COVID Teaching Considerations and Guidelines Fall Semester 2021
Class Attendance Tracking (please follow AOP 12.09)
• Attendance should be reported for all students. Faculty are encouraged to report absences,
especially for freshmen, in a timely manner.
• Progress grade are due Sep. 26 and Oct. 22. Attendance should be reported more regularly than
• Attendance Scanners are available in numerous classrooms. ITS will be hosting training sessions
on August 16, and 17. Please see the following link for more information about attendance tracking and reporting. https://servicedesk.msstate.edu/TDClient/45/Portal/KB/ArticleDet?ID=1094
• Course attendance should be taken during each course meeting and recorded information in Banner Attendance Tracking. Attendance can be determined by a variety of mechanisms, including:
link (dependent on class size)
Class Absences (please follow AOP 12.09)
• Students who miss class for any medical reason (COVID-related or otherwise) may be asked by
faculty to obtain official documentation to have the absence counted as an excused absence. If students must quarantine because of exposure to COVID, faculty may ask them to provide medical documentation as they would for any other excused absence.
• Faculty members are ultimately responsible for decisions regarding the academic implications of any absence(s), as long as it is supported through the university’s attendance policy outlined in AOP 12.09 Class Attendance & Reporting Absences. Faculty are encouraged to first have a conversation with students about class absences. Absence verification(s) should be sent to the Dean of Students’ office ONLY IF a faculty member requires verification of the documentation. The website is:
• Faculty must include their attendance policy and any associated grade penalties (clarify the parameters for presence, absence, tardiness) in their syllabus, and must adhere to that policy equitably for all students.
• As indicated in AOP 13.03: Faculty Responsibilities in Instruction and Curriculum, and Attendance at Classes, syllabi must be provided in both digital version via Canvas and hard copy in class.
• Attendance policies should include expectations on how and when students must submit documentation and any timelines for completing missed work.
• For online classes, or classes utilizing online engagement, faculty members should outline expectations for online attendance and participation in the attendance policy in the course syllabus.
• If students need to miss several classes because of illness or to quarantine, faculty should provide reasonable assistance to help them catch up with the material. While it is not required that faculty provide recordings of class sessions that students miss, faculty are encouraged to use the available classroom technology to record class sessions so they could be made available. If technology is not available for such purposes, faculty should follow best practices in assisting students who miss class. We also recommend that faculty encourage students to make connections with others in the class or form study groups early on in the semester so that they have peers they can contact for class notes if they have to be absent.
• Faculty may choose to develop continuity of instruction mechanism for those students who need extended excused absences.
Some instructional continuity strategies to consider include:
Utilize streaming capabilities in the classroom, if applicable.
If using a laptop and smart podium classroom (i.e., connecting laptop to the
projector, open Webex), faculty may also choose to live stream and/or record their classes or prepare alternate virtual assignments/exams and provide link and/or release them only to students with documented excused absences or verified quarantine requirements, as necessary.
If a faculty member chooses to use streaming capabilities of any kind, they may also choose to record the sessions in the event that they wish to share class meetings with students who have excused absences.
Use of Canvas Discussion Board or written responses to discussion prompts for discussion-based courses (Canvas allows for students to only see their fellow students’ responses after they have provided their own response—to keep students from cribbing earlier responses).
Use of web-based engagements that can be done in real time (Mentimeter.com is one example).
In project-based or applied learning style courses where live-streaming may not be a viable or useful option, faculty may choose to develop short term (5 or 10 day) assignments that may be accomplished at home (without specialized equipment or materials) for students who are well enough to continue school work, but unable to attend class.
In project-based or applied learning style courses such as labs or studios where necessary materials/equipment make it impossible to accomplish the course learning outcomes outside the classroom/studio/lab, faculty may choose to offer one, some, or periodic “open lab” days that allow students with excused absences to accomplish missed work collectively with other students.
• Face-to-face classes will not be required to offer online accommodations unless as a result of a reasonable accommodation required for a student with a disability which will be facilitated through the Disability Resource Center. Students should enroll in courses with online delivery if they need or prefer online instruction.
• If reasonable accommodations cannot be provided for extended or excessive absences, a student should seek advice with the office of the Dean of Students and may need to consider withdrawing from one or more courses.
Masks and Vaccination Status
• Faculty may not inquire about a student’s vaccination status or require proof of vaccination for
university sponsored classes, programs, activities, etc.
• As announced August 3, 2021, faculty, students, staff and visitors are required to wear masks indoors when on campus, regardless of vaccination status, until the university provides notice otherwise.
COVID-19 Guidance for Exposure and Contact
• University employees should consult this page for detailed guidance:
• If you are vaccinated, you are not required to quarantine if you have been exposed to COVID unless you are symptomatic.
• If you are unvaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact the COVID Hotline at the Longest Student Health Center for guidance at 662-325-2055.
• Regardless of vaccination status, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact the COVID Hotline at the Longest Student Health Center for guidance at 662-325-2055.
• Faculty should expect to hold regularly scheduled weekly office hours, and may use a mix of in-
person and online meeting times.
• Based on current university guidance faculty may require students to wear a mask in their
personal offices. Faculty may also request that students meet them in alternate spaces (such as departmental conference rooms, available classrooms, outside seating areas). The university will provide subsequent information should guidance on masks change.
Faculty Absences (please follow AOP 13.03)
• Classes should be conducted in the delivery mode indicated on the master class schedule
(synchronous online, asynchronous online, in person, etc.).
• If a faculty member must miss class, they should announce the absence in a timely way and
provide equivalent/alternate instruction.
• If a faculty member must take an extended absence from class, they should follow the normal
administrative procedure with the dean and department head being responsible for finding an instructor to cover the class.
• Fall 2021 syllabi are required to have the following university statements:
o Attendancepolicyforface-to-faceinstruction o Continuityofinstruction
• Faculty may choose whether to include the following optional university statements:
• Full text of these statements can be found at https://www.instructionalguide.msstate.edu/resources/syllabus-statements
Student Conduct Issues
• Students disrupting class or office hours, or interfering with the learning of other students over
mask/vaccine disagreements, should be asked to leave on the first incident. If there are future incidents, refer the student to the Dean of Students office at link below or https://www.students.msstate.edu/make-referral or call 662-325.3611
Vaccination and COVID Testing on Campus
• You can sign up to get the free COVID-19 vaccine here: https://covidvaccine.msstate.edu/
• You can get tested for COVID-19 at the Longest Student Health Center.