FAQs: Faculty and Staff
The Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning has a robust set of resources for supporting faculty and student success in the fall.
Here is some suggested language for syllabi, tailored for those teaching in-person or hybrid courses.
All students taking courses in person must take Safe Return to Campus Training before coming to campus. Training is available in Blackboard.
Students must follow the university’s public health and safety precautions and procedures outlined on the university Safe Return to Campus webpage.
All students taking in-person and hybrid courses must also complete the Mason COVID Health Check daily, seven days a week.
The COVID Health Check system uses a color code system, and students will receive either a Green, Yellow, or Red email response. Only students who receive a “Green” response are permitted to attend courses with a face-to-face component. If you suspect that you are sick or have been directed to self-isolate, please quarantine or get testing. Faculty are allowed to ask you to show them that you have received a Green email and are thereby permitted to be in class.
Yes, all faculty, staff, and students must complete the university’s online Safe Return to Campus Training prior to returning to campus.
Fall schedules can be viewed in PatriotWeb, including changes that may have been required because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students holding these positions should be attentive to their employment responsibilities while protecting their health and that of others.
Graduate students who hold teaching or research appointments should discuss remote options with their supervisors, in consultation with their graduate program director.
Supervisors are asked to be as accommodating as possible.
Questions about assistantship contracts and work expectations for the 2020-21 academic year also should be directed to your supervisor or hiring unit.
Human Resources can offer more details.
Include all textbooks and course materials on your syllabi and include a note stating that the Mason Bookstore urges students to purchase their books and course materials online prior to the start of the fall semester. Entry to the bookstore will be limited to comply with physical distancing guidelines.
Faculty should submit their orders to the bookstore immediately.
As some publishers are already experiencing shipping delays, this could affect students’ ability to be prepared for the semester. Faculty should place book orders for all their courses through their department. Individuals responsible for submitting department orders can do so through Faculty Enlight or by emailing the bookstore.
Once faculty receive class rosters, they can reach out to students with details specific to their classes.
Students are also receiving information from the President and Provost as well as their deans and college representatives.
In addition, students are receiving emails from University Life, Safety, Emergency, & Enterprise Risk Management, any clubs they belong to and a variety of other units.
Visit our Mason faculty resource page for information about working here, professional development opportunities, research and teaching support, and links to other critical information.
Teaching In Person
Face shields do not provide the same level of protection; however, if you have respiratory impairment or other health issues that may prohibit the use of a face covering, you can request a face shield instead. Check with Human Resources.
Check to see if the student has received an accommodation from Disability Services (ODS) from the requirement to wear a face covering. If they have received an accommodation, they will have a faculty contact sheet from ODS (or ODS will have sent it to the faculty member in advance) that states they have received an accommodation and what it entails (e.g., wearing a face shield). If the student has an accommodation they must comply with the requirements of the accommodation (e.g., if the accommodation is that they can wear a face shield instead of a face covering, they must be wearing the face shield).
If the student does not have an approved accommodation from ODS (as demonstrated by a faculty contact sheet) and asserts that they need an accommodation, the faculty member should refer the student to ODS for assistance and should ask the student to either put on a face covering or leave the class until they have received an accommodation from ODS.
If the student does not have an accommodation and does not assert that they need an accommodation, the student must comply with policy and wear a face covering in class.
If the student refuses to comply, you may tell them they must leave the class.
If the student refuses to comply, you may report them to the Office of Student Conduct as you would any other student who is failing to comply with university policy or is being disruptive in a classroom.
The university does not expect a significant number of students to be exempt from wearing masks.
If a student has received an approved accommodation from the Office of Disability Serbices, the accommodation must be honored. We cannot discriminate against a student who has received an accommodation.
It is highly unlikely that a student will be given an accommodation from the face covering requirement such that they are in class without any COVID-19 precautions. Most students with accommodations will be required to use some other precaution such as a face shield or other barrier.
The instructor should be informed in advance of the class, through a faculty contact sheet, that a student in their class has an accommodation from the face covering requirement.
If the instructor has any questions or concerns, they should contact ODS to discuss the accommodation.
If a classmate is uncomfortable being in a class with a student who has received an accommodation from the face covering requirement, that student has the option of dropping the class.
Students should fill classrooms beginning with the seat farthest from the door, sitting in available seats until the last student occupies the seat closest to the door.
When exiting the class, the process should be reversed, with the student nearest the door leaving the room first and everyone else filing out in order, while maintaining at least 6 feet of separation until the student farthest from the door exits.
In fixed-seat classrooms, follow the same procedure but do not use seats that are marked with signage or barriers saying DO NOT SIT HERE. Seats in fixed-seat classrooms are taken out of service to promote physical distancing.
Prior to and during entry to classrooms, students should continue to practice physical distancing by standing at least 6 feet apart.
Yes, but it is not required.
Yes, weather permitting, students can meet outside, but no chairs may be moved out of a classroom. Physical distancing rules must be followed, and face coverings are still required.
Yes. Students must complete the Field Trip Form in Appendix C of the Experiential Learning Agreement (PDF). Mason’s face covering policy applies during field trips or other off-campus site visits.
Mason welcomes visitors to our campuses provided they are not experiencing a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been exposed to a COVID-19 positive case in the past 14 days.
Guest speakers should only be invited where classroom space allows.
Arrange a session through your department.
No. Classrooms are on a strict schedule for the fall that also includes cleaning time.
Space capacity has been carefully assessed for each classroom. Do not add additional students beyond space capacity, even if they want to sit on the floor.
Students are preparing for the course modality for which they registered. If personal circumstances demand a modality shift, contact your unit/department for options.
Where classroom space allows, he or she can make the decision to attend, depending on their health and comfort level.
COVID Exposure in the Classroom
As with any semester in which a student is sick for an extended period, this semester carries the same responsibility.
- Accept assignments virtually when possible.
- Urge the student to reach out to discuss a plan to make up work.
- Pre-plan for this potential occurrence.
- Advise a student to take an incomplete if they have passing grades, but can't come back.
- Advise the student to withdraw if they can't manage the material and assignments.
If students must quarantine more than once, they might be advised to retake the class in another semester. Encourage them to talk to their academic advisors.
Your unit/department might also have guidance on how best to deliver content and evaluation of learning. You can also check the academic calendar for add/drop deadlines.
The local health department will conduct contact tracing to determine if students in the class are considered close contacts. Generally speaking, one case (student or faculty) will not result in quarantine for the entire class.
If a faculty member is sick (self-isolation), in quarantine, or awaiting testing or testing results, they will not conduct classes in person.
Each academic unit/department has a plan to address faculty members who can't continue the course. Another faculty member may be able to step in and continue teaching.
In an emergency situation, call the emergency number listed in the classroom (or 911) with the phone in the room or a personal cell phone.
Otherwise, contact facilities work control at 703-993-2525 or classroom support at 703-993-3456.
Classrooms and instructional spaces have been modified to allow 6 feet of distance between students; faculty have been allocated more space, up to 100 square feet. The university is providing public health supplies to research spaces, customer service locations, classrooms and office suites to promote adherence to public health and safety precautions.
No. To maintain physical distancing requirements at all times, faculty should not rearrange any furniture in classrooms.
Details about the technology available in your classroom, as well as instructional guides, can be found at the Stearns Center Classroom Guide.
The available technology in classrooms can vary. For details on what is available, check the Stearns Center Classroom Guide.
When weather and outside temperatures permit, classrooms with operable windows may be opened to allow fresh air to circulate. You must close the windows before you leave the room.
Classroom doors should be closed when classes are in session or when vacant but should be left open during class changeover to minimize contact with door handles.
If the course is not identified as a hybrid course, you do not have to accommodate online students in your in-person class.
Recordings are only necessary if you have defined your course as a hybrid and you have no other plans for how to provide students with your materials.
We understand that not every course is appropriate for recording, so this is not required.
What is expected, however, is that you have a way of providing class content for students who may suddenly be unable to attend your class.
Best practice suggests that instructors carefully consider how to provide content to all students taking the class, regardless of modality.
Supervisors identify roles that require the presence of a staff member.
Employees best suited to meet those responsibilities will return to campus.
We realize some employees will have children at home because schools and day care centers are closed.
Supervisors are encouraged to be as flexible as possible, and we encourage supervisors and employees to discuss how best to coordinate the employee’s need for flexibility and the unit’s business needs.
Employee Relations can provide information, answer questions, and be a resource.
University housekeeping services will clean common areas and open spaces. Suites and offices will be cleaned with disinfectant every evening.
During the day, faculty and staff are responsible for periodic cleaning of office spaces as necessary.
Each suite will be provided with cleaning supplies that includes disinfectant spray and towels. Soap and water can also be used to clean work areas.
Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Field work that requires domestic travel outside Virginia also falls under review of UTAC.
If it's considered research activity, it must be reviewed and approved by the Research Review Committee.
Call Mason Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 703-993-2380 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After normal business hours and on weekends, you will be directed to “press 1” to connect Protocall with the student in need.
If the student is experiencing a medical emergency or is in a life-threatening situation, contact 911 directly, and clearly state the student’s location (on campus or off campus) for an immediate response.
Mason Police can also be called for assistance at 703-993-2810.
Faculty and staff who have benefits with the university to use the resources available to them through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Human Resources and Payroll created a resource list for those who do not have Mason benefits.
PHEL can be used to:
- Attend to medical needs if you or a family member is being tested or treated for COVID-19.
- If your job is not conducive to telework or other alternatives are not possible.
- If you have chronic health conditions or are age 65 or older and there are no flexible work options available to maintain social distancing.
- To look for alternative child care arrangements due to day care/school closures as a result of COVID-19.
PHEL cannot be used to care for your own child.
For details, review the PHEL Guide.
For details on all COVID-19 leave types, view the COVID-19 Leave Guidance Chart.
Under the CARES Act, 403(b) plan participants can take in-service distributions with no 10 percent early distribution penalty or 20 percent withholding for coronavirus-related distributions.
Contact the retirement plan vendor to confirm eligibility, request a coronavirus-related loan and address additional questions about the CARES Act distribution and loan circumstances or processes.
If your account is with Fidelity, log into NetBenefits or call 1-800-343-0860.
If your account is with TIAA, log into TIAA or call 1-800-842-2252.
Yes, on August 3. The CDC will meet class size, physical distancing, health screening, and cleaning and disinfection requirements outlined in the guidance on the Virginia Department of Social Services' Child Care Virginia site.
The Center will opening with a maximum of 66 students, down from the previous total of 104.