Faculty FAQs – Fall 2020

Preparing for Exams

Faculty choosing this option must use the existing class day/time to administer the exam, as changes to this schedule may create conflicts for students. Faculty who plan to also offer final exams in addition to a major exam before Thanksgiving break are also asked to not change the day or time of the final exam. Please see the Registrar’s Schedule for Final Exams.

The university has a number of tools available through Canvas. These include Respondus Lockdown Browser, which locks the computer screen so students cannot look at other sites during the exam, and Respondus Monitor, which records students during an exam.

Many students have serious concerns about the lack of reliability of their internet connections and the impact of losing their connection during a proctored exam. Students, especially those who have children at home, have also reported feeling challenged to find a quiet space and uninterrupted time. We encourage you to consider no-tech or low-tech exams and avoid introducing new technology tools for major exams.

Some tools, such as Respondus Monitor, require a webcam, which some students do not have on their devices. Students without webcams can convert their smartphone cameras to webcams using the following links:
For Androids: https://www.digitalcitizen.life/turn-android-smartphone-webcam-windows
For iPhones: https://www.digitalcitizen.life/how-turn-iphone-ipad-webcam-windows-pc

Students will need to download both the application on their phone and the driver for their computer (Mac or Windows). For best results, students should plug their phones into their computers with a USB cable.

  • Encourage students to identify a location where they can take the exam, preferably with access to a wired connection.
  • UTA computer labs will be open and offer social distancing. Faculty should add instructions to the exam stating that if the student will be testing in a computer lab, a mask should be worn throughout the entire testing process, including during the pre-exam sequence.
  • To further reduce the likelihood of issues, faculty should uncheck the box in the Monitor settings: “prevent students from starting the exam if face cannot be detected during Startup Sequence.”
  • If Respondus tools have not yet been used in the course, create a short practice exam requiring Lockdown Browser and Monitor so that students may test their systems and become familiar with the process. A brief tutorial is available for you to share.
  • Encourage students to access review sessions and tutoring help by logging into the UTA Tutoring site, accessing the online tutoring by disciplinary area through the IDEAS Center, and considering offering extra credit or other incentives for students who access these services.

Communicating Health and Safety Protocols, Practices and Concerns

UTA is communicating health and safety protocols and expectations to incoming students through orientation and will continue to communicate with all students regularly throughout the semester. This is a shared responsibility for all of us to remind our community to follow the procedures. UTA’s mandatory COVID19 Return to Campus Training for faculty and staff is online at uta.edu/enews/email/2020/06-30-repopulation-training.html

All faculty, staff and students are expected to conduct daily symptom monitoring, If you experience any of the following symptoms that are new, worsening, or occurring in a way that is not normal for any chronic conditions, you should not come to campus.

Symptom Checklist

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Feverishness, or a temperature greater than or equal to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit

If an employee experiences any symptoms, they should take immediate precautions to avoid possible virus transmission to others and contact their immediate supervisor.

On-campus testing will be focused on students showing COVID-19 symptoms and will be based on testing strategies implemented in accordance with public health and medical guidance.

Employees seeking testing should contact their health care provider or local health department.

UTA is not associated with a medical school and cannot offer testing services to faculty and staff. Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact their health provider to report symptoms or request testing. Faculty and staff may also contact the Tarrant County Public Health hotline at 817-321-5939 (or dial 211 for resources in other areas).

The University will coordinate contact tracing with local health authorities and the Texas Department of State Health Services. Contact tracing for those who test positive for COVID-19 will be led as instructed by local public health officials. In the event state and local public health officials are unable to provide timely contact tracing, the University will work to identify and facilitate quarantine of campus contacts of infected campus community members.

As we continue to learn from and adapt to the pandemic, we will remain nimble and adjust as necessary. The decision to move more courses online may occur if:

  • Local, state, or federal public health authority declares a public health emergency for a second or third wave;
  • Texas’ Governor issues a stay-at-home executive order; or
  • University’s COVID-19 positive cases are at a level that threaten the public health and safety of the University and the community. This decision will be made in collaboration with local public health officials and UT System.

UTA has a task force in place that is developing plans to respond to a variety of scenarios, including the possibility of transitioning to a largely online teaching and learning environment if necessary.

Student discloses to the instructor that accommodations are needed due to positive COVID testing or close contact to someone who is positive (quarantine). If they've tested positive, the student must fill out a diagnosis form, or if they were within six feet for longer than 10 minutes with someone with a positive diagnosis, a contact form.

UTA Health Services then contacts the student once the form is submitted and if appropriate, provides a letter saying accommodations are needed. UTA Health Services also commences contact tracing.

The student presents the letter of accommodation to the instructor.

Course Planning and Organization

The Classroom Allocation subgroup is working to find and allocate space based on the data submitted by colleges on June 15. Faculty with larger classes are asked to consider fully online courses, or if needing some face-to-face activities hybrid courses. Hybrid courses can be organized so that students rotate through the course-for example, in a class of 60 that meets twice per week, 30 students attend on Tuesday face to face, and the other 30 can watch online or complete other assignments off campus. On Thursday, the other 30 students attend face to face class, and the remaining complete the online assignment. Faculty can determine the type of modality to use in collaboration with their department chair.

There is no specific formula. For hybrid courses, faculty can determine the amount of time that is on-campus versus the amount of time the course meets online, view recorded lecture material, or in which students complete online assignments.

Faculty are encouraged to post their initial syllabus sharing the type of modality for the course, days of the week it will meet if using a hybrid modality, and technology expectations (webcam, if using Teams, Canvas Studio, etc.) as soon as possible. Syllabi must be posted on Canvas for students to access and can be updated before the start of fall classes for migration to Digital Measures.

Students that have health concerns or are not comfortable returning for in-person classes in Fall, do have the option of enrolling in all online classes. Faculty are encouraged to live-stream or record their lectures or other course materials to accommodate these students. Students are being reminded that not all classes will be available in an online format, so they will need to assess how their choices impact their path to graduation. We encourage students to discuss any such plans with their advisor.

Support for Teaching

On-Campus Teaching

To ensure the University community is safe, the following are just a few of the measures implemented for your safety and well-being:

  • The Office of Facilities Management will increase cleaning frequencies, and modify cleaning schedules to meet the needs of the campus community;
  • Campus departments are encouraged to clean common touchpoints (copiers, printers, coffee makers) within their office/work area throughout each day;
  • All drinking fountains and refilling stations will be turned off and faculty, staff and students are encouraged to bring their own water to further reduce the spread of the virus;
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at many entrances, common areas, and offices across campus, and cleaning supplies in classrooms for students' use;
  • Certain student seats/desks and rows will not be used in lecture halls and classrooms to ensure social distancing guidelines are met;
  • Continue virtual meetings instead of face-to-face meetings;
  • Minimize the use of other workers' phones, devices, tools and equipment; disinfect before and after each use;
  • Building air systems programmed for 100% outside air (no recirculated air);
  • Signage installed throughout campus as reminders for social distancing, wearing mask/face covering, and proper hygiene, and
  • Plexi-glass screen/partitions installed to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading.

Don't forget about your own personal devices (cell phones). Avoid touching them after you have touched common surfaces, and clean often.

Campus Facilities

Custodial staff will clean all common areas frequently and throughout the day with a disinfecting team member assigned throughout each building on campus. The Office of Facilities Management is asking each department to assist with cleaning individual offices, conference rooms, kitchens/breakrooms, copy rooms, etc. (Custodial staff will not clean individual desks.)

On campus, the use of plexiglass screens will be reserved for transactional locations, where the potential of having visitors from outside the department exists, only. If your work area falls under the transactional location description, you may request a desk shield by submitting an online request form or call 817-272-2000. Upon approval, you will be contacted to schedule a pick-up time at the Facilities Management, Central Supply Store located at 445 Spaniolo Dr. Larger desk shields or multiple requests per department will be scheduled for delivery. Review the varieties of desk shields and sizes.

For general workplace environments, where staff and faculty work adjacent to each other, the Office of Facilities Management encourages employees to follow CDC recommended social distancing, face coverings and hand washing. In some cases, social distancing will require each department to implement its own operational solutions including staggering office hours, working from home or re-assigning work locations. 

Classrooms will be equipped with disinfectant wipes for students and instructors to wipe down their seating areas prior to each class.  Classrooms will be sterilized during the night-time cleaning.

UTA is following guidelines recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers to help address concerns related to COVID-19. Those include:

  • Increasing the use of outdoor air in ventilation systems wherever possible. This proportionally reduces the amount of recirculated air.
  • Ensuring that ventilation systems in labs use 100% outside air and do not recirculate air to other spaces.
  • Using the highest compatible Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value filters in existing ventilation units.
  • Keeping ventilation systems running longer to remove contaminants in the air.

Learn more about the building ventilation.

Requiring Face Coverings

We all have a shared responsibility to remind others of UTA’s health and safety protocols. If someone is not in compliance, you can politely remind them of UTA policy to wear face coverings when inside campus buildings and maintain social distancing. Faculty or staff who refuse to comply will be reported to Human Resources. Students who refuse to comply will be reported to the Office of Community Standards.

Through UTA’s Environmental Health and Safety Department, reusable, washable fabric face masks are available for UTA departments and disposable, three-ply, pleated, ear-loop face masks are available for research groups. Research groups can request disposable face masks from EH&S using the Face Mask Request Form linked at uta.edu/announcements/coronavirus/campus-updates/face-covering-protocol

If faculty, staff, students or visitors do not have or forgot to bring their face covering to campus, reusable, washable fabric face masks for individuals are available at Central Library and the information desk at the University Center.

It is expected that all comply with this policy. Students who have a condition that precludes the wearing of a face covering should follow the procedures for obtaining an accommodation by working with the Office of Students with Disabilities. Faculty and staff who have a condition that precludes wearing a face covering should work with their immediate supervisor and the Office of Human Resources for an accommodation.

Members of our campus community are empowered to respectfully inform others about the policy in an ongoing effort to enhance awareness and encourage a culture of compliance. An individual who feels that there has been a violation of this procedure may invoke the following actions:

  1. The individual should attempt to resolve the problem informally by respectfully requesting that the individual comply with the procedure.
  2. If direct appeal fails the individual may be asked to leave the building, office, classroom, or event immediately.
  3. If the behavior persists, the individual should be reported to their immediate supervisor first. If the supervisor is not available or unable to assist, faculty should be referred to Faculty Affairs and staff to the Office of Human Resources. Students should be referred to the Office of Community Standards.
  4. Members of our campus community should not contact the University Police Department as UTA PD will not be responsible for the enforcement of the mask/face covering policy.
  5. Repeat offenses by the same person shall be handled through already established administrative/disciplinary policies and procedures. Violations may result in disciplinary action.

Student Access to Technology

Faculty can list the course technology requirements in the class syllabus and can include hardware and online proctoring tools. UTA uses Respondus Lockdown and Unicheck to support academic integrity. Both tools are available through Canvas.

The Office of Community Standards has prepared the Faculty Academic Integrity Guide for Online Learning to support instructors. Find more information on faculty resources for academic integrity, as well as information on how to report an alleged violation.

Academic Support

Faculty can determine the modality for offering office hours in consultation with their department chair and/or dean. Departments may choose to designate a conference room or other larger space that can be reserved by faculty or others to have one-on-one meetings, such as office hours.

UTA Libraries plans to begin curbside/front desk pick-up of the circulating print collection starting July 6th. Faculty and students will be able to request materials via the Hold system in the library catalog. They expect to rollout a campus-wide announcement about this once they finalize details.

OIT operates several computer labs which have instituted cleaning and social distancing protocols. Faculty can reserve space by going to oit.uta.edu/utaremote. Plans are also underway to reserve large spaces for face-to-face exams before the Thanksgiving break. Departments may need to provide their own proctors and staff to ensure that UTA cleaning and social distancing protocols are followed.

Research and Labs

Faculty and student researchers should continue to work remotely to the extent possible for activities such as literature reviews, data analysis and writing and continue to meet remotely (e.g., using Teams) even for meetings with only two (2) people. When on-campus research activity is necessary, refer to the UTA Research Coronavirus Updates page for further direction and guidance on operating laboratories within social distancing guidelines.