Classroom Management with Social Distancing
1. Syllabus policy
- Try to address potential problems before they occur. Add USF's official statement to your syllabus with the requirements for face coverings. Specify for instance, that face coverings need to cover both nose and mouth, face shields alone are not permitted, and face coverings cannot be removed while indoors.
2. Before the first day of class
- Email your students before class starts and point them to the specific policy.
- Consider offering a syllabus quiz. The syllabus quiz does not have to be complicated; a simple T/F question will do (i.e., face coverings are required to be worn at all times when present in the classroom).
- If you choose to live stream your class sessions, students will have the option to participate in the class online if they feel unsafe being on campus or if they cannot wear a face covering. Recording the class session might also be considered.
3. First week of class
- On the first week of class, repeat this message to make sure students have understood this new policy.
- Complete First Day Attendance online; assign them an activity to complete or a syllabus quiz to fulfill the First Day Attendance.
- Since this is such a trying time to both instructors and students, prioritize relationship building. In the long run, if you have a good rapport with your students, they will be less likely to be uncivil. Do not hesitate to humanize yourself, now more than ever.
- Try to learn student names. This might be more difficult under these circumstances, but try anyway. You might consider assigned seats or name tents.
- You might also ask your students to introduce themselves through a video prior to the start of the class.
5. Refusal to wear face coverings. A comprehensive communications strategy will inform all members of the University community about the required mitigation measures designed to promote health and safety on our campuses. Everyone will be informed about the policy, the reasons for the policy, and the consequences for not adhering to the policy. The communications strategy includes as key elements language prominently displayed on signage throughout the campus, in classrooms and in course syllabi.
If a student arrives at a face-to-face class without a required face mask, the following protocol shall be followed:
1. The instructor should remind the student that, consistent with USF stated requirements and in the interest of everyone’s health, a face covering is required to be worn, and to be worn properly, in order to attend class.
2. The instructor should always have spare disposable face coverings available in order to offer one to the student who does not have one, in the event they simply forgot.
3. If the student refuses to wear a face covering, or refuses to wear it properly, then the student should be reminded that wearing a face covering is a condition of remaining in the classroom and if he or she refuses to do so, they will need to leave the class and proceed to the office designated by the Dean or Regional Chancellor to discuss their concerns with a team, trained in conflict resolution. The instructor should call the office to alert them to the student’s pending arrival.
4. If the student refuses to leave, the instructor should call the office designated by the Dean of the College or Regional Chancellor, who will send a team, trained in conflict resolution, to escort the student out of the classroom and the building. The team will engage in conversation with the student to determine their concerns and attempt to come to a resolution. (Resolution may include, for example, suggesting a different type of face covering, referring for a medical or mental health assessment, or recommending switching course modalities or withdrawing from the course). If a resolution cannot be achieved, the team will report the student to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The team may also recommend to the instructor that the student be dropped from the course for disruptive behavior; a student so dropped will not receive a refund for the cost of the class.
5. If the team does not arrive in a timely fashion (within ten minutes), the instructor should dismiss the class, asking them to leave in an orderly fashion, to not congregate, and to plan to return in 10 minutes. If the instructor wishes to dismiss the class immediately, he or she may do that as well, again, asking the students to leave in an orderly fashion, to not congregate, and to plan to return in 20 minutes.
6. Once the class reconvenes, the instructor should give the students in the class a moment to ask any questions they may have about the situation and then should resume instruction.
7. A student who leaves class but does not seek out the conflict team will be contacted by the team in an attempt to follow-up to see if they can provide any assistance to the student.
8. If a student is dropped from the course and later attempts to re-enter the classroom, they would be considered a trespasser and University Police can be called to remove them from the premises.
6. Student is coughing.
Anyone exhibiting COVID-19-like-symptoms should not attend in-person classes and instead should contact Student Health Services to be assessed. Everyone should wear a face covering in a classroom and sit six feet apart from everyone else. It’s possible the cough is unrelated to COVID-19. If a student coughs, the instructor can ask questions about potential COVID-19-like-symptoms or if the person is feeling well. If the answer is unrelated to COVID-19, such as “no, I just swallowed wrong” or “I have allergies,” the student can stay in the room. If they don’t feel well, they should be sent to Student Health Services.
7. Face coverings accommodation:
- If students have issues that prevent them from wearing face coverings during class time, they need to get a letter from the Office of Student Accessibility Services.
8. Mouth visibility: When mouth/lips are covered, English language learners may struggle (including student-to-student interaction).
- Instead of removing face coverings, you can consider rephrasing, enunciating slower, or speaking louder than usual.
- Write things down on the board more frequently than usual.
- Advise ALL students to speak louder and enunciate more, so you do not call out non-native speakers of English.
9. Refusal to maintain social distance
- Follow protocol similar to refusal to wear face covering (see no. 5).
- Additional options: you may ask students to swap seating locations with other students. Note that instructors cannot rearrange furniture or the seating pattern, as the layout is determined by Facilities for social distancing.
- The instructor has to be the enforcer of this physical distance policy. Students might be uncomfortable with someone’s proximity and not be willing to speak up.
10. Noise issues with interactivity
- If you plan a pair/group activity, remind students to keep their distance, but not speak louder than they have to.
- To avoid noise during an activity, you may want to ask students to use their own devices (for example, use party call with earphones (so low talking) using Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, or Google Voice instead of using personal phone numbers. Or they can also text only via GroupMe, Microsoft Teams chat, or Canvas groups.
- You will need to train students to respond to "return to attention" mode after an activity. For example, you can flicker lights, use Google timer, or "raise your hand if you see me raise my hand," as methods to stop the activity. This is especially important in a large classroom. There's no way to out-shout them.
11. Academic misconduct. Face coverings could provide students with opportunities to cheat, so consider using some of the strategies below:
- If you are testing across days (i.e., half of the class comes on Monday and the other half comes on Wednesday), you can use the same test, but with multiple-choice questions and the answer bank in a different order.
- Test all students online instead, using Proctorio.
- Use open-book testing.
- Replace testing with individual projects.
Other pages for teaching in Fall 2020
- Physical Distancing Interactivity: ideas for keeping interactivity when social distancing requires students to sit 6 feet apart
- Teaching Dual Audiences: suggestions for helping faculty teach online and face-to-face students simultaneously
- Teaching with Masks: strategies and workarounds for how to teach, and how students should interact, when everyone is wearing a mask