Instructors

This page provides instructors with information regarding classroom management.

Procedures for instructors

This section describes University policies and procedures that affect classroom operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who test positive for COVID-19

If a student discloses to you that they have tested positive for COVID-19, you should not share or distribute this information as this is the student’s private health information. An individual identified as having had significant contact with a COVID-19-positive individual will be referred for testing and potential quarantine via contact tracing. 

If a student in a class tests positive for COVID-19, the instructor will not be notified of the student’s test result. The instructor will have access to verified absence information, including COVID-19-related issues (positive COVID-19 test, or an exposure that requires quarantine or further testing) but will not be provided with a specific reason. Since the instructor will be notified about all students that will be absent for any COVID-19-related issue (e.g., quarantine, mandatory testing) we are not explicitly or implicitly sharing COVID-19 test results or COVID-19-positive status. This list therefore does not violate medical privacy rights of any student.

We strongly recommend that verified student absences, including those related to COVID-19, be excused in order to discourage class attendance by those who are ill or might carry the virus. This process will be in effect for all courses, including online. For all other absences, standard University procedures for absences as described in the Student Code remain in effect.

Even if some students are absent from class due to COVID-19 reasons, it does not mean the instructor needs to cancel class. Further, some students may miss class for other reasons that arise in a typical academic year.

Absences

The Student Code continues to be the guiding document with respect to excused absences. Determination of excused absences are made by the instructor. We strongly recommend that faculty count verified absences as “excused” to reduce the incentives for students who may be ill to attend class. As stated above, instructors will have access to information about students that miss class due to COVID-19-related issues. A student who is absent for an extended period is encouraged to contact the instructor and obtain a letter from the Student Assistance Center in the Office of the Dean of Students.

In addition to students who are ill, you might have students who have been asked to quarantine or isolate. Because instructors will not know the reason for an absence, we strongly recommend that all verified absences be excused.

Failure to participate in class, submit an assignment, or take an exam as a result of the university restricting the undergraduate student’s access to technology for testing noncompliance is not considered an excused or verified absence. As a reminder, you can see if a student has a verified absence by accessing the Verified Absences column in your Class Roster Data in Banner Self-Service or by the student’s submission of an absence letter. Additional information on the university’s policy on class attendance can be found in the Student Code

Building access compliance

Spot checks for building access status will be conducted by Wellness Support Associates at buildings across campus each day. Read more about the Wellness Support Associates program here. In addition to these spot checks, Student Affairs will be systematically monitoring daily testing logs for noncompliance. Noncompliant students will face student discipline. 

As an instructor you are allowed, but not required, to check students’ building access status screens before or during in-person classes as an additional compliance check.

  • Instructional faculty members may ask students in the classroom to show their Building Access Status in the Illinois app or the Boarding Pass.
  • If the status is “Granted” that means the student is compliant with the university’s COVID-19 policies—that is, the student either has had a university-approved COVID-19 vaccine or is in compliance with the on-campus COVID-19 testing program for unvaccinated students.

If a student’s status says “Denied,” you may ask them to leave a classroom or office. Please follow this procedure:

  • Ask the student to leave.
  • If the student refuses to leave, dismiss the class.
  • After the class, report the student to the Office for Student Conflict Resolution for further discipline by filling out this form: https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/7625734.
  • Call UIPD, 217-333-1216, only if an individual becomes belligerent, disruptive and threatening. 
  • The Student Code does not support the use of grading penalties for lack of compliance. Instructors should follow the process outlined above and report non-compliant students to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.
Asking about vaccination status

You should not ask someone if they are vaccinated. You are also not allowed to require students to disclose or prove their vaccination status, in accordance with laws protecting private health information.

Additional instructor information & resources

Classroom modalities

We understand that some instructors cannot teach in person for health reasons. If you have a medical reason for teaching remotely, please seek a medical accommodation through the Office for Access and Equity.  

For those of you teaching in-person, we recognize the need for short-term flexibility around unexpected personal circumstances associated with COVID—for instance, if you or a family member becomes ill, if local P-12 schools shift to a remote format, if daycare facilities close and so on. If an instructor is unable to teach a class session or two in person for a personal COVID-related reason, the instructor may make alternative arrangements for the class, which could include going remote or providing alternative assignments, etc. The instructor should notify the unit of these short-term changes, so that the unit can respond to questions from affected students. 

In case such alternative arrangements need to be extended beyond one week in duration, the instructor must notify their department executive officer, and work with the unit on alternative plans, if necessary, for continuation of instruction. 

A shift in the modality of the course for the remainder of the semester requires the approval of the unit executive officer and the dean. Such shifts will be approved only in exceptional circumstances.  

Seating and capacity

There will not be additional capacity limits for classrooms due to COVID-19. But there are still standard room capacity limits due to fire code, etc.

If you have space in your existing classroom to accommodate more students, please work with your unit to determine if your class size should be expanded. 

Guest speakers in class

Guest speakers from within the campus community should be treated like any other instructor. Guest speakers from outside the campus community should be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if they are able to do so. If guest speakers are unvaccinated, the expectation is that they have received a recent negative COVID-19 test. They are welcome to utilize the SHIELD CU testing program.

Instructors who invite guest speakers are responsible for communicating these expectations to them. However, instructors should not be collecting any vaccination information or documentation.

As in any semester, please outline all class policies in the course syllabus, including any COVID-19 expectations about safety behavior. Recommended syllabus language is included below:

Recommended general syllabus language

Following University policy, all students are required to engage in appropriate behavior to protect the health and safety of the community. Students are also required to follow the campus COVID-19 protocols. 

Students who feel ill must not come to class. In addition, students who test positive for COVID-19 or have had an exposure that requires testing and/or quarantine must not attend class. The University will provide information to the instructor, in a manner that complies with privacy laws, about students in these latter categories. These students are judged to have excused absences for the class period and should contact the instructor via email about making up the work.     

Students who fail to abide by these rules will first be asked to comply; if they refuse, they will be required to leave the classroom immediately. If a student is asked to leave the classroom, the non-compliant student will be judged to have an unexcused absence and reported to the Office for Student Conflict Resolution for disciplinary action. Accumulation of non-compliance complaints against a student may result in dismissal from the University.

Frequently Asked Questions

A student in my class told me they tested positive for COVID-19. What do I do?

If a student discloses to you that they have tested positive for COVID-19, you should not share or distribute this information as this is the student’s private health information. An individual identified as having had significant contact with a COVID-19-positive individual will be referred for testing and potential quarantine via contact tracing. 

How will I know which of my students is vaccinated?

To protect their private health information, you will not know which students are vaccinated. However, to implement COVID-19-related guidelines and policies affecting university operations, instructional faculty members may ask students in the classroom to show their Building Access Status in the Illinois app or the Boarding Pass. If the status is “Granted” that means the student is compliant with the university’s COVID-19 policies—that is, the student either has had a university-approved COVID-19 vaccine or is in compliance with the on-campus COVID-19 testing program for unvaccinated students.

If a student’s status says “Denied,” you may ask them to leave a classroom or office. Please follow this procedure:

  • Ask the student to leave.
  • If the student refuses to leave, dismiss the class.
  • After the class, report the student to the Office for Student Conflict Resolution for further discipline by filling out this form: https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/7625734
  • Call UIPD, 217-333-1216, only if an individual becomes belligerent, disruptive and threatening. 
Can I ask to see a student’s vaccination status?

No. Faculty and staff members should not ask to see a student’s vaccination status.

I am worried about how to give quizzes to students in the face-to-face and online formats. How can I make sure that exams and quizzes are equitable?

Information and advice on assessments can be found here.

Can I change the modality of my course?

We understand that some instructors cannot teach in person for health reasons. If you have a medical reason for teaching remotely, please seek a medical accommodation through the Office for Access and Equity.  

For those of you teaching in-person, we recognize the need for short-term flexibility around unexpected personal circumstances associated with COVID—for instance, if you or a family member becomes ill, if local P-12 schools shift to a remote format, if daycare facilities close and so on. If an instructor is unable to teach a class session or two in person for a personal COVID-related reason, the instructor may make alternative arrangements for the class, which could include going remote or providing alternative assignments, etc. The instructor should notify the unit of these short-term changes, so that the unit can respond to questions from affected students. 

In case such alternative arrangements need to be extended beyond one week in duration, the instructor must notify their department executive officer, and work with the unit on alternative plans, if necessary, for continuation of instruction. 

A shift in the modality of the course for the remainder of the semester requires the approval of the unit executive officer and the dean. Such shifts will be approved only in exceptional circumstances.  

Will there continue to be COVID-19 capacity limits in classrooms?

No, there will not be additional capacity limits for classrooms due to COVID-19. But there are still standard room capacity limits due to fire code, etc.

Can I add more students to my in-person class?

If you have space in your existing classroom to accommodate more students, please work with your unit to determine if your class size should be expanded. 

What happens if I get sick—who takes over my class? What can I do to prepare for that kind of emergency?

As in any semester when an instructor is unable to perform duties for a time, the unit, in consultation with the instructor, will be responsible for determining how to handle the situation.

Am I liable if a student gets infected with COVID-19 while in my class?

No, the instructor is not liable if a student becomes ill.