Updated September 9, 2020
How were final decisions about modes made?
College deans and school chairs were asked to select the most appropriate mode of instruction for each course in order to maximize student learning while minimizing health risks. In consultation with the colleges and schools, the Registrar’s Office and Capital Planning and Space Management (CPSM), the Institute will confirm classroom assignments and delivery modes based on space available, prioritizing certain classes for in-person delivery.
While there were some modifications because of unavoidable space limitations, where possible, school chair preferences were honored.
How are classroom spaces being assigned and set up? How many people can each room hold? Will classroom seats be numbered?
Georgia Tech modeled 6 ft. distances in order to calculate room capacities. Because of the limited supply of rooms with adequate capacity to accommodate social distancing recommendations, priority will be given to lab classes, group project classes, senior design classes, project-based classes, classes requiring physical equipment, and discussion classes. Classroom assignments are in Banner. Please recognize there may be necessary changes before the first day of classes.
Classroom setups (furniture, A/V, etc.) are being tested by building managers using seat maps from Capital Planning and Space Management (CPSM). CPSM is currently working on classroom capacities and seating configurations for all centrally scheduled classroom spaces. A diagram will be located in each classroom to assist faculty and students. These diagrams will also be available to faculty prior to the beginning of the semester. Please take a look at the signage displayed to determine how many people should be in a room under these new guidelines.
In centrally scheduled classrooms:
- Seats are being spaced measuring 6 feet from center of chair to center of chair. Classrooms may have a decreased capacity as a result.
- CPSM post signs on available seats.
- Unavailable chairs/desks will be marked “do not use.”
In department-scheduled classrooms:
- Use a tape measure to space seats 6 feet apart (from center of chair to center of chair).
- Instructor space should be 10 feet from the closest student seat or desk.
- A sign template is being created for use in department-scheduled classrooms.
- Whenever possible, existing furniture configuration should remain with chairs marked unavailable as needed. This will prevent the need for furniture storage and potential egress issues (per the fire marshal).
Will there be any extensions to the deadlines for things such as tuition due dates and withdrawals?
Any available information regarding due dates is available at https://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/students.
How should faculty prepare their syllabi?
Syllabi should clearly outline expectations for the course, particularly those related to the course delivery mode. Course expectations for a hybrid course, including the course attendance policy and the expectation for in-person meetings, should be clearly defined in the course syllabus. Please participate in the Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy for guidance on syllabus preparation. The Center for Teaching and Learning has created a template for adapting syllabi for courses planned for fall, including in-person with physical distancing, hybrid, and remote modes. Additional resources are under development to assist faculty with syllabus language regarding attendance and required use of face coverings, among other issues.
What tools should I use to deliver my classes online? Which tools and services are authorized for use in remote instruction?
Faculty must use Georgia Tech-provided tools and platforms in order to safeguard student information. Those existing tools include Canvas, Kaltura, Piazza, and BlueJeans and WebEx video conferencing. Find the full list of authorized tools, resources, and tutorials for all of those services and more at services.gatech.edu.
Where can instructors find help in using AV technologies in the classroom?
GT Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy Course: https://gatech.instructure.com/courses/152498
Resources, including recordings from training sessions: https://gatech.instructure.com/courses/152498/pages/synchronous-session-gt- classroom-av-technologies-in-support-of-hybrid-teaching?module_item_id=961498
How will attendance and tardiness policies be handled in the fall?
Faculty are asked to record class attendance to assist with contact tracing, if needed.
Absences: Faculty members are encouraged to be flexible and lenient in allowing students to make up for absences or late work. These policies will avoid encouraging students who are feeling ill to come to class. Absences from in-person or remote class sessions may be due to health and personal reasons, including but not limited to Covid-19 illness, preventive quarantine, or isolation. Attendance policies should be published in the syllabus by the first class of the semester. In the event of an absence, faculty or staff should not ask students for documentation of illness or health risks. If necessary, you may follow existing procedures for requesting documentation from the Office of the Dean of Students.
Tardiness: Faculty members should make allowances for late arrivals and not penalize latecomers unless they are frequent or egregious. Campus will be more difficult to navigate in the fall due to unfamiliar classrooms, one-way corridors, and transportation and elevators operating at reduced capacity. The inter-class period of 15 minutes is the same, so some students will unavoidably arrive late for in-person classes.
How will faculty offer office hours?
Faculty are asked to hold office hours in person and virtually, as appropriate for the class delivery mode.
If only 20-30% of students can be in class in hybrid, what guidance can you give to faculty on how to distribute students because students basically can only attend every third or fifth class?
Faculty may determine their student cohorts using a variety of different models. These include alphabetically or student teams for collaborative projects. Faculty can also use a Canvas quiz (ungraded) or Qualtrics survey to get student preferences. Once the cohorts have been determined, students can be assigned to a Group Set in Canvas (under People). Each group will have its own Homepage in Canvas, where faculty can interact directly with each cohort. Email within Canvas will also allow you to send messages directly to an individual group.
Will the Institute reimburse students and faculty who need to purchase webcams and/or internet access to attend or teach courses and conduct research online?
Students in need of financial assistance to secure the technology and equipment needed to support their education can apply for funding through the Student Emergency Fund managed by Student Life.
Faculty members who need to secure equipment to support their instruction should make a request through their school chair. We are extending the ability for departments to charge technology purchases for remote learning needs throughout FY21 directly to the technology fee. They may use worktag DE00016839 (in WorkDay), along with the Covid project code, and the items will be approved centrally for purchase against the Tech Fee budget.
Will faculty have the discretion to choose the specific hybrid mode for their class? Can they determine how often it should meet? Can they start instruction remotely and meet on campus later?
Yes, faculty members should choose the hybrid mode that is most appropriate to the pedagogical needs of the course. Instructors will also need to assess the capacity of the assigned classroom space. There is not a policy requiring a minimum number of in-person meetings for a hybrid course. However, faculty should seek to engage the students in a few meaningful in-person meetings throughout the term. The exact number and timing should be determined by the instructor in accordance with significant events in their syllabus. The faculty member has flexibility to choose when those touchpoints are most effective for the course.
Where will instructor expectations for how often a hybrid class will meet in person be posted?
Students and advisors can look that up in OSCAR, via the course expectations tool.
Where will hybrid classroom assignments be posted? Will faculty “share” rooms?
Final room assignments will be published in OSCAR by early August ahead of the first day of classes. The Registrar’s office will work with Schools to ensure there is no overlap in classroom assignments.
Can students take hybrid courses fully remote?
Please see our answer under “Student Accommodations.”
What will face-to-face instruction look like?
With limited seating in a classroom, a smaller group of students may attend the class on rotating intervals with the remaining students either performing complementary self-paced work or participating in the class remotely for those sessions. The exact number of students will depend on the seating capacity of rooms and the frequency of class meeting times.
Classes that meet three times per week should generally be divided into three groups of students, each of which attend in person during one of the three meetings.
Similarly, a class that meets twice weekly should be divided into two groups. For classes meeting only once per week, we recommend that the class be divided into two groups each of which attends in person on alternate weeks.
For hybrid courses, instructors can pair similarly structured in-person experiences with remote engagement.
In all delivery modes, faculty will accept papers, projects, tests, homework, and other assignments only in electronic form unless the assignment is a physical artifact.
Should fans be used in or out of the classroom to circulate air? What about opening windows?
Fans should not be used, and windows should be kept closed in classrooms. Based on early research, fans are likely to keep virus particles airborne for greater distances, and hence are strongly discouraged. Open windows can interfere with the building's HVAC system and affect ventilation, and are thus also discouraged. For more information on ventilation, see Health and Safety below.
How will microphones and other technology be distributed, sanitized between uses, and kept in good repair?
Classrooms with recording technology will use built-in microphones to avoid contamination and possible spread. For voice amplification, many of the mid and large size centrally scheduled classrooms have speech re-enforcement systems. Faculty can review items available for check-out here: https://avservices.oit.gatech.edu/eform/submit/wireless-microphone-request.
As for captioning, if your recording (whatever tools you use) is delivered through Canvas and Kaltura, it will receive a machine-generated captioning (~70-80% accuracy, depending on the speaker and subject matter).
Will face shields in the classrooms be used by multiple faculty?
No. Personal protective equipment will not and should not be shared among individuals. Face shields will be issued to faculty members through their schools as requested by school chairs. You can use your personal face shield all semester. Note that face shields should be disinfected after each use.
Do faculty/instructors need to ask permission from the students in order to record classes?
Faculty/instructors are not required to obtain permission to record a class if the recording will not be shared with persons outside of students enrolled in such class. Faculty, however, should inform students prior to recording.
May faculty/instructors share a recording of class activities with students enrolled in the class?
A recording of class activities may be shared with enrolled students. Students may not share the recording with persons outside of the class.
What if faculty/instructors need to share video of class activities with persons outside of the enrolled class?
Faculty/instructors may record without student consent if they are not recording identifiable students. This type of recording protects student privacy and is not subject to FERPA.
- Recording only the faculty/instructor’s video and audio.
- Do not identify or refer to students by full name or by other means that allow identification during the recording.
- Have students ask questions without identifying themselves. For example, they can pose the question in chat and the instructor can read it and respond. In this case, “chat” or “comments” should not be shared without additional consent.
If a recording contains personally identifiable information about the students (names, facial images, audio recordings, or comments), then the recording may not be shared with persons outside of the class without student consent.
How is consent obtained when participation is voluntary?
If class participation is voluntary and not required/graded, the faculty/instructor may inform students that by participating with their video camera enabled, they are consenting.
For example, a statement to students:
If you are unwilling to consent to have your profile or video image recorded, be sure to keep your camera off and do not use a profile image that depicts your face. Likewise, students who un-mute during class and participate orally are agreeing to have their voices recorded. If you are not willing to consent to have your voice recorded during class, you will need to keep your mute button activated and communicate exclusively using the “chat” feature, which allows students to type questions and comments live.
In this case, “chat” or “comments” should not be shared without additional consent.
How is consent obtained when participation is required?
The instructor should obtain written consent from each student on the recording before disclosing the recording to individuals outside of the class.
Sample language for obtaining written consent:
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the written consent of a student is required before the education records of a student, or personally identifiable information contained therein, may be disclosed to a third party, unless an exception to this general requirement of written consent applies.
I, _______ [insert name], agree to allow the Georgia Institute of Technology (“Georgia Tech”) to disclose recordings of class activities, including audio or video recordings of my participation in lectures or other similar class activities, for educational purposes, including using the recording to show prospective or current Georgia Tech students.
I understand that I may withdraw my consent to share this information at any time by submitting a written request.
What platforms may be used to record classes?
All recordings must be delivered through Georgia Tech-approved tools: Canvas/Kaltura, BlueJeans, MS Teams, or Webex.
What is the policy if students want to record part of their classes?
Faculty/Instructors may prohibit students from making their own recordings unless required as an Institute-required accommodation. Faculty/Instructors may allow recordings but prohibit sharing.
Course content, recordings, exams, and materials provided by the instructor of this course are for the use of the students enrolled in the course only and cannot be further disseminated. Electronic video/audio recordings initiated by students is not permitted unless explicit permission is granted by the instructor.
Is asynchronous preferred for remote instruction?
If you're teaching remotely, yes. It provides students with more flexibility over their class schedules if they want to re-register in Phase II, and for international students it avoids time-zone difficulties.
Can asynchronous classes have synchronous events?
Yes, but any synchronous events must be optional. Asynchronous classes may not contain mandatory synchronous events. Keep in mind that overseas students attending remotely may have difficulty attending synchronous events due to time zone differences.
I am teaching a synchronous class. Can I change the time of my synchronous class sessions?
No. Synchronous classes will be held at the advertised times only.
I will be taking classes remotely overseas. Do I need permission to register for a class that is listed as hybrid or residential? Can I register for a synchronous remote class?
If you cannot travel to the U.S., contact your faculty members, explain your situation, and discuss the potential for taking hybrid courses in remote mode. In exceptional cases, there may be compelling educational or instructional reasons a hybrid or residential course cannot be taken remotely as an accommodation. If this is the case, your faculty member will explain, and you and your academic advisor should work to find a suitable alternative. Otherwise, your request will be accommodated. If you will be attending synchronous classes remotely from overseas, be aware that time zone differences may make it difficult to attend synchronous sessions.
For students abroad who want to take hybrid courses, do they need to register with the Office of International Education (OIE), and is that registration process available?
The Office of International Education (OIE) will collect information about the physical location of new and continuing F and J student visa holders and will share this information with academic programs, the Registrar, and the Bursar’s office to help support the Student and Exchange Visitor Program updates, course advising, fee adjustments, and other administrative procedures. Students are encouraged to complete the following e-forms by the first date of classes and no later than the end of Phase II registration:
- New students must submit the iStart “Arrival Confirmation” e-form
- Continuing students with F or J visas must submit the iStart “Fall Intentions” e-form
How do international students prove that they have one residential course?
OIE is providing a letter to these students that states the institution is providing a mix of traditional and hybrid delivery. We encourage students to travel with this letter in addition to any other proof of enrollment (i.e. print out of registration from OSCAR). Students can request the support letter at istart.gatech.edu. The letter is personalized for the student and includes the academic start date and mode of instruction. The letter's content is based on guidance about what information is being requested at ports of entry.
Will all international students need to quarantine as soon as they arrive?
When an individual arrives in the U.S. or after any travel away from Atlanta, they should follow the current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to this guidance, any international or domestic travel carries with it the risk of exposure, infection, and transmission of Covid-19. This risk remains for 14 days after your return. Regardless of where you have traveled, what you did during your trip, or whether or not you have symptoms, you should take the following actions to protect yourself and your fellow Yellow Jackets:
- If you do not have symptoms, we strongly encourage you to get tested weekly at one of Georgia Tech’s surveillance testing sites. Testing is free, saliva-based, and available at several campus locations. Testing information and registration can be found here.
- If you develop symptoms of Covid-19 or think you may have been exposed to Covid-19, refer to the Decision Tree for information on next steps.
- Follow the health and safety Campus Guidelines, including wearing a face covering, social distancing, and washing hands regularly.
- Download the Daily Self-Checklist. Complete this checklist each morning before leaving your residence.
Can new international students register before they arrive on campus? I thought there was a hold in place until they checked in. Will this change for this term?
We've removed holds for registration for all student visa holders (graduate and undergraduate) who have followed the appropriate steps to request their immigration documents. Holds will become effective on August 24 for all visa holders to ensure they either complete the International Student Check-in required by both federal and state law, or indicate they will be coming in a future semester.
When will the Fall Intentions for continuing international students be live/posted? Can advisors see a copy of the form/questions?
Yes, the form is live on istart.gatech.edu.
What process should a student follow to request an academic or employment accommodation?
Students may request an accommodation through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) due to 1) presence of a condition as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or 2) identification as an individual of higher risk for Covid-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Registering with ODS is a 3-step process that includes completing an application, uploading documentation related to the accommodation request, and scheduling an appointment for an “intake meeting” (either in person or via phone or video conference) with a disability coordinator.
Students who work as undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants seeking an employment accommodation should also complete the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form.
Will accommodations be made for students who are at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 or who live with others who are at high risk? Is there a difference between the processes for undergrad and graduate students?
See the Students at Higher Risk for Severe Illness with Covid-19 section in the Student Guidebook. Undergraduate and graduate students may request academic accommodations through the same process.
How do students with ODS accommodations to take their courses remotely proceed? How should faculty handle their requests to take hybrid and residential courses remotely?
If a student has been approved by ODS for an accommodation, they should first see if the course they wish to take is offered in a remote format. If not, they should contact the instructors of any hybrid or residential course they wish to take remotely to discuss the request.
Instructors should work closely with the student to understand their needs and make a good faith effort to investigate whether or not the requested accommodations are possible for the course.
If the accommodation request results in a fundamental alteration of the stated learning outcome of the hybrid or residential course, it may not be possible to take the course remotely. In these cases, ODS, academic advisors, and the school offering the course will work with the student to find a suitable alternative that as far as possible preserves their progress toward graduation.
Can students without an ODS accommodation take hybrid courses fully remote? How should instructors handle such requests?
Students who do not have an ODS accommodation but who wish take a hybrid or residential course remotely may contact the instructor to discuss their situation and request. All such requests are handled by individual course instructors on a case-by-case basis.
There may be exceptional cases where a student may have an otherwise unforeseen situation or argument for remote access. If the accommodation request results in a fundamental alteration of the stated learning outcome of the hybrid or residential course, it may not be possible to take the course remotely. In these cases, academic advisors and the school offering the course will work with the student to find a suitable alternative that as far as possible preserves their progress toward graduation.
How are we approaching closed captioning for faculty teaching courses for those with hearing difficulties, since the BlueJeans subscription Tech currently has does not support that?
We encourage the use of Microsoft Teams instead of BlueJeans at this time for captioning as it has an automated function to do so. The Office of Disability Services can also do live (real time) captioning as needed, but needs some notice to arrange.
What advice does disability services have for conducting advising appointments? Most of the virtual platforms that we access to, like BlueJeans meetings, do not have a closed captioning option.
The Office of Disability Services encourages the use of Microsoft Teams instead of BlueJeans at this time for captioning as it has an automated function to do so.
What are the expectations concerning special students during Fall 2020?
During Fall 2020 some categories of non-matriculated students will not be attending classes. These may include special students, Excel students, Georgia residents over 62, international exchange students, and others. Special students who do attend in-person classes should comply with all expectations. Coordinators of relevant programs will respond to faculty concerns promptly and work to address them.
Can a faculty member still request a teaching accommodation?
Course mode designations for fall semester have been finalized based on all accommodation requests received to date. If a faculty member has a change in their health situation, requests for teaching accommodation can be made at any time.
Can instructors with an approved Covid-19 high risk health accommodation lead a hybrid course where they are off-campus and on-campus instruction is led by a TA?
Yes, faculty members can choose to administer courses in this manner as long as the assigned TA does not also have an approved accommodation. Faculty members should work in consultation with their school chair about TA assignments.
What accommodations are available for a faculty or staff members with children whose school is closed or may close at some point in the semester?
Employees who cannot return to work due to a Covid-19 related qualifying condition or a disability may be eligible for leave options depending upon their situation. In all cases, the employee should consult with their supervisor to discuss alternative work arrangements or schedules. For more information, please visit: https://hr.gatech.edu/families-first-coronavirus-response-act.
If someone meets the criteria for an accommodation, do they still have the option to teach/work on campus if they so choose?
Yes, requesting an accommodation is a personal choice, and not required.
Are individuals with mental health concerns (i.e. anxiety, depression) qualified to request accommodations?
Mental health concerns may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Visit: https://hr.gatech.edu/resources/employee-relations/disability and complete the Georgia Tech Reasonable Accommodation Form.
How should we prepare to support students with anxiety and/or depression, whether documented with the Office of Disability Services or not, should different course modalities exacerbate their conditions?
Faculty who are concerned about a student should refer the student to Georgia Tech’s Center for Assessment, Referral and Education (CARE)or call CARE and express their concern. A faculty member can also refer a student to the Office of the Dean of Students through a referral tab: https://referral.studentlife.gatech.edu/.
Additionally, it is important faculty and staff approach students with flexibility, compassion, and understanding as they navigate their semester with courses in multiple modalities.
Is there a way for students to access CARE without calling to make an appointment?
Any students uncomfortable with using the phone can visit the CARE office in person. Additionally, it is important that faculty and staff approach students with flexibility, compassion, and understanding as they navigate their semester with courses in multiple modalities.
Will online students (i.e Analytics, Cybersecurity, Computer Science) also have access to mental health support services?
There is no change in these OMS online degree programs, noting they are low cost and these students do not pay to have access to all services.
How will student services like advising, counseling, and tutoring be offered in the fall?
Please visit the Student Guidebook, under “Student Life and Student Services.”
Is it permitted to conduct in-person meetings with students in my classes, research group, or students I advise?
In most cases, we recommend meetings (1:1 or small groups) be conducted remotely. This is the preferred and most common option used by academic advisors and other student services. When in-person 1:1 or small group meetings are needed or requested, meetings should be set up in a place that accommodates social distancing and follows other health guidance, such as face masks, etc.
Will the instructional modes appear on student transcripts? If yes, how would this affect grad/medical school admissions?
There is no current plan to record all instructional modes of courses on transcripts. Many medical schools have already indicated they are aware of the move to online/remote learning and are showing flexibility under the current circumstances. Specific questions about medical and graduate school applications or related issues may be directed to the Office of Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising.
How will Georgia Tech handle Incomplete grades in the fall semester? How will students who received an Incomplete in the Spring or Summer 2020 complete their work?
Standard policies on Incomplete grades still apply, but Georgia Tech encourages greater flexibility under the current circumstances. Please make every effort to accept late work and allow make-up work before the end-of-semester grade deadline to reduce the need for Incomplete grades in the fall. If any of your students received Incomplete grades in Spring or Summer 2020, please work with them early in the fall semester to clarify expectations about makeup work.
What physical spaces on campus will be available for students for solo study or remote class attendance?
The Library and Clough Commons will have reservable rooms that will have a maximum capacity of one or two people depending on the size of room and whether social distancing is possible. Also, other open spaces and seating will also be available (with social distancing requirements and face covering guidance in place). Starbucks will also be open, but just for mobile pickup (no cafe seating).
Will students have access to printers on campus this fall? Will there be changes to that access?
There will be some operational printers in Price Gilbert and other places; however, faculty have been asked to plan to accept ALL papers, projects, tests, homework, and other assignments only in electronic format unless the assignment is a physical artifact.
Are laptops available for students to borrow? What about hotspots? Can they be shipped?
- The Library has a limited quantity of laptops available for long-term loan for students in need. Students can contact email@example.com to request a laptop. For students in need of a computer, a variety of laptops/tablets are available for no-cost, long-term loan and can be shipped to addresses off-campus or picked up on campus by appointment.
- OIT-Digital Services can also provide loaner laptops and hotspots to students. Requests can be made here (requires a Georgia Tech login).
What is in the wellness kits being given to students?
The kits will include a drawstring backpack, water bottle, thermometer, reusable mask, and hand sanitizer. These kits will be given to undergraduate and graduate students living in residence halls upon move-in. For non-residential students, reusable masks and hand sanitizer will be available for pickup at various locations around campus from August 10-24.
Are there plans to increase the number of trolleys and shuttles for students to get from class to class?
Yes, we have increased the number of buses on the Gold (Trolley) and Blue routes by 60% during peak class times. This should help alleviate delays due to the social distancing protocols on the buses. For the safety of the entire Georgia Tech community, the following transit passenger guidelines are currently in place:
- Avoid riding if you are sick.
- Use queue markers at bus stops to maintain distance.
- Board and exit through rear doors when possible.
- Wear a mask. If you do not have one, request a mask from the driver.
- Follow seat spacing guidelines.
- Standing is not allowed. If a seat is not available, wait for the next bus.
- Limit contact with others.
Georgia Tech has increased measures to disinfect transit vehicles, done with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Public Transportation Association. Our drivers perform a health safety check daily and wear face coverings and face shields.
Please continue to follow the CDC's recommendations to protect yourself and the Georgia Tech community and visit http://pts.gatech.edu/information-incoming-students for Parking and Transportation updates.
What health and safety measures are in place on campus? Will there be any changes to ventilation in classroom and other campus facilities?
Beyond the required face coverings, physical distancing, and personal hygiene that we will each practice, you will also see necessary changes around campus. Those changes will include enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures; new configurations and seating in classrooms, labs, and office spaces; new expectations for transportation, housing, and dining services; ongoing risk assessments and analyses; and testing, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols. Facilities Management has been hard at work to ensure that indoor environments are clean and safe. Efforts include the evaluation and maintenance of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that support these buildings so they may provide a high degree of indoor air quality. Each building’s system is unique, but in general, efforts have been focused on ensuring these systems are operating at their peak condition and in conformance with campus and Board of Regents standards, as well as industry best practices.
Since buildings that are typically not classroom building are now being used for classroom space, how can faculty or staff request an inspection/evaluation of their building's layout for social distancing and safety?
If you would like an evaluation done of your building for safety, please reach out to your area maintenance manager. Building managers can help arrange this evaluation with your area maintenance leadership.
How is Georgia Tech involving the scientific community in its decision making?
We have engaged multiple groups of faculty domain experts to provide advice and input to the Institute, along with the guidance we follow from the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is the face covering policy? How should I handle students or coworkers not wearing face coverings in class, meetings, offices, public spaces, etc.?
University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where maintaining 6 feet of distance may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing. Face coverings are not required in one’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met.
If an individual forgets to bring a face covering to class or into any indoor space, there will be a clearly marked supply of these in each building. Situations in which students fail to follow Georgia Tech’s policies on social distancing and face coverings should be handled incrementally. Initially, remind the student of the policy and if necessary, ask them to leave the class, meeting, or space. If they still fail to follow the policy, you may refer the student to the Office of the Dean of Students. Staff members should speak to their supervisor or HR Business Partner if it concerns the workplace.
We are aware that situations will occur when social distancing will be briefly impossible, such as students passing other students to get to assigned seats, or coworkers passing in corridors or hallways. Please do not consider these situations violations of Georgia Tech policies.
For instructors, should you be unable to continue class safely due to student violations of Georgia Tech’s policies on face coverings and social distancing, please notify the chair of the relevant school chair or dean of the college.
Faculty and Staff:
Communicating with your co-workers - Coming back to campus safely means recognizing that simple, individual actions affect everyone, and so responsibility also lies with individuals. The key to this guidance is recognizing that feelings and comfort levels vary.
A few recommendations for employee interactions:
- Be mindful that your colleagues may not feel the same way you do about returning to campus. Some people will be eager to return, while others may be nervous and hesitant.
- Be respectful of others' feelings as you return and in your interactions with others.
- Reinforce and remind other Yellow Jackets and visitors of the requirements and guidelines, where they can access face coverings in the buildings, and to follow best practices to the extent you are comfortable.
- Be mindful of language when addressing social distancing. Using words like “us” or “we” in the request to distance may help keep the situation from escalating. For example, “Let’s put a little more space between us at this table.”
Please step away from others or leave any situation if you feel uncomfortable.
Building signage should also be clearly displayed to assist other students, faculty, and staff in following expectations in different scenarios.
If you are not comfortable speaking to any person directly, remove yourself from the situation and contact your supervisor and/or HR Business Partner/HR Director.
If the situation becomes a workplace dispute requiring conflict management, please work with your HR Business Partner/HR Director. You can also visit hr.gatech.edu/employee-relations/workplace-disputes for tips, recommended next steps, and resources.
How will the face covering mandate and social distancing requirements be enforced, and by whom? What about events that violate campus guidelines?
Each member of our community must take responsibility for their actions and adhere to the guidelines of the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as guidelines issued by the University System of Georgia and Georgia Tech, to protect themselves and others while helping to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Adherence to these new measures is vital, so the Institute has established new formal and informal processes and recommendations for incorporating accountability into safety guidelines.
Led by the Division of Student Life and the Office of the Provost, the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Student Educational and Response Team (GT CO-SERT) is a temporary collaborative team charged with reviewing reported questions and concerns related to students or student groups and adherence to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.
The CO-SERT team will review reported concerns or questions regarding students or student groups and Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, communicate with individuals or groups, and determine further response or referrals, as necessary. Its actions may include follow-up with campus community members; clarification of current guidance and campus expectations; additional information or educational efforts; and if necessary, referral to applicable campus resource or office to consider available enforcement processes. CO-SERT does not alter or supersede any existing campus enforcement processes; the team will be disbanded as circumstances related to Covid-19 dictate.
Note: Georgia Tech’s student code explicitly prohibits behavior that endangers any person(s), including self. Hosting on- or off-campus events of any size that do not allow for social distancing or don’t take precautionary measures, such as additional hand sanitation stations and disinfecting protocols, and required face coverings, will be considered violations of the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.
Questions and concerns from faculty, staff, and community members related to students and Covid-19 health and safety guidelines may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will masks be required for movement between classes and during campus operations where students or faculty and staff are outdoors but distancing is not possible?
Yes, face coverings are required outdoors if distancing requirements cannot consistently be met.
When giving a lecture from a podium which is a long distance from anyone else in class, may a faculty member or student temporarily remove a mask for improved audio quality?
Face coverings should not be removed for this purpose. Face covering use is in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing. University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where 6 feet of social distancing may not always be possible.
Is there a plan to increase testing availability and turnaround times on campus? Will students be required to report positive results to the university?
Testing is an important part of our health and safety strategy for the fall. Tests processed on Georgia Tech’s campus have a turn-around time of 24-48 hours. Results of testing done through Georgia Tech will be reported to Stamps Health Services. Faculty, staff, and students who are tested by non-Georgia Tech facilities are asked to report any positive result to Stamps using the Covid-19 Reporting Form.
Have we considered asking students to be tested before they return to campus? Is it feasible to require students to present a negative test result before returning to campus?
Georgia Tech is not taking this strategy at this time. It is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Georgia Department of Public Health. Instead, Georgia Tech is aiming to test students as they arrive, and then do regular surveillance testing of the student population.
Do we know the false positive and false negative rates of the Covid-19 tests that will be used at Georgia Tech?
False positive and false negative rates are dependent in part on the prevalence of disease in the population tested. Sensitivity and specificity are characteristics of the test itself. A test's sensitivity is its ability to correctly identify those who have a disease, and its specificity is its ability to correctly identify those without the disease. Once the Institute has reached a final decision about its testing strategy, whether it will be through a Georgia Tech research lab or a commercial vendor, more information about the sensitivity and specificity of the test will be available.
How do I notify Stamps Health Services of a positive Covid-19 test result I received from a non-Georgia Tech facility?
If you receive a positive Covid-19 test result from a family physician or other non-Georgia Tech facility, notify Stamps Health Center by filling out this form.
What happens if a student tests positive?
Please refer to the “If You Get Sick” section of the Student Guidebook for more information on reporting a positive test and to learn what steps to take, including good hygiene, social distancing, and quarantine or isolation, if necessary.
The Institute has also developed procedures, key decision points, and communication processes for faculty should a student in one of their classes fall ill or test positive with Covid-19.
How will faculty be notified if a student is missing class due to diagnosis with or exposure to Covid-19? What are faculty and staff obligations regarding privacy of this student health data? Should faculty ask the student for documentation of illness?
If a student needs to quarantine or self-isolate due to diagnosis with or exposure to Covid-19, the Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS) will inform their faculty members only that students are missing class for a legitimate reason. Faculty should avoid inferring the reason. Students may also inform faculty personally of their situation.
If a student informs a faculty or staff member that they are missing class due to a diagnosis of or exposure to Covid-19, faculty and staff should not share this information with others. If the student received a positive test result through a non-Georgia Tech facility, the student should report that information via the reporting form.
Faculty or staff members also should not inform or do contact tracing involving other class or office/unit members. All notification and contact tracing efforts will be handled by the Georgia Department of Public Health, with assistance from Stamps Health Services.
Faculty should not ask for documentation of Covid-19 or other illness. If necessary, faculty may follow existing procedures for requesting documentation from ODOS.
How will the course material covered during in-person meetings be made available to students who have to miss class due to illness or isolation/quarantine needs?
All centrally-scheduled classrooms have been equipped with microphones and web cameras to capture the podium activity (desktop, document camera, instructor video). These can be broadcast live as well as recorded and posted on Canvas and Kaltura.
Some students who are required to quarantine or self-isolate may feel completely well during this period, ill but able to work as usual, while others may be too ill to work until they recover.
Remote courses and remote class sessions during hybrid courses. Unless a student is too ill to work, instructors should allow them to complete work remotely.
In-person courses and in-person class sessions during hybrid courses. Students who are in isolation or quarantine will be unable to attend in-person course sessions.
We ask that instructors be lenient and understanding when setting work deadlines or expecting students to finish work, and allow them the opportunity to catch up with any work that they have missed while in quarantine or isolation. Students may also ask instructors in advance how they will handle this situation.
- If a student is able and the possibility exists, allow them to participate in the course remotely.
- Offer complementary work that parallels what they are missing in class.
- Allow them to make up some class work when they return.
- Consider making available any video recordings of classes or slides that have been used while the student was absent.
- Prepare some complementary asynchronous assignments that compensate for the student’s inability to participate in class sessions.
If a student or instructor in a class tests positive, will the entire class, including instructor, need to be quarantined? Will the class be remote during that time?
In classroom settings, the Institute will determine exposure risks on a case-by-case basis. School leadership will determine the best way to ensure instruction can continue if faculty members are sick. If the impacted course is using a residential spread or hybrid mode, alternatives may include utilizing other instructors or temporarily shifting to remote delivery.
For courses that request a temporary move to remote delivery, School Chairs or Associate Deans will serve as the unit point of contact.
What steps should the School Chair or Associate Dean follow?
- Consult with their faculty member to understand the concern and alignment with the guidance noted above.
- Contact Nisha Botchwey (cc: Michael Toney) to discuss temporary mode change requests.
What if a faculty or staff member becomes ill during the fall semester? What is the university’s guidance on continued class disruptions due to illness?
For faculty: During the Fall 2020 semester, some faculty members may be required to quarantine due to exposure or isolate due to a Covid-19 diagnosis. Some disruption to classes or services is inevitable, but Georgia Tech is making every effort to ensure continuity of operations. As is the case in any semester, faculty may cancel a class if they have an illness or emergency situation and cover any missed material at their own discretion. If an instructor needs to cancel a class, they should notify students as early as possible.
Faculty who are staying home due to symptoms should monitor their health closely and consult with their school chair to determine if remote instruction or substitute instruction is most appropriate for the course. If they need to cancel a class repeatedly, a backup will be supplied in the form of a temporary substitute instructor or asynchronous work. No course will be canceled after the first class has occurred.
Do I need to quarantine if I have been in contact with someone who has symptoms of Covid-19, but does not yet have test results? That "unknown" interval can be many days.
Yes, if you have been in close contact (defined as within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes, household contact, or close physical contact) with someone with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, you should quarantine until the person with symptoms gets tested and those test results are available.
What is the process for notifying faculty, staff, and students of an exposure to someone with Covid-19? How long will it take for a notification? Is the process confidential?
Contact tracing and notification programs are being built by our teams, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health. Through the program, Georgia Tech will make initial rapid notifications of close contacts in the Georgia Tech community based on information gathered from the individual who tests positive. A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for 15 or more minutes, anyone who had physical contact with the person, or anyone who was coughed or sneezed on by the person. The Georgia Department of Public Health will conduct contact tracing with support from Georgia Tech. The process is confidential, and the individual who tested positive will not be identified.
Tech has also begun using NOVID, an exposure notification app that will help students, staff, and faculty be anonymously notified if they have potentially been exposed to Covid-19. Use of the app is voluntary, and it is available at no cost. NOVID can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play Store. Georgia Tech community members should enter the community code "JACKETS" on the NOVID settings.
If a Georgia Tech community member is diagnosed with Covid-19, how far back into that individual’s past will contact tracers go when notifying people who might have been exposed?
The infectious period is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as two days before a positive test or onset of symptoms.
Does Georgia Tech need (Johns Hopkins University certified) contact tracers? If so, who should they contact?
Interested staff should contact Dr. Ben Holton in the Stamps Health Center.
How is the health data of students, faculty, and staff being used, housed, and protected?
All health data is kept in a password-protected file. Individual data from students, faculty, or staff is used to provide guidance to that individual regarding steps they should take to care for themselves and protect their contacts. Since Covid-19 is a reportable disease, individual data will also be shared with the Department of Public Health, as required by law, and used to assist with contact tracing efforts. Aggregate data will be used for quality monitoring, disease trends, and focusing mitigation and control measures.
The self-screening questions list symptoms that can often occur as a result of seasonal allergies, changes, or other milder ailments. Are we expected to isolate every time we experience symptoms?
If an individual is experiencing symptoms that could be Covid-19, they are expected to isolate until it is determined whether or not they have Covid-19. They should reach out to their primary care provider or, if a student, to Stamps Health Services, for guidance regarding their symptoms and whether or not they should get tested. Faculty who are staying home due to symptoms should monitor their health closely and consult with their school chair to determine if remote instruction or substitute instruction is most appropriate for the course. Staff members should consult with their supervisor or HR Business Partner.
What do we do if a student does not want to be tested, even if they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive? What about the contacts of a student who does not want to be tested?
If a student has close contact with someone who has tested positive, they need to quarantine for 14 days, whether they get tested or not. Contacts of the student who does not want to be tested do not need to quarantine unless the student who did not get tested develops symptoms.
If someone who is quarantining for 14 days because of exposure to Covid-19 receives a negative test result, can they end quarantine early?
If you receive a negative test result while quarantining because of exposure to Covid-19, you still need to quarantine the full 14 days.
What if a student, faculty, or staff member does not have the kind of living arrangement that allows them to self-quarantine after exposure?
Faculty and staff members who need to isolate or quarantine will need to make those arrangements.
If a student needs to isolate or quarantine, they should do so at their permanent residence if possible. If the student lives in on-campus housing and cannot return home, Georgia Tech will provide a space for the student to isolate, with access to meal delivery, until the student meets criteria for ending isolation. If the student lives in off-campus housing, the student will need to isolate in their off-campus residence. Stamps Health Services will regularly follow students in isolation or quarantine.
If a student quarantining or isolating in off-campus housing, how will they get meals? Will Georgia Tech be helping with that?
Students in off-campus housing will utilize their social support network to assist with food delivery during quarantine. Georgia Tech may assist on a case-by-case basis.
If Georgia Tech transitions to remote learning during the fall semester, will my residential or hybrid class be canceled?
No course will be canceled after the first class has occurred.
What is the trigger or decision point for Contingency Plan 3, moving to remote instruction for part of the semester?
Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we have prepared to move from one method of instruction and operations to the other as public health guidance and conditions dictate. We’ve developed plans that respond to multiple scenarios outlined by the University System of Georgia.
We are evaluating multiple contingency measures under the current plan. For example:
- Residential-spread and hybrid courses will be designed to move to remote delivery if necessary.
- Supervisors in every department across the Institute will have their own contingency plans in place that align with guidelines from USG, CDC, GDPH and the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force.
- All undergraduate projects that require on-campus resources will have a contingency plan in case on-campus research operations must be suspended.
- Additionally, Georgia Tech has developed an Institute-wide contingency plan for transitioning operations to remote delivery in cases of illness or in the event pandemic conditions worsen.
Is there a timeline to decide if we will be implementing the same format of services, classes and hybrid format in the spring?
At this time, the University System of Georgia has not stated any plans for the spring 2021 semester.