FSCares Re-opening Plan

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Academics: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning

Context for Academic Guidelines

Since the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the United States, we have learned a great deal about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Promising vaccines have been developed and are now reaching some of our highest risk populations, and treatment protocols have been refined and improved. While these advances have strengthened our response to the pandemic, the transmission and risks of COVID-19 remain high. It continues to be transmitted easily and rapidly through personal contact; its morbidity and mortality rates are staggering; and despite the promise that comes from the development of vaccines, native immunity to the virus is out of reach for the remainder of this academic year. As such, the guidelines for teaching and learning established for the fall 2020 semester will remain in place for the spring 2021 semester.

The guidelines for teaching and learning, both individually and collectively, are grounded in what we have learned since the start of the pandemic. They have been developed by the Deans Council in consultation with a wide variety of internal and external experts and stakeholders. The overall aim of these guidelines is to create an environment that mitigates virus transmission, while maintaining the high-quality learning experiences that make Florida Southern a special place to live and learn.

In the context of this overall purpose, the guidelines for teaching and learning seek to achieve three major goals:

  1. To ensure that students make appropriate academic progress in the 2020 – 2021 academic year.
  2. To maintain campus and classroom environments that significantly reduce opportunities for virus transmission.
  3. To provide students with a variety of well-designed approaches to learning in the fall 2020 semester, including face-to-face, online, and hybrid formats, with an emphasis on conducting face-to-face learning to the greatest extent possible.

Our ability to meet these goals will depend on all members of our community understanding that taking steps to reduce virus transmission is a shared responsibility.

Members of the Deans Council recognize that enacting these guidelines is challenging, and they have done their best to balance the tradeoffs inherent in such a situation with our shared goal of educating students to make a positive and consequential impact on society. Our experiences in the fall 2020 semester demonstrate that these guidelines, when combined with the measures outlined in the overall institutional plan, can substantially reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. Thus, academic guidelines will continue to rely on social distancing, wearing masks during personal interactions, following hygiene and cleaning practices recommended by the CDC, isolating individuals who test positive or have known exposure, avoiding high-risk situations, and remaining open to modifying elements of the overall plan if conditions change.

Neither the institutional plan nor these guidelines respond to every conceivable scenario—nor could they be expected to do so—but they do provide a framework for continuing the academic enterprise and conducting campus life in ways that are grounded in the best knowledge of our scientific and medical communities. As such, the Deans Council believes that these guidelines and the overall institutional plan will allow us to continue to fulfill our mission in the safest ways possible during this global pandemic. Each of its members stands ready to guide the academic enterprise in the context of the institutional plan, and each sees it as a living plan, which means that they are committed to listening to and working with faculty and students to ensure that the plan is serving our community well and being adjusted when necessary.

Healthy Campus Environment

Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing measures (a minimum of six feet of distance between individuals) must be maintained in all public spaces throughout the campus.
  • To the extent possible, all academic buildings will control when and how students can enter and exit. Signage and other mechanisms will be put in place to direct one-way traffic patterns and to indicate when students should enter a building for the next class meeting. Students should wait outside of academic buildings and maintain social distancing until the time indicated for entering the building for a particular class period. At that time, they should follow the traffic pattern. These measures are designed to reduce crowding in hallways and stairwells.
  • When it is not possible to control ingress and egress in certain academic areas, such as Ordway, students and faculty are asked to ensure that they maintain social distancing and wear masks when leaving or entering classes.
  • For those academic buildings that can control ingress and egress, entry/exit and traffic pattern plans, as well as timetables, will be posted conspicuously.
  • All advising will be conducted virtually through such means as video or phone conferencing.
  • All office hours will be held virtually using means similar to those for advising.
  • Masks must be worn in all academic buildings, unless individuals are alone in their offices.

Personal Protection and Hygiene

  • Masks are required in all classrooms and labs. Besides classrooms and labs, masks must be worn throughout academic buildings, including the library and archives. The only exception to this requirement is when members of the faculty or staff are alone in a private office. Masks must be worn in restrooms, hallways, stairwells, break rooms, and common areas.
  • Residential and commuter students are required to submit negative COVID test results within seven days of arrival on campus.
  • Frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer, dispensers of which have been placed conspicuously throughout campus, are strongly encouraged.
  • Faculty, staff, and students should self-evaluate daily for symptoms, including temperature checks. Any individual who has a fever of 100.3 Fahrenheit or higher, or who is experiencing any other symptoms identified by the CDC, should immediately self-quarantine.
    • Students should immediately contact their healthcare provider and/or the Student Health Center at 863.680.4292.
    • After hours, students should contact Campus Safety at 863.680.5010 for assistance and information about next steps.
    • Faculty should immediately contact their healthcare provider and report their situation to the appropriate dean and Human Resources for directions on next steps to take. After hours, they should contact
    • Staff should immediately contact their healthcare provider and report their situation to their immediate supervisor and Human Resources. Human Resources will provide directions on next steps to take. After hours, they should contact
  • While all areas of campus will be cleaned regularly and thoroughly by custodial staff, individuals must take responsibility for cleaning their spaces and personal effects (laptops, cell phones, bags, etc.) on a regular basis as well.
  • All academic areas will be provided with resources and directions for maintaining personal protection and other safety measures.

Healthy Classroom Environment

  • Classroom and lab spaces have been reconfigured to maintain social distancing among students and to establish a “teaching zone” to ensure that the instructor remains distanced as well. This has significantly reduced the capacity of each classroom and lab.
  • All tables, desks, and seating in the classroom must be maintained to ensure social distancing configurations and to avoid having students facing one another. Classroom furniture cannot be rearranged for any class meeting.
  • Masks are always required of faculty and students in all classrooms and labs.
  • Plexiglas shields have been installed throughout classrooms and labs wherever possible.
  • All classrooms have cleaning supplies available for the cleaning of personal spaces. While custodial staff will clean on a regular basis, faculty and students will clean their personal areas (e.g., desk) at the start of each class.
  • Antimicrobial air filters have been installed in academic buildings. Additionally, an antimicrobial surface protectant product has been applied to all air conditioning systems in our academic buildings to help prevent the growth and spread of bacteria.
  • All lab areas, regardless of their nature, must provide a written plan for cleaning and disinfecting and follow that plan. That plan will be submitted to the appropriate academic dean and posted conspicuously in the lab.
  • Attendance must be taken daily, and every class must establish assigned seating (a seating chart) in order to facilitate contact tracing if necessary.
  • Any student coded as “V” (remote learner) or “T” (temporarily remote learner) on a class roster may not attend classes in person. Faculty should direct any student who comes to a face-to-face class meeting and has been coded as such to leave the academic building immediately and contact Campus Safety at 863.680.5010.
  • At times, outdoor venues may be used for classes that require increased social distancing beyond six feet. Those arrangements must be made through the appropriate academic dean.
  • Eating is not permitted in any classroom or lab.
  • Drinks may be allowed in classrooms and labs at the discretion of the instructor. If allowed, they must have a lid. No open containers will be allowed.

COVID-19 Monitoring

  • Temperatures will be taken randomly across campus, including in academic buildings.
  • All members of our community must take personal responsibility to do temperature checks and self-evaluate their health on a daily basis. Faculty and students who believe that they are ill or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 should not go into any classroom or academic building until they are able to confirm through a healthcare provider that they have not been infected with the virus.
    • Students are advised to immediately contact their healthcare providers and the Student Health Center at 863.680.4292 if exposure has occurred, even if they are asymptomatic for COVID-19. After hours, students should contact Campus Safety at 863.680.5010 for assistance and information about next steps.
    • A student who has close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately contact Campus Safety at 863.680.5010 for quarantine assistance and information about next steps.
  • Faculty who believe that they are ill or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 should report it to the appropriate dean and Human Resources. Human Resources will provide directions on next steps to take.

Academic Program Delivery


  • Between January 11, 2021 and the start of the semester on January 26, 2021, a series of professional development sessions will be provided to faculty. The schedule of these sessions will be shared with faculty in early January. Faculty can anticipate topics like using Canvas, optimizing video-conferencing tools, responding to students not following guidelines, and a host of other relevant topics.
  • Faculty must post all syllabi, assignments, and grades on the LMS.
  • Courses may use multiple delivery formats—including but not limited to face-to-face teaching, hybrid/staggered instruction, and synchronous and asynchronous online delivery—as determined by class size, room capacities, and instructor needs. Face- to-face instruction, however, is the desired method and should be seen as the default delivery mode unless circumstances dictate otherwise.
  • Graded assignments should be distributed thoughtfully across the semester, with “frontloading” of assignments offered to the extent possible. In particular, faculty should ensure that high percentages of high-stakes grading do not occur only at the end of the semester. This is good practice under normal circumstances, but all the more important under pandemic circumstances, which can change suddenly.
  • Faculty are encouraged to provide maximum flexibility for student absences and late submission of assignments.
  • Faculty must prepare to transition to remote instruction at any point in the semester. Planning each course with this contingency in mind is essential.
  • For every class meeting that any student is absent, faculty must activate a video conferencing application (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.) and record the class session so that students can participate remotely should they have health reasons to do so.
  • While faculty will be provided with the instructional tools and materials necessary to conduct each class, they are responsible for bringing them to each class session and maintaining them when not in class. IT can help faculty troubleshoot any problems, but faculty should not assume that they will be able to secure quick replacements if they forget to bring these tools and materials to class.
  • In lab settings that require partners, faculty are encouraged to establish lab partnerships that will be maintained throughout the entire semester. Lab partners should only be changed when absolutely necessary.
  • Faculty are encouraged to explore a variety of methods for engaging students across the potential teaching modalities.
  • Faculty also are encouraged to use creative and innovative methods for engaging students in scholarly and creative activities, such as streaming performances that might have been delivered to a live audience under normal circumstances or conducting research through electronic databases in lieu of a field trip to learn about an industry.


  • Unless a specific program has scheduled otherwise, such as the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, spring 2021 semester classes begin January 26, 2021.
    • Graduate students should consult with their dean.
  • Because of the later than typical start date to the semester, there will be no Spring Break week in the spring 2021 semester.
  • Commencement will be held on May 15, 2021.
  • All other dates in the published academic calendar should be adhered to when planning for and conducting classes in the spring 2021 semester.
  • All advising and office hours must be conducted virtually.
  • Meetings of schools, departments, committees, and any other academic working groups should be conducted virtually.
  • General faculty meetings will be conducted virtually.

Clinical and Off-campus Experiences

  • Faculty must pre-determine any necessary adjustments for any off-campus experiences in the spring 2021 semester, including but not limited to ensuring that appropriate CDC recommendations can be followed during the experience, and clearly communicate those to students before they engage in those experiences.
  • If reasonably safe conditions cannot be secured for an off-campus experience, then faculty should design an alternative experience that can achieve similar outcomes to the off-campus experience.
  • All students participating in off-campus experiences must first sign the Florida Southern College Student Internship Insurance Coverage, Personal Conduct, Assumption of Risk, Waiver of Liability, Covenant Not to Sue, Indemnification and Hold Harmless Agreement, or an approved alternative agreement as established by a particular program.
  • Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from clinical and off-campus experiences.

Instructional Technology

  • Faculty are encouraged to align instructional technologies carefully with the goals of their courses. A minimalist approach to technology is recommended. It is important that the technologies selected clearly relate to the learning goals and that both faculty and students minimize the need to learn new technologies “on the fly.”
  • Professional development and online resources will be provided before and during the spring 2021 semester to support the various pedagogies that will be used during this period.
  • Classroom technology tools will be provided to deliver instruction. Any requests should be directed to the appropriate academic dean.
  • Faculty must use the LMS for all assignments and grades.
  • To the extent possible, faculty should have students submit work electronically.

Library Services

  • Librarians will continue to meet with classes via videoconference, provide remote consultations and reference assistance, and develop research guides for courses and academic programs. Until further notice, librarians will not visit classrooms in person for information literacy instruction.
  • In addition to in-building services, the library will offer front door pickup for physical items. Text 863.274.2039 to schedule a pickup.
  • Circulating items will be quarantined for a period of four days upon return, and they may remain checked out to individual accounts until that quarantine has ended.
  • Materials on course reserve will be shelved with the regular collection and will circulate for a predetermined length of time.
  • Study space in Roux Library and in the McKay Archives has been reduced to support social distancing. Tables and seating may not be rearranged.
  • Use of the library classroom is restricted until further notice.
  • Scheduled events held in the library and archives will be limited to small academic gatherings such as dissertation defenses. These events will be restricted to members of the campus community.

Last updated: January 13, 2021