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Teaching, Learning and Discovery

Among the first steps of the Return to Learn initiative was the distribution of four classroom instructional goals from Provost Alan Utter’s Continuity of Teaching, Learning, and Discovery task force, and the recommendations of faculty and instructors related to classroom procedures.

Submitted Recommendations

The four recommendations were previously released by the Chancellor’s Office, and are listed below:

Recommendation #1: Preparing for Flexible Mode of Delivery

While it is our plan to conduct on-campus, face-to-face classes during the Fall 2020 semester, faculty who are scheduled to teach face-to-face courses should prepare for the possibility that their course(s) may need to be delivered in a hybrid, web-assisted format to accommodate physical distancing requirements. This recommendation is based on all current guidance from government agencies (CDC & ADH) as well as best practices recommended by the American College Health Association (ACHA). Regardless of the ratio of face-to-face to online instruction, an appropriate mix of both in-class instruction and online instruction may be needed to achieve the physical distance requirements of students and faculty based on today’s guidelines. To allow the proper amount of time for hybrid material development, we recommend faculty begin work immediately. During the COVID-19 era, the hybrid, web-assisted format is defined as a combination of face-to-face and online instruction (synchronous or asynchronous). Additionally, during the face-to-face instruction time, faculty must adhere to the physical distancing occupancy of the assigned room. The physical distance occupancy (PDO) for each instructional space will be made available to the dean, department chair, and individual faculty to determine PDO compliance.

Recommendation #2: Special Needs for Laboratories, Hands-on Activities and/or Clinical Experiences

Faculty who are scheduled to teach face-to-face courses in the Fall 2020 semester that include laboratories, hands-on activities, and/or clinical experiences should prepare to deliver these courses while adhering to the physical distance occupancy of the assigned room. Faculty and students will be asked to participate in necessary procedures to limit the spread of coronavirus, including usage of face coverings and wipe down of surfaces and equipment after usage. If possible, the faculty can also decide to deliver these courses in a hybrid, web-assisted format.

Recommendation #3: Plan for Second Wave/Peak of COVID-19

A vital secondary function of the first recommendation is to assist faculty members’ preparation to deliver their face-to-face courses in a remote (100% online) format at any time throughout the Fall 2020 semester in the case of an increase in localized infections and/or students who are considered at high-risk. This also prepares courses if instructors are unable to attend classes for a period of time due to exposure or infection.

Recommendation #4: Thanksgiving Option

The Fall 2020 semester will begin as scheduled on August 25, with face-to-face courses planned for the entirety of the semester. However, we are recommending a contingency plan that if there is a significant upturn in coronavirus infection during the late fall, that students may not return to face-to-face instruction after Thanksgiving. If this were to become necessary, the remaining lectures, study day, and final examinations will be delivered online. By making this recommendation now, faculty can plan their semester in case this scenario is enacted. As the decision regarding the Thanksgiving option would not be made until absolutely necessary, faculty should use the upcoming summer weeks to prepare for this potential need. Faculty will have the option to allow certain classes (i.e. laboratories, hands-on activities and/or clinical experiences) to continue after Thanksgiving or to advance them so that they are done before Thanksgiving.

Faculty Recommended Protective Measures in the Classroom

Faculty and students must wear appropriate face coverings (e.g., mask or face shield) when entering and exiting academic buildings. This includes the library, museum, and other venues where academic classes are taught. Faculty and students must practice social distancing AND wear appropriate face coverings when transitioning between classes and when entering and exiting classrooms.

During class, students must wear appropriate face coverings for the duration of a class period. Physical contact in the classroom should be discouraged or prohibited without consent from the EOC. If an assignment requires students to be in physical contact (touching each other), then a plan should be submitted regarding how the students will be protected in this instance. Students and faculty members are asked to properly sanitize all surfaces used, upon entering the classroom.

Instructors may request students to leave the classroom if the student fails to comply with wearing some form of appropriate face covering. Instructors are NOT required to wear masks during their lecture, but must wear a face shield or practice physical distancing. The university shall provide face shields for instructors and the necessary items for sanitizing classroom spaces.

Faculty must wear face coverings when attending meetings or other events where physical distancing rules cannot be followed. This also includes office hours or other instructional meetings outside of the traditional classroom.

Students who experience COVID-19 symptoms or a fever exceeding 100.4 degrees should avoid returning to the classroom and seek medical advice from the student health center.

Student Support and Accommodation

Students who prefer online classes due to COVID concerns: Advisors will assist students in enrolling in online course offerings wherever possible. In these cases, faculty are not required but may elect to offer a remote learning option.

Students who need accommodation due to high-risk heath concerns: Access and Accommodation Services (A&AS) will inform faculty via email following their customary practice for any student in need of classroom accommodations. A&AS will work with the student and the faculty member to explore possible accommodations, which may include rescheduling certain class activities, such as labs, for that student, extra social distancing in classrooms, extra PPE, or providing remote learning options. The use of AOS companion courses may be an option in some cases.

Students who have symptoms of/test positive for/or are exposed to COVID and can continue their studies remotely while in quarantine: 

  • Student should submit the campus self-reporting form at: www.AState.edu/COVIDSelfReport
  • Faculty will be alerted via email to students’ absenteeism and their approved date of return.
    • A daily report will be sent to Jill Simons in Academic Affairs listing students that are in isolation or quarantine and the date that the student ends quarantine or isolation.
    • If a faculty member has concerns about a student that they have not received official notice of quarantine or isolation from AAR, the faculty member will contact Dr. Simons who will reach out to Sara Walker for verification.
  • Faculty will work with students on a case-by-case basis to develop the best remote learning arrangement.  In most cases, faculty should already have alternative plans in place for a quick pivot to online learning or a hybrid model in place. 
  • Students will also receive an email providing tips for working remotely during quarantine.
  • NOTE: The Contact Tracing Team will vet all student situations and will inform faculty or students if they are at risk for exposure.  Faculty should not  notify students when alerted about a possible positive case in their class.

Students who become sick due to COVID: At times, students will become too sick to work remotely or otherwise. Faculty will work with students following their usual process for missed courses. Due to the unique circumstances presented by COVID-19, faculty will be expected to allow flexibility, where possible, in these situations. However, in some cases, students may need to withdraw from the course or a grade of “I” may be issued. NOTE: Learning Support Services may be an option for students in need of a learning coach.

COVID-19 University Syllabus Statement - Fall 2020

Arkansas State University has made every effort to provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for our return to in-person instruction during the Fall 2020 semester. The University is following the most up-to-date guidelines set forth by the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the continuing threat from the COVID-19 pandemic, we acknowledge there is potential for the interruption of in-person instruction during the course of this semester. While it is the goal of the institution to offer traditionally face-to-face classes, the social distancing measures arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused many of the classes to be offered in a hybrid format this semester (i.e. a combination of face-to-face and remote modes of delivery). This means nearly every course offered will have a component where internet access is essential to course success. Students are strongly encouraged to secure WiFi access they can use for the semester either on or off campus. The purpose for this strategy is to protect our students, faculty, and staff while adhering to physical distancing recommendations from public health officials while accomplishing the course learning objectives.

If the university transitions to all-online instruction, campus housing will remain available for students who do not have a safe place to move or who do not have access to the internet elsewhere. Students who leave campus will need to ensure that they have reliable access to the internet to continue their course work. Web cameras may also be required by instructors to facilitate remote instruction (please see technology recommendations section below). University officials will provide students with as much advanced notice and information as possible if the transition to all-online instruction becomes necessary.

Please remember, all official notifications are made through your official A-State email account, the university website, and Blackboard Learn. You are responsible for checking your university email to ensure you receive the latest updates regarding this course.

COVID-19 University Technology Recommendations for Students

Technology (hardware and software) and internet access will be key to course success in Fall 2020. Please check the following list to be certain you have the technology needed to be successful in your courses.

  1. Internet Access—You should make arrangements to have access to the Internet, preferably high-speed Internet, for the duration of this course. A wired, high-speed, Internet connections (ethernet cable), is highly recommended especially when taking a test.
  1. Computer Operating Systems
    • For PCs: Windows 8+
    • For MACs: OS 10.13+
    • For Cellular Phones: iOS or Android
  1. iOS Devices, any of these options should work; however, completing most course assignments will need a computer:
    • iPhone 6s or later, iPad Air 2 or later 
  1. Android Devices, any of these options should work; however, completing most course assignments will need a computer:
    • Samsung Galaxy (S9+, Note 9+), Google Pixel (3A+), OnePlus (7T+)
  1. Software—You will be the most successful in this course if you have access to a computer with the following software installed:
    • Microsoft Office –Excel, Power Point and Word. A-State has secured for you access to the latest MS Office software for both Mac and PC users. For more information, please visit the software download page where you will find other tools needed to be successful in this course.
    • Students are welcome to use Mac Applications such as Keynote, Numbers, and Pages, but please plan to convert these documents to the Microsoft file types prior to assignment submission. This course technology requirement also applies to Google Slides, Sheets, and Docs.
    • Browsers, Plug-ins, Players and Viewers—to take full advantage of all the features in this course, be sure you have the right technology at your fingertips. This includes:
    • Blackboard-supported browser - Firefox 60+, Chrome 74+, and Safari 12+ (Internet Explorer is no longer supported) are compatible with the current version of Blackboard.
    • Acrobat Reader
    • It is recommend running the Blackboard Browser Check to verify installed plug-ins on your computer

 Additional Computer Hardware:  web camera, microphone, and speakers (can be internal hardware already available on your computer)

Organizing principles for creating research and creative activities

Specific to research work conducted at Arkansas State during the current coronavirus pandemic

  • Follow all CDC guidelines on coronavirus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
  • All campus procedures apply to research including daily self-wellness check.
  • Additional information for all students and employees can be found on A-State’s Novel Coronavirus webpage. https://www.astate.edu/safety/novel-coronavirus/
  • All current safety protocols not related to COVID-19 remain in effect.
  • Researchers should be aware of any restrictions required by funding and regulatory agencies (e.g. NSF, NIH, USDA, USFWS, etc.).
  • All research that does not involve groups of two or more individuals and research that can be accomplished using virtual platforms should proceed without restrictions.
  • In public areas, all touch areas within research areas should be disinfected prior to research occurring and after the research has concluded.
  • If work is strenuous, a face shield may be used as face coverings may impede breathing during higher levels of physical activity.
  • College deans should consider establishing a mechanism that allows researchers to reserving shared space, if such procedures are not already in place.


  • Hand washing should occur prior to research sessions and regularly throughout the session as appropriate, and avoid touching your face.
  • Commonly touched objects and surfaces should be disinfected regularly.
  • Research and related activities of groups up to 10 that can maintain at least six feet distance (physical distance) between individuals and are conducted in a space that is at least 100 square feet per person are permitted but it is advised to avoid such gathers for more than two hours. Group research that does not meet these conditions must be approved by college dean.
  • Masks are always encouraged when working in groups and are required in most circumstance when social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • All research activities that involve two or more researchers should involve pre-planning aimed to minimize contact between researchers.
  • All research involving human subjects should consider scheduling periodic gaps between participants to allow for disinfection and turnover of air.

While in the field or traveling:

  • The critical issue is maintaining physical distance and to wear a face covering indoors. Wearing a face covering or face shield is especially important whenever six foot spacing is not possible.
  • During high temperatures, a face shield may be used in place of face coverings as they may cause issues maintaining body temperature. Hydration in these circumstances and breaks may need to be more frequent.
  • Travel in vehicles should be limited to one person per vehicle. One passenger is allowed, but both must wear face coverings
  • If you are using a vehicle that will be used by other researchers, high touch areas of the vehicle (this includes but is not limited to the steering wheel, door, dashboard area, and center console) should be disinfected before and after the use of any research vehicles.
  • Plan ahead so that you have disinfectant and hand sanitizers with you at all times
  • Keep track of who you interact with at all times when conducting research off campus
  • There are no travel restrictions specific to research, thus current university travel policies apply. Current travel policies can be found at https://www.astate.edu/safety/novel-coronavirus/

Plan version issued: June 25, 2020: this page revised on August 11, 2020