Dear Academic Staff and Faculty,
As the fall semester approaches, I want to send all faculty and staff a warm welcome. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us in ways we never thought possible, for much longer than any of us hoped. As we welcome our students back this fall, we are also keeping a watchful eye on what is happening in the community.
It is important that we keep health and safety in mind for our return to campus, and UNT’s Health Crisis Team (HCT) will continue to monitor our campus and community health conditions, CDC guidelines and Texas COVID requirements to guide health-related practices on campus. As guidelines and mandates change, the HCT reviews all relevant information, considers the impact on the campus community and recommends change that best serves our students, staff and faculty.
We understand that a return to our work routine is an adjustment and may be stressful for students and colleagues. Living in a world of uncertainty has been difficult for us all. It is exciting to be able to offer students a learning experience they would normally expect at UNT, but it also generates many questions.
A webinar was held on August 10 to answer many of the questions that faculty may have as they prepare to return to campus and the classroom. Below is a summary of topics from that webinar to help prepare you for the fall semester. A link to the webinar recording, the presentation with active links and other resources for academic staff and faculty can be found on the Return to Learn website.
Continuity of Teaching
- Classroom layouts illustrating the furniture configuration for each classroom are posted on the Classroom Support Services website.
- In accordance with Governor Abbott’s Executive Order 36 Prohibiting Government Entities From Mandating Masks, face coverings are not required at UNT. However, UNT is strongly encouraging everyone to wear a face covering when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. We ask our faculty and staff to lead by example and wear a face covering.
- Syllabus statements for face coverings, attendance and course materials for alternative instruction are posted in the syllabus template available on the CLEAR website.
- A seating chart and daily attendance is strongly recommended to aid in the contact tracing process. Instructions for creating a seating chart are on the CLEAR website, or you can create your own seating chart using the floor plan for your classroom.
- Faculty may resume the learning experiences they would normally use in their classes, including guest speakers, field trips, and team projects.
- There are 28 HyFlex/Advanced Synchronous Rooms on campus that enable absent students to join class remotely and engage in class discussions. See the list of classrooms on the Return to Learn website.
- DSI Classroom Support is available to help with instructional technology equipment needs (cameras, microphones, document cameras, etc.) and how to implement technology in your course. Contact Classroom Support at ClassroomSupport@unt.edu or 940-565-2691.
- Each classroom will have a green camouflage bucket with sanitizing spray and other cleaning supplies. These supplies can be used by faculty and students to clean work spaces. Supplies will be replenished nightly by custodial staff, but if you find that the supply has been exhausted, you can order more using the Report-a-Problem app on the classroom computer.
- Flexibility is requested for student absences due to illness/quarantine/isolation, providing opportunities to participate remotely during these times when possible.
- The delivery mode of courses (online, hybrid, in-person) must be in accordance with the information in the registration schedule. Course delivery through alternative methods, such as Zoom, is only permitted in cases of quarantine/isolation/illness of instructor, with chair and dean approval or when informed by the university due to changing public health conditions.
- Faculty office hours should be scheduled in a way that support students in their learning and in a format that is consistent with the course modality and will meet students’ needs. Faculty may offer students the choice of in-person or virtual office hours based on their preference, and may hold office hours in their office, conference rooms or other spaces as needed.
First Day of Class
- A new first class day video to share with students about COVID and the classroom environment is in production and will be available on the Return to Learn website later this week, prior to the start of classes. We are asking every faculty member/TF teaching in-person to show this video on the first day of class.
- Faculty are encouraged to load as many course-related materials as possible into Canvas prior to the start of the semester to ensure student accessibility.
- Any notifications about changes to your course will be communicated via email through your department chair and/or through other university communications.
Continuity of Operations
- UNT strongly encourages all students, staff and faculty to get vaccinated. Free on-campus COVID testing is available through Curative located in the Union and the Student Health and Wellness Center.
- Additionally, UNT has extended its vaccination incentive program through Sept. 10. Participants receive a dining voucher and are eligible for other great prizes.
- All students, staff and faculty are required to have a COVID-19 test at designated intervals throughout the fall semester, with the first testing interval being Aug. 16 through Sept. 10. Additional testing intervals will be determined and announced. Vaccinated individuals can opt out of the mandatory testing requirement by uploading proof of vaccination by Sept. 10. Instructions on how to document test results or opt out with vaccination records are on the Health Alerts website.
- If you have a positive COVID case, questions or need to report exposure, email the COVID team at COVID@unt.edu. The COVID team may contact you to conduct contact tracing, if necessary. Please report any students in your class who state that they have COVID.
- PPE, including specialty face and instrument covers, is available through Risk Management. Contact your college’s PPE liaison for your PPE needs.
- Building ventilation and air flow have been increased in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Faculty alternative work arrangements must be approved through the department chair and dean. Depending on individual circumstances, faculty may request a disability accommodation through Human Resources.
Continuity of Research
- Research activities are fully operational.
- Business travel, including professional development travel, resumed August 1.
- Domestic travel will follow normal UNT processes and must be pre-approved through Concur.
- International travel has additional risk factors and requires pre-approval through Concur as well as registration through Risk Management 4-8 weeks prior to departure to ensure timely approval. Destinations with a Level 3 or 4 Department of State travel risk require review by the International Risk Oversight Committee (IROC) and approval by the provost. Unvaccinated individuals must quarantine for 10 days upon return to the U.S. before coming to campus. Risk levels are constantly monitored, even after approval, to ensure safety. Travel permission may be revoked if public health conditions change.
I appreciate your commitment to UNT and our wonderful students, who benefit the most from your work. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or Brenda.Kihl@unt.edu for additional assistance.