be allowed to take off their face coverings for classroom discussions?
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.
Do the faculty own the materials they create in order to teach in an online, hyflex, or hybrid format this Fall?
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.
Yes, faculty are expected to record student attendance in all their classes, regardless of the modality. They should implement and enforce the attendance policy that they have included in their syllabi. Please note that the Department of Education expects student participation in online classes, beyond simply logging in, when attendance is certified.
Yes. It is important to record F2F attendance because some students are required to attend class in person, unless they are ill. To monitor F2F attendance in those classes, faculty should proceed the same way they would in a regular F2F class.
I’m lecturing in the fall. Instead of wearing a face covering, are there alternatives to face masks, such as plexiglass barriers or face shields for lecturers in face to face courses? I am concerned that a face covering will hinder my ability to communicate effectively.
The IRT has worked with members of the Faculty Senate on the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will be available for faculty teaching on campus this fall. They will receive:
- Two reusable Suffolk branded face coverings
- One reusable cloth face covering with a plastic window and anti-fog solution
- One clear face shield
Seating will be arranged to ensure social distancing between not only the students but also the faculty member. Although not required, moveable plexiglass barriers to provide an additional layer of protection and a physical barrier will be available in these classrooms for any faculty member to use, in addition to wearing a face mask, if they wish. For faculty who prefer to use a clear face shield instead of a face mask, the face shield must be combined with a plexiglass barrier. A face shield alone, or a plexiglass barrier alone is not sufficient.
Can faculty or students supply their own face covering, instead of using the reusable cloth face masks provided by the University?
Yes, faculty and students may use their own face coverings, following guidance from the CDC.
Students in Hyflex courses have the option to attend F2F or remotely, but if Hyflex or synchronous Online classes are held between 7am and 10pm in the student’s local time, students should attend synchronously. If they are taking the course from a location that means they would need to be online before 7AM or after 10PM at their local time to attend the class, they can participate asynchronously. Only in specific circumstances (e.g. when a student is sick for a period of time, or again, when the student lives in a country outside of that timeframe) faculty would need to accommodate students so they can take the course in an asynchronous way. If students work or have other commitments, they should choose courses that do not conflict with their other commitments. Attendance policy in courses is set by the instructors and is included in the course syllabus.
The CTSE Continuity of Learning website is an excellent resource for distance teaching information. Please look for CTSE Continuity of Learning Support and Updates sent by email. You may also find the Sawyer Library Continuity of Learning LibGuide useful. Many department Chairs are meeting regularly and are also great resource.
The Coronavirus Advisory webpage is an excellent first step. Another useful resource is the Suffolk University Community. In addition, your Deans office will be able to answer questions about grading and course evaluation policies.
What should I consider in determining the balance between synchronous versus nonsynchronous classes?
It is important to understand the specific student population within your class and the scheduled class time (e.g., international students, early morning classes with domestic students living on the West coast). With this information, consult with the CTSE Continuity of Learning website, your Chair, Program Director, and/or your Deans office to find the best options.
If your course is an internship based and/or service learning based course and students can no longer attend their sites, please consult your Chair and Dean’s Office to determine the best options.
In Blackboard, there will be an online course for students called “How to be Successful in an Online Learning Environment." The course will be required for all new first-year students this fall and will be embedded as an assignment in the one-credit first-year experience courses. For other undergraduate and graduate students, it will be available as an optional free-standing course in Blackboard. Faculty teaching upper-level and graduate courses should encourage their students to take it. Some of the course topics include online classroom netiquette and participation, Zoom fatigue, staying focused and engaged, time management, library research and resources, academic support services, and Zoom/Blackboard demos.
The Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center is open and operational. All medical and counseling services are being provided using HIPAA-secure telemedicine and remote access technology. Students can make appointments for private consultation with providers. The Interfaith Center, Suffolk Cares, Student Affairs, and Student Success are also in full operation.
Employees in need of emotional support are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program for assistance. For more information visit the EAP website, enter “Suffolk University” for the company name, and “guest” for the password, or call them at 1-800-828-6025.
No. You still have your full benefits coverage.