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FAQ

OU Together The University of Oklahoma

FAQs Regarding Instruction

To schedule a vaccine appointment at Goddard Health Center, visit the OU Health Services webpage. For more information about vaccine distribution at OU, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Update pageCOVID-19 vaccines are available to all students, faculty, and staff on all three OU campuses at no cost to the individual.

OU Health Services will have vaccination clinics during move-in and Camp Crimson prior to the start of the semester as well as vaccination clinics during the first week of the semester. Additional information on obtaining vaccinations will be provided on the Health Together app.

OU's current guidelines on masking are available on the OU Masking Protocol page.

There is some room for interpretation when SB 658 and the Governor’s Executive Order are evaluated in isolation from each other. Between SB 658 and the Governor's Executive Order, it is clear that instructors cannot mandate a mask in class. The law is explicit about "students" and the Governor's Executive Order relates to state buildings and state agencies. The legalities of requiring masks for students or staff and faculty have been discussed among higher education institutions in Oklahoma. All legal advisors at the institutions agree that there is not currently the flexibility to require that students wear masks, either by an institution or by instructors.

However, should there be a confirmed COVID-19 positive case in an instructor’s class, the instructor will notify students as soon as possible of the immediate quarantine period. During the two-week quarantine period, masks will be required while the class meets in person and will continue in effect until the quarantine period has been lifted by the instructor.

Yes. PPE that is necessary for safety in laboratory courses and research can be required.

Ask the student who tested positive to complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app.  This will start the notification process for the student and protect the student's health information. The student will be notified through the app of their screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next.

Instructors will be able to implement the mask requirement for quarantine once the student has taken the necessary steps through the Healthy Together app. You should notify your students that the class is entering a quarantine period and that masks are required for the next two weeks until the quarantine period ends.

Instructors have several options for notifying their students.

NOTICE VIA EMAIL/CANVAS: Upon notice of a positive COVID-19 case, the instructor should notify (via email, Canvas, etc.) the class of the positive case (do not report identifiable student information) and the immediate quarantine period in effect. During the quarantine period, students will be required to wear approved masks* during their in-person class. Masks should be worn upon entering the classroom and throughout the duration of the class period. If a student does not have a mask, forgets their mask, or has an exemption from masking, they should notify the instructor as soon as possible.

NOTICE ON DOOR: The instructor may print the first slide of the “Masking Slides-Quarantine (.pptx)” and post it to the classroom door.

NOTICE IN CLASS: The instructor may display the “Masking Slides-Quarantine (.pptx)” and walk the students through the three step process (if applicable).

* Masks must be surgical style. Scarves, gaiters, and bandanas are not acceptable. Masks with vents may not be worn, unless a surgical style mask is worn over the vented mask. Masks must cover the nose and mouth.

Students who test positive should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. Students will receive communication and instructions through the Healthy Together that can be shared with their instructors informing them of the extended absence and request for accommodations if necessary. If additional support or communication is required please contact Student Affairs (studentaffairs@ou.edu).

Instructors should provide modifications to assignment due dates. Instructors may consider alternative assignments if the assignment is time dependent based on participation in-person or with a group or class. Instructors should provide students with an absence of one or two weeks an opportunity to progress in the course and earn credit for the course.

As with every semester, there may be students that must miss large portions of the semester with illness or extenuating circumstances. A letter grade of Incomplete (I) or Administrative Withdrawal (AW) may be the best course of action for the student depending on the time period and percentage of assignments missed. A student can work with their advisor and College to obtain an AW in the course. An AW will not impact the W limit and is a good choice for student will long illness and other extenuating circumstances.

For students who have missed a substantial amount of the class due to illness but completed at least 70% of course material, consideration can be given to assigning an Incomplete.

It is not necessary to record course lectures for students who have extended absences to view. If an instructor is comfortable and willing to do so, then this can be beneficial to the students with extended absences as well as a review for students who attended the original lecture.

Instructional faculty should plan for the fall semester, assuming that some students may not be able to attend in person at some times. Use the resources provided on the on Teach Anywhere Best Practices, Resources for Instructional Continuity, and Office of Digital Learning webpages to ensure assignments and assessments are suitable for both in-person attendees and those who need to attend remotely or asynchronously.

Expectations regarding Zoom etiquette should consider the various circumstances in which students may live or attend class. Best practices are available that may be discussed in class or included in your syllabus. 

If you choose to use video, plan your surroundings: Choose a background that limits distraction and contributes to a safe and respectful environment for all meeting participants. Consider how what is visible to participants might be interpreted, especially without context.

Instructors may use attendance policies that were appropriate prior to Fall 2020 with considerations that students missing for extended time periods may be more common during the upcoming semester. Attendance policies that are flexible for students that have an extended absence are encouraged.  Attendance policies may include grade impacts for students without an accommodation from Student Affairs for an extended absence.

Although standard attendance policies are acceptable, please consider modifications that would provide for flexibility and enable students to not attend class if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, documented or otherwise. A student feeling free to stay home when feeling ill benefits the promotion of community health. Flexible attendance policies ensure that students are not penalized due to absence from class and are not required to provide formal documentation from a health care professional regarding their absence. It requires students to honestly communicate their need to miss class, and for instructors to trust students who indicate they are ill or isolating. This approach ensures that students do not seek medical attention for the sole purpose of obtaining a note, thus exposing themselves and others in the community to any communicable diseases they may possess. In addition, students have varying access to health services, and allowing students to miss class without documentation ensures that all students feel equally comfortable making the decision to protect their classmates regardless of health insurance status or access to health care.

Students and instructors should not view class attendance as discretionary, however. Because participation and engagement in class are central components of learning, students have an obligation to attend class unless they are experiencing extenuating circumstances. In this case, students should communicate with the instructor to make arrangements to complete course activities for the period of absence required and then resume attendance.

Instructors should follow the instructional continuity guidance as they plan their courses, to enable students to participate when ill or isolating. Making such resources available from the beginning of the semester will ease the challenge of balancing student needs throughout the semester. Consideration should be given to policies regarding submission of late work and make-up assessments in the case of illness. Faculty should also comply with any college, department, or unit policies regarding attendance that may reflect accreditation requirements or other considerations.

The Accessibility and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) can provide guidance regarding student accommodations. Procedures for students taking exams in the ADRC have changed may require more flexibility than in the past. In addition, all digital content should be accessible for students with disabilities. Technologies may be of assistance with this goal. For instance, MyMedia provides automatic captioning of videos, which may be beneficial for hearing impaired students, although editing of captions is necessary. The ADRC can assist with ensuring that your course content is accessible.

Instructors who are teaching in an in-person or hybrid format can use their own judgment as to whether to use synchronous online interactions for office hours, advising, and mentoring. Instructors that are teaching online should provide synchronous online office hours, advising and mentorship.

No. An instructor is not required to synchronously provide their course both in-person and remotely.

If an instructor is comfortable and willing to do so, then recording and posting their lectures can be beneficial to the students with extended absences as well as a review for students who attended the original lecture.  This is not required.

Students are encouraged to use the Healthy Together app to assist them in evaluating their exposure and symptoms. The app will provide guidance on the actions to take based on their answer. Students may also contact Goddard Health Services to schedule a COVID-19 test.

Students who test positive should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. Students will receive communication and instructions through the Healthy Together that can be shared with their instructors informing them of the extended absence and request for accommodations if necessary. If additional support or communication is required contact Student Affairs (studentaffairs@ou.edu).

Instructors should provide modifications to assignment due dates. Instructors may consider alternative assignments if the assignment is time dependent based on participation in-person or with a group or class. Instructors should provide students with an absence of one or two weeks an opportunity to progress in the course and earn credit for the course.

As with every semester, there may be students that must miss large portions of the semester with illness or extenuating circumstances. A letter grade of Incomplete (I) or Administrative Withdrawal (AW) may be the best course of action for the student depending on the time period and percentage of assignments missed. A student can work with their advisor and College to obtain an AW in the course. An AW will not impact the W limit and is a good choice for student will long illness and other extenuating circumstances.

For students who have missed a substantial amount of the class due to illness but completed at least 70% of course material, consideration can be given to assigning an Incomplete.

The instructor should contact the chair/director and provide access to the materials needed to maintain the course if possible. Ideally, a trusted individual, such as a course TA, colleague, or department chair, might be given access to materials at the beginning of the semester in case of disruptions. If additional assistance or resources are needed to maintain the course, the Chair/Director, Dean, and Provost’s Office may be consulted.

The instructor should have an instructional continuity plan for all courses and the chair should give consideration to possible temporary instructors ahead of any absences. Alternate plans need to be available to ensure that the course continues despite instructor illness, which may include a temporary alternate instructor or alternate modality, until the instructor can return to normal arrangements.

If an instructor is teaching an online course and becomes ill, but can continue teaching, they should do so. If the course is in-person and the instructor tests positive for COVID-19, then they should move the course to online (VIDC is suitable) during the quarantine period if they are able to teach. Otherwise, an alternate instructor should be appointed. Whether a long-term substitute instructor could receive some compensation is being considered.

At this time, W grades will count towards the limit of 5 for students. For absences longer than two weeks, a grade of Incomplete (I) or Administrative Withdrawal (AW) may be more appropriate than having a student Withdraw (W). Students can work with their advisors and their College to obtain a AW for the courses for extended illness and extenuating circumstances.

It may be necessary to allow W grades without impacting the student limit of 5 depending on the circumstances of the semester.

The HVAC systems have been adjusted to intake more outdoor air at a higher turn-over rate. University Operations has converted HVAC systems with hospital-grade filters (MERV-13).

As the university has since the start of the pandemic, OU is continuing to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control. New guidance from the CDC on June 15, 2021, highlighted that “in most situations, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer.”

The university has resumed pre-pandemic cleaning protocols, taking into consideration applicable government and industry cleaning and safety standards, as well as the understanding that COVID-19 is primarily spread by inhaling respiratory droplets or aerosols.

Last year, the university upgraded many facilities to support the healthiest possible environment, including converting air filters to hospital-grade standards; increasing outside air where possible; installing touchless, motion-sensor fixtures in public restrooms; and adding more hand sanitizer stations across campus.

Students, faculty, and staff should be encouraged to follow CDC guidelines of not touching one’s face and washing hands frequently. Hand sanitizer is available next to all entry/exit doors and elevators.

Students who indicate that they tested positive should be directed to complete the Passport on the Healthy Together App.

Instructors should not inform students in their course that a student in their course has tested positive. Unvaccinated faculty, staff, and students who have been in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 positive individual should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. This will start the notification process for the employee or student and will protect the individual’s health information. The employee or student will be notified through the app of their screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next. 

Requiring unmasked students to sit in the back or edges of a classroom could impede a student’s learning and mastery of the material in the course. Therefore, isolating students who choose not to mask is discouraged.

Because OU is dedicated to providing an inclusive learning environment, policies that promote an inclusive environment are recommended.

Offering extra credit or participations points is a valued method to encourage behaviors that will increase mastery of the material in a course and extend learning related to the course. Grade modifications that are not related to the content and curriculum of the course should be avoided. Providing one set of students a grade advantage in a course for behavior not related to the learning outcomes of the courses is not appropriate and could provide a path to a successful grade appeal in the course. Therefore, providing students who choose to mask a grade advantage is discouraged.

The best strategy is to provide a link to the OU Masking Protocol webpage (ou.edu/together/university-masking-policy). Masking guidelines may change over the semester based on CDC, state and local guidance.

It is acceptable to provide the following information, but it is not recommended that this be included in the syllabus. This information may change over time as situations change. 

The CDC now recommends that all persons, vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear a mask at indoor events when community transmission of COVID-19 is substantial or high. Why??

  • The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is very contagious and passes easily from person to person.
  • Unvaccinated people are at greatest risk of complications of COVID-19 if they get infected.
  • We now know that fully vaccinated people can get infected with the Delta variant, and while they don’t get as sick as unvaccinated individuals, they may be able to spread the disease to others.
  • Masks have clearly been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

OU strongly encourages the entire OU community to get vaccinated.

It is acceptable to add the above statement to the syllabus.

In addition, please feel free to provide information on vaccination incentives provided by Student Affairs and to announce vaccination clinics and locations. These are available on the OU Health Services site.

Isolating students into masking and non-masking groups could potentially impact learning. Instructors may want to consider allowing students to choose their own groups instead of creating a practice that could impact student learning and performance in the course.

Because OU is dedicated to providing an inclusive learning environment, policies that promote an inclusive environment are recommended.

It is not acceptable for an instructor to change the mode of deliver of their course. Courses must be taught in the mode of delivery that they were scheduled.

If a short-term transition to online is required, then this decision will be made by the Provost and President with guidance from OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler and other health professionals. Any campus-wide modification of mode of delivery will be clearly communicated to faculty and students.

If an instructor has a health concern arise during the semester that would qualify for an ADA accommodation, the instructor should start the ADA accommodation process and contact the Provost's Office for modification of their course mode of delivery.

If an instructor is teaching an online course and becomes ill, but can continue teaching, they should do so. If the course is in-person and the instructor tests positive for COVID-19, then they should move the course to online (SYNC is suitable) during the isolation period if they are able to teach. Otherwise, an alternate instructor should be appointed.

Whether a long-term substitute instructor could receive some compensation is being considered in consultation with the colleges and will depend on the specific circumstances of the substitution, such as when in the semester the substitution began, the length of the substitution, and the effort needed to complete the course based on the previous instructor’s adherence to the Instructional Continuity Guidelines.

Because OU is an inclusive learning environment, it is best to employ policies that promote attendance of all students to office hours. One option is to offer online office hours to all students and allow in-person meetings on request.

Instructors should encourage their students to use the Healthy Together app and follow the instructions within the app. Denying a student access to a classroom based on the Healthy Together app daily passport is not appropriate.

Sharing COVID data is acceptable if it is directly related to the content and learning objectives of the course. Sharing COVID data that is not related to the courses is not recommended. Instructors can encourage but should not pressure students to get vaccinated or wear a mask. The data on case counts is likely less accurate than the data available last Fall when there was wide availability of free testing through clinical providers. Additionally, with the availability of over-the-counter quick COVID tests, some cases may not be reported.

While we hope that university students have a higher vaccination rate than the general public, we know the following:

  • In Oklahoma, only 26% of people ages 18-24 are fully vaccinated.
  • Only 28% of people ages 25-34 are fully vaccinated.

[Data from July 30, 2021]

As part of the housing move-in process, staff asked incoming first-year residential students (n=3807) about their vaccine status or their intentions to get vaccinated. With an incoming class of 4,600, this represents an 83% sample size. Key findings included:

  • 66.46% of incoming freshmen reported they were vaccinated
  • Of those that were not vaccinated, 22.33% expressed interest in getting vaccinated

Continue to encourage vaccinations. Vaccinations provide protection against serious illness.

OU IT Learning Spaces has not received complaints on issues with microphones in the classrooms during the pandemic with students using masks. OU IT does not anticipate any issues with using a microphone while wearing a mask. If an instructor has a concern with a microphone while using a mask, please contact OU IT at (405) 325-HELP or through submitting an online ticket.

OU IT Learning Spaces is procuring a supply of microphone covers that can be provided to faculty for personal use on the microphones in the classrooms. OU IT will provide information on the process on obtaining a microphone cover soon and the procedure will be added to this FAQs.