UTK Faculty Senate President's COVID FAQ Page for Faculty 2021-2022

Louis J. Gross, Chancellor's Professor and Alvin and Sally Beaman Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics

Faculty Senate Home Page

This page is a summary of main processes for UTK faculty regarding campus Covid response, classroom policies and other issues related to the campus. It is my best assessment at this time of guidance for faculty, however it will likely change as the semester proceeds and as guidance from campus administration changes. Please note that these are not "official" Faculty Senate procedures but rather are what I gather from my interactions with faculty and administrators across campus. I am doing this at the behest of the Faculty Senate Leadership who requested this given the variety of messages being distributed prior to the start of classes in Fall 2021.

Student Conduct and Community Standards Guidance for Faculty and Staff regarding Classroom Face Coverings August 9, 2021

This guidance encourages faculty in classroom situations to (i) model appropriate behavior by wearing a face covering, being kind and respectful of all students; (ii) remind students of campus policy regarding face coverings in indoor classrooms, that there is strong scientific evidence of the public health benefits of face coverings indoors; (iii) consider carefully how to manage issues of students with medical conditions that may preclude face coverings; and (iv) if a student refuses to conform to policy ask them to leave the classroom.

Departmental offices will have masks available to hand to students who enter a classroom without a mask. Take some with you to each class. The process is to ask a student entering a class without a face covering to put one on, offer them one if they don't have one, and if they refuse ask them to leave the classroom unless they have a medical reason approved by Disability Services.

Regarding students with a medical condition that may preclude face covering, direct them to Disability Services. I suggest putting this on your class syllabus and making it clear that it is the student's responsibility to obtain a written notice from Disability Services to provide to you at the first class meeting if they have a medical reason to not wear a face covering. You may also receive an email about this from Disability Services and if you have a large class, I suggest compiling these in a list and asking any student not wearing a mask if they have a medical reason and checking if they are on the list.

Faculty members have the responsibility for the conduct of their classes. If a student is being disruptive and interfering with the classroom procedures, follow your own judgement as to how to proceed as you would with any classroom disruption, including if necessary for the safety of the students, dismissing the class and reporting the disruptive student to the Student Conduct office.

Beginning students are typically advised to introduce themselves to their instructors at the first class. For large classes this often leads to a line-up of students at the front of the class to introduce themselves to you at the first or second class. You may choose to discourage this during your classes in order to foster social distancing - if so inform the class at the beginning and end of class and encourage students to meet with you individually.

Faculty and staff members have control over their spaces. This implies that you can indeed inform students that masks are required in meetings with you in your office. Consider offering all students the possibility to meet with you remotely if for safety reasons you prefer that over in-person meetings.

Faculty and staff members have control over their spaces. This implies it is up to the faculty involved to decide unit policies regarding face coverings in student committee meetings, faculty meetings, etc. or whether to hold these remotely.

COVID Guidelines for Campus from Chancellor Plowman (link) August 2, 2021

Return to Campus Guidance from Provost Zomchick (link) August 2, 2021

Faculty Senate President's Letter to all Faculty on return to campus (pdf) August 2, 2021

Information on mask availability to departments on campus from Vice Chancellor Cimino (.txt) August 15,2021

Responses of some units to Covid challenges (.txt) August 16, 2021

Instructors in classrooms without a speaker system now can request portable speaker systems from OIT that can enhance intelligibility when speaking through a mask. Details to enroll are here and thanks to OIT for a very quick response to obtain these and make them available.

Set of slides from Professor Christopher Fedo of Earth and Planetary Sciences that he used as an introduction for the term to enhance learning about Covid and has made available for all faculty to use as appropriate (pptx file) August 19, 2021

Note to UTK faculty regarding campus mask mandate changes announced by Chancellor Plowman on Dec 1, 2021 (txt) Dec. 1, 2021
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Last Modified: Aug 17, 2021