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What can instructors do if their students are required to quarantine, isolate, or become ill?

Students who are in quarantine are required to be there because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to avoid contact with others to prevent the possible spread of the virus. Quarantine generally lasts from 10-14 days.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate in their dorms, homes, or other designated facilities, regardless of their vaccination status, symptoms, or level of illness. The time in isolation will depend on how long it takes the student to become symptom free and test negative for COVID-19.

Instructors are expected to work with students who are unable to come to class due to a need to isolate or quarantine, or because they are ill.

Student Health Services does not provide medical excuses and students who are required to quarantine or isolate due to a COVID diagnosis or close contact are NOT required to request accommodation through DRS. Ask students to contact you as soon as possible, if they are required to quarantine, isolate, or if they become ill. In these situations, recognize the need for confidentiality.

The strategies for maintaining engagement and instructional continuity for these students will vary. Depending on how long your students are unable to attend class, there are several options you can provide to support their learning until they are able to return to the classroom. While these strategies are broadly applicable, their specific implementation may vary depending on the type of course you teach – a large enrollment lecture course, a project-based course, a discussion-based seminar, or another type of course. Reach out to the Teaching Center if you have questions about specific application in your course.

If a student becomes ill and is unable to attend or participate in class for an extended period, you may need to consider adjusting assignments, extending deadlines for assignments/exams, or assigning a G (unfinished course work) grade.

Options for teaching students in quarantine or isolation:

  1. Be flexible and adaptive. Across all situations, it’s helpful to remind yourself that the pandemic continues to challenge us with uncertainty, unpredictability, and complications that can be stressful for everyone.  You may need to consider flexibly adapting assignments, activities, due dates, and exams to help your students successfully achieve your desired learning outcomes. Explain clearly your policies about deadline extensions and how students can make up missed assignments or exams.
  2. Post frequent announcements and reminders. At least twice a week, send detailed announcements, about what’s happening in class, homework, assignment updates, upcoming exams, and other important course activities. This not only helps keeps quarantined/isolated students on-track but benefits all students in their efforts to stay caught up with classwork.
  3. Encourage students to ask questions. Remind students who are unable to attend class that they should ask questions via virtual office hours, online Q & A forums, or email.
  4. Record class sessions. Record your class sessions so your students can view them later. If students are unable to attend class, you can record the class sessions and make them available in your Canvas course site. For more details on issues related to recording class session, please visit our FAQ. When providing the students with the opportunity to view recorded class sessions, it will be most effective if you don’t simply ask them to “watch the recorded class.” Rather, be sure to frame their viewing of the recorded class with an advance organizer, key questions, notations of critical content, or other directions to help the student to get the most from watching the recorded class session.

If you have recordings from a prior semester which cover the same content, you may consider posting them to your Canvas course site. Be aware that if any of the students from the previous semesters appear in your recordings, you may need to make some adjustments. Before using previous recordings for your current class, you must edit out prior students or de-identify them by blurring, cropping, or other means.

The following resources have valuable information about how to record and share your class sessions.

Recording a Zoom Session
This short video demonstrates basic steps on how to record your Zoom meetings. In this case, the Teaching Center recommends recording to the cloud rather than your computer.

Best Practices for Recording Class Zoom Sessions in Canvas
This video describes how to set up a Canvas course with Zoom and Panopto and have it available for students to view in Canvas.

Storing and Editing Zoom Recordings
How Zoom recordings are automatically transferred to Panopto for storage, and then deleted out of the Zoom Cloud. You can then edit, use, and share these recordings in several ways, both in and outside of your Canvas courses.

  1. Broadcast class sessions for remote participation. Provide students with the opportunity to participate remotely in class sessions until they can return to class in person. You can allow your students to join class meetings in real-time with Zoom. Be sure to make any materials, slides, class notes, or other resources that are available to your in-class students available to the remote students.

The following resources have valuable information about how to set up and remotely broadcast your class sessions to remote students.

Storing and Editing Zoom Recordings
This Pitt IT page provides a comprehensive overview of the features and functionalities of Zoom.

Using Zoom in Canvas
How to set up synchronous online class meetings with your students directly through Canvas using Zoom web-conferencing.

Broadcasting Zoom in the Physical Classroom
Using your laptop, Zoom, and existing audiovisual equipment in the physical classroom to broadcast a live in-person lecture to remote students.

  1. Use a student facilitator. This option represents an augmented version of the broadcast class sessions option described above. The Teaching Center is piloting a new program where we provide a student worker to attend the in-person class to login to the class’s Zoom session to facilitate the online experience for remote students. The student facilitator can help the remote students to access course slides and content, facilitate interactions with those in the physical classroom, and serve as an intermediary for questions. If you would like more information about this option, please contact the Teaching Center.
  2. Create asynchronous content. While allowing students to participate remotely and recording class sessions are the most straight-forward options for engaging students who are in quarantine or isolation, you may also consider creating additional content to share asynchronously. This might include creating short video lectures, demonstrations, or tutorials. These can be shared on Canvas and can form the foundation of asynchronous modules that might also include problem sets, discussion forums, or other asynchronous activities.

The following resources have valuable information about creating video content and other remote learning materials.

Using Panopto with Canvas
This site provides information on using Panopto to record a lecture, provide a narration for a PowerPoint presentation, or do a simple webcam recording.

Including Videos in Your Canvas Course
Canvas has many ways of integrating video content into your course. This resource will discuss the various ways you can use video content in Canvas, and help you to decide which is right for you.

Resources to support synchronous and asynchronous teaching
A general resource page to support the development of synchronous and asynchronous course content.

Tips & Tricks for Educational Video Creation
An 8-minute asynchronous video that provides tips and tricks for educators wanting to make their own educational video.

General video resources
This is the Teaching Center’s general resource page for creating and using videos.

What can instructors do if they are required to quarantine, isolate, or become ill?

If you are required to quarantine or isolate and are not ill, you can deliver your course remotely from outside the classroom. The Teaching Center’s website provides resources and guidance for instructors who are teaching from outside the classroom.

If you are ill and unable to teach remotely, you should consult with your department chair or dean for policies regarding extended absence.

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