COVID-19 FACULTY GUIDANCE
COVID-19 FACULTY GUIDANCE
Alabama A&M University continues to prioritize the health and well-being of its students, faculty and staff while providing students with exceptional instruction by a stellar faculty. While AAMU has returned to face-to-face classroom instruction, the fact that a pandemic looms is evident and provisions must be made to address it.
Toward that end, the introduction and availability of COVID-19 vaccinations and a booster to respond to emergent mutants have provided an opportunity for the entire AAMU family to significantly reduce COVID-19 risk and transmission. Each student, faculty member and staff person has been presented with the option of taking available vaccine(s) and the booster via the Student Health and Wellness Center.
Although state laws prohibit requiring vaccine administration, AAMU continues to encourage all faculty to become fully vaccinated as this is currently the best way to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 or transmitting the virus to family, colleagues, students or others. The vaccines can also help to prevent serious illness and death. Thus, it is within the context of protecting the Bulldog Family, while prioritizing teaching excellence, that AAMU emphasizes:
- All members of the campus community are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
- Get tested, if you have COVID symptoms.
- If you test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, stay home for 5 days and until cleared to return by the Office of Human Resources.
- Comply with the current AAMU mask mandate.
- Maintain social distancing, when possible.
- Practice "universal precautions," both on and off campus.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
WHAT IS AAMU DOING TO MITIGATE THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE BULLDOG FAMILY?
In addition to providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, the University has taken significant measures to mitigate COVID-19 risk. These measures include:
- Mask mandate in all indoor spaces for students, faculty, staff
- Classroom configurations accommodating minimum social distancing of 3 feet
- HEPPA Filters installed in each classroom. These purifiers remove at least 80% (likely more) of contaminants from each classroom every 15 minutes. These purifiers were designed to clean the air of significantly larger spaces (up to 2500 square feet every 30 minutes).
Currently, the University environment is classified as “mixed,” meaning that AAMU has a population consisting of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons. Because of this mixed population, AAMU takes extra precautions to ensure the safety of the University family. Each member of the University family should practice universal precautions and assume that any student, faculty, staff or administrator, or member of the general public (with whom they come in contact on or off campus) has COVID-19.
WHO SHOULD BE TESTED FOR COVID-19?
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
- People who have had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
- People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure.
- People who are not fully vaccinated should be tested immediately after being exposed, and, if negative, tested again in 3-5 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER MY PERIOD IN ISOLATION HAS ENDED?
- On the day prior to your isolation period ending, please contact the Office of Human Resources to communicate if you are symptomatic or asymptomatic.
- Before returning to campus, please contact the Office of Human Resources to receive an official clearance to return.
CONTACTS AND EXPOSURE
WHAT IS A "CLOSE CONTACT" AS IT RELATES TO COVID-19 EXPOSURE?
As it relates to COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, if they are asymptomatic, 2 days before their specimen that tested positive was collected), until they meet the criteria for discontinuing home isolation.
WHAT IS A CONTACT TRACING SURVEY?
Faculty, staff, students or anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, will be asked to complete a Contact Tracing Survey. This survey asks the COVID-19 positive person to identify those persons with whom they have come in close contact within 2 days before they tested positive. Faculty who are teaching in-person classes will be asked to identify any students with whom they have had close contact. Persons identified on the Contact Tracing Survey will be notified that they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. They will be asked to report to the Student Health and Wellness Center for testing.
WHAT IF ...
HOW DO FACULTY CONFIRM A STUDENT’S SELF-REPORT OF COVID-19 POSITIVITY?
A student who has been tested via the Student Health and Wellness Center and who is confirmed to be positive will receive a formal notice of their COVID-19 status, which they may share with faculty as proof of their COVID-19 positivity. It should be noted that absences related to COVID-19 are excused. As is the protocol for other illnesses that are unrelated to COVID -19, the student should obtain a formal excuse from the Office of Veterans Affairs and Disability Services upon their return to class. Consistent with University guidelines related to illness, a COVID-19 positive student cannot provide an instructor with an excuse for COVID-19 related absences before they return to class.
WHAT SHOULD FACULTY MEMBERS DO IF A STUDENT WITH WHOM THEY INTERACT IN CLASS, LAB, OR DURING ADVISING TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?
Once a student tests positive for COVID-19, that student receives official notification from the Student Health and Wellness Center regarding their status. If a student self-reports, a faculty member may ask them for a copy of the official notification from the Student Health and Wellness Center. Please note that even if a student tests positive off campus, they should be directed to contact the Student Health and Wellness Center to inform them regarding their positive test and to obtain a formal letter which includes important guidance.
Once a student tests positive, the student will be required to complete a Contract Tracing Form. This form includes a list of their classes and instructors. As a result, the Student Health and Wellness Center will contact each instructor and make a request for the relevant course rosters for notification purposes. Faculty members should be prepared to respond to the Wellness Center’s request for class rosters within 24-48 hours.
WHAT SHOULD A FULLY VACCINATED AND BOOSTERED FACULTY MEMBER DO WHEN A STUDENT IN HIS OR HER CLASS (WITH WHOM THERE HAS BEEN CLOSE CONTACT) REPORTS TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?
Faculty who are fully vaccinated and have received the booster shot should: (1) alert the Department Chair and Dean of the exposure; (2) alert the Student Health and Wellness Center; (3) get tested within 5 days after exposure or sooner if experiencing symptoms; (4) quarantine for 5 days if testing positive themselves; (5) continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings, to include when teaching class. Please note that once the Student Health and Wellness Center has been contacted, Wellness Center personnel will outline next steps, including instructions regarding the conditions under which faculty may return to campus.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM FACULTY MEMBER WHO IS NOT FULLY VACCINATED AND A STUDENT IN MY CLASS WITH WHOM I HAVE HAD CLOSE CONTACT REPORTS THAT THEY HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?
Faculty who are not fully vaccinated and have not received the booster shot should: (1) alert the Department Chair and Dean of the exposure; (2) alert the Student Health and Wellness Center; (3) quarantine for 5 days; (4) get tested within 3-5 days after exposure; and (4) continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings, to include when teaching class. Please note that once the Student Health and Wellness Center has been contacted, Wellness Center personnel will outline next steps, including instructions regarding the conditions under which faculty may return to campus.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 VIA THE STUDENT HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER?
If you test positive for COVID-19 via the Student Health and Wellness Center, you should: (1) alert the Department Chair and Dean of your COVID-Positive Status; (2) complete a contact tracing document with the Wellness Center, which includes close contacts with students in your classes; (3) make alternate arrangements for coverage of your face-to-face class(es) and in-person advising for the next 5 days; (4) isolate for 5 days; (4) follow the directives of the Student Health and Wellness Center and HR regarding your return to in-person teaching. Provide your chairperson with updates regarding your status.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AS A FACULTY MEMBER, IF I TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AT AN OFF -CAMPUS LOCATION?
Faculty who test positive for COVID-19 via the Student Health and Wellness Center should: (1) alert the Department Chair and Dean of their COVID-Positive Status; (2) Alert the Student Health and Wellness Center and complete a contact tracing survey, which includes close contacts with students in your classes; (3) make alternate arrangements for coverage of their face-to-face class(es) and in-person advising for the next 5 days; (4) Isolate for 5 days; (4) follow the directives of the Student Health and Wellness Center and HR regarding a return to in-person teaching. Provide the chairperson with updates regarding COVID-19 status.
'Can We Talk?' - INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDELINES
- Do what you can to be prepared to demonstrate teaching flexibility!
- If you haven’t already done so, please consider uploading all course materials to Blackboard so students can access them in the event that you and or they must quarantine.
- Please consider recording your lectures to reduce the need for asynchronous learning and to maintain the highest levels of face-to-face instruction should you be required to isolate or quarantine. The Office of Distance Education, Extended Studies, and Instructional Technology has an array of tools and resources to assist you: https://www.aamu.edu/academics/distance-education-extended-studies/
- If your course syllabus has requirements for attendance and makeup assignments, please be flexible when students provide legitimate documentation of illness, isolation and quarantine orders.
- Remember all courses must be delivered via the delivery mode specified during enrollment, and hold to that delivery method for the duration of the semester, unless a change is approved by the Provost.
- If you test positive for COVID and must quarantine, please contact your Department Chair and Dean, as soon as possible. If you’re well enough to teach via Zoom, please do so at the regularly scheduled time of your class(es). As you would in the case of any other illness, make alternate arrangements for your class(es) in concert with the Department Chair, whom you should keep updated regarding your status. Please also upload relevant class materials to Blackboard until you can return to face-to-face instruction. Please also be advised that if your health status results in a prolonged absence from the University, you should consult with the Office of Human Resources to discuss FMLA (https://www.aamu.edu/about/administrative-offices/human-resources/).
Please note that while you may encourage students to be vaccinated, you may not: (1) ask them about their vaccination status, (2) insist that they get the vaccine, (3) ask for proof of vaccination, or (4) require students to be vaccinated in order to attend class or participate in campus events or activities. Due to health care privacy laws and regulations, the University may not disclose to you the vaccine status of students in your classes.
AND, FINALLY ...
AAMU appreciates the extraordinary efforts of its faculty during this unprecedented time. Thanks for all efforts to ensure that the campus remains "Bulldog Strong" while maintaining the academic continuity essential to the success of AAMU students.
For additional information, and any future updates, please see: https://www.aamu.edu/campus-life/student-support/health-services/coronavirus/