Dear Fall 2021 Instructors of Record,
When I last emailed you on May 20, I encouraged you to plan for an in-person fall semester but to remain vigilant and to have continuity plans ready for managing any disruptions that might occur as we entered the new academic year. I am writing today to remind you that continuity planning remains critically important as we consider how COVID-19 may continue to affect our campus community.
Because rates of vaccination on our campus appear to be quite high based on surveys of our community, and because we have a rigorous testing program and community standards in place for the fall semester, Chancellor Woodson and I, along with other campus leaders, continue to believe that we can proceed with our plans to have a largely in-person fall semester. That said, we also know that the pandemic is not over and we must remain prepared for disruptions.
Please see a few updates below about the fall semester and reminders of some of the resources available to you.
Face coverings are again required in all indoor spaces on campus. As Chancellor Woodson shared in his July 30 update, on Monday, Aug. 2, face coverings became required in all indoor spaces on campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, unless:
- You are alone in a private, enclosed residence hall room, apartment or office with the door closed.
- You are in an enclosed indoor space when only household members are present.
- You are actively eating or drinking.
Students, faculty, staff or visitors not able to wear a face covering because of a documented disability, medical condition or sincerely held religious belief may make a request for a reasonable modification. If you have questions about student requirements and sanctions for violating community standards, including wearing face coverings, visit the Office of Student Conduct COVID-19 page.
Academic continuity plans are strongly recommended. It will be important for you to have a plan in place for students who become ill during the semester or who are required to quarantine or isolate because of an exposure, and you may also want to have a similar plan for managing your classes in the short term if you become ill or must quarantine. Many of you will be able to rely on approaches you’ve used successfully over the past several semesters to maintain continuity.
At this time, there are no plans to move in-person classes online. I encourage you to work closely with your department to support the continuity of face-to-face instruction. NC State is committed to doing all we can to help ensure a positive, engaging and safe on-campus experience for our students, faculty and staff.
NC State continues to provide instructional support through several offices and units on campus. Many available resources are compiled on the university’s Keep Teaching website. In addition, various workshops and individual consultations to support all aspects of your teaching are available through the Office for Faculty Excellence. Similarly, DELTA offers workshops and consultations in addition to supporting classroom capture and other learning technologies. The NC State Libraries team offers a variety of teaching support services as well as lending technology devices to those who may need them. And our institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity offers many webinars and workshops to support your teaching and general productivity throughout the semester.
Take care of yourself, your colleagues, and your students. After 17 months of being challenged to respond quickly and creatively to the rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic, I know many of you are tired and feeling frustrated, as are our students, as we enter a new semester. I want to encourage you to pay attention to your own mental health needs and seek support when you need it, either with your personal social network, with a medical or mental health provider, or with our Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. Similarly, you may encounter students who are struggling. Many resources are available for students through DASA, DASA’s Keep Learning website, and the Counseling Center, and I hope you will encourage them to reach out to those resources and for support as they need it.
Please check the Protect the Pack website for updates. As we move into the fall, we will continue to keep a close watch on the pandemic and any changes in policy or guidance from the CDC, the State of North Carolina or the UNC System, and we will be adjusting campus practices as appropriate. Please regularly visit the Protect the Pack website for the most up-to-date information.
For me, and likely for most of you, this has been one of the most difficult periods for academia in recent memory. I remain extremely grateful for your skill, dedication to teaching and compassion for others. Thank you for continuing to work together in support of the NC State community.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost