CLAS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

The University of Connecticut plans to reopen campus in fall 2020. The University is dedicated to working together with public health experts and our state to maintain a quality UConn educational experience while keeping our community healthy.

We in CLAS look forward to welcoming our new and returning students, faculty, and staff as we open our campuses this fall. Please see the UConn Reopening website below for detailed information for students, faculty, and staff.

 

View the Plan to Reopen UConn for Fall 2020

View the University's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates Page

View Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates for CLAS Undergraduate Students


Frequently Asked Questions for CLAS Faculty and Staff

Last updated: July 29, 2020

General Questions

Where should I send my questions?

The Dean’s Office staff will be available on campus or remotely as is feasible through the duration of this change in operations and will respond as soon as possible to your concerns.

Please send questions to the following addresses, where they will be directed to the appropriate staff member.

The CLAS senior staff (dean, associate deans, and service unit directors) meet regularly to discuss and make decisions about the many questions from faculty and staff. In most cases, questions will be answered in regular updates from the College via email and on this webpage.

Where do I report known or suspected cases of COVID-19 in UConn employees or students?

Human Resources has developed an initial set of questions and answers for employees, managers, and colleagues upon the presumption or confirmation of a case of COVID-19.

If faculty/staff have questions related to a potential student exposure, they can call either the Advice Nurse at (860) 486-4700 or the UConn Student Health and Wellness – Medical Care phone line at (860) 486-8987.

What group is in charge of decision-making for academic operations?

The Provost’s Fall 2020 Academic Planning Group is meeting weekly to plan and address campus issues. InCHIP has also produced a report titled “Building a Resilient University During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

My question is not answered below.

Please see the list of FAQs by Office on the Reopening UConn website to determine the best place to find your answer. If you cannot find the answer, please email clas@uconn.edu.

Campus Access and Approvals

Can staff and faculty return to their campus offices?

Any staff or faculty member who hasn’t been deemed essential by their supervisor or applied and been approved to resume research activities on campus through OVPR should continue to telecommute.

If a faculty or staff member believes that it has now become essential that they come to campus, permission may be granted for periodic visits only to perform specific tasks that can be performed nowhere else. Individuals will be required to log in and out of campus buildings. (See "How should I check in on campus?" below.)

Each unit is responsible for submitting a CLAS Campus Access Safety Plan before employees will be allowed to work in their offices.

The employee should fill out the Request for Campus Access form.  Their supervisor will then receive an email to review the form, add justification that the work on campus is essential at this time, and certify that the unit has a dedicated safety plan in place. Please contact the Dean’s Office if you have questions about this process. If a faculty or staff member’s presence would be useful, but not essential, to University operations, then permission to work on campus should not be granted. If you are unsure of whether your duties or those of someone who reports to you are essential, please contact the Dean’s Office. If you have concerns that safety protocols are not being followed or that someone is inappropriately being asked to work on campus, please also notify the Dean’s Office.

If an individual has been asked to return to campus but has concerns, they should first discuss the plan with their supervisor. If a mutually agreeable arrangement is not created, they should contact the Dean’s Office.

Who should be allowed and approved to return to campus?

The following information comes from UConn Human Resources. Please address specific questions about it to hr@uconn.edu.


The University continues its plans to de-densify the Storrs and regional campuses. If you are working from home now, you should continue to do so unless approved by the University to return to campus. If asked to return, you will receive at least two weeks’ notice prior to return to campus where possible.

Therefore, most employees are expected to telecommute through December 31, 2020 unless the primary duties of the job require them to be on campus full-time or on a significantly limited basis with manager approval and University authorization. The only faculty and staff (including post-doctoral scholars) that will be allowed on the campus will be the following categories of employees before, during, and after reentry:

  • Direct Contact with/Support for Students - defined as close professional contact with students within 6-ft for more than 15 minutes as a primary job function. For example, a classroom instructor in-front of students; residential life staff, certain academic functional assignments, staff providing continued window service; or a food/retail service professional. Even with these roles, where telecommuting or rotational programs can be supported, they should be.
  • Critical Infrastructure Support - defined as a role with or without direct student contact on a full time basis where all primary job functions cannot be done remotely, such as facility operations, police/fire, animal care and support. It does not include work that is “preferred” to be accomplished onsite or non-critical infrastructure work by an employee or manager or any such work that can continue to be done remotely in areas outside these critical infrastructure responsibilities.
  • Part-Time or Rotational Critical Support Functions often with No Direct Contact with/Support for Students – defined as roles that include some and limited critical administrative functions that cannot be done remotely, such as some financial, payroll, administrative and HR functions for a small number of hours per day for 1-2 days per week. It does not include work that is “preferred” to be onsite or non-critical infrastructure work by an employee or manager or any such work that can continue to be done remotely. Employees and those in this category should be less than 15% of a manager's staff.
  • Research Colleagues – research faculty and staff working in a lab approved for research reentry under the research ramp up process. Work that may be done remotely should continue to be done so. All sponsored program supported personnel must be working on the aims of the grant as pay for no work expired at the end of June. Any situations where an employee is unable to work in the lab and who cannot telecommute should be noted. In this event, additional information will be forthcoming.

Note: We recognize that some individuals who fall within these categories are already on our campuses; if so, if they have not already been provided a University provided COVID test, one will be made available to them by the University. Undergraduate students and graduate assistants will be tested using the student strategies that will be communicated by Student Health and Wellness.

It will be important and required that all managers and employees adhere to these registry categories of employees approved to be on campus – adherence will be essential to limit transmission, ensure the capability of social distancing, for contract tracing efforts and for contact notification and other important impacts. Any cases of failure to approve by a manager or onsite visits by an employee to campuses for work outside of these requirements will be swiftly addressed by Divisional leaders and the University.

If I have already completed a CLAS Re-Entry Form, do I need to complete a Provost’s Re-Entry Form?

No, the CLAS Re-Entry Form suffices.

Where do I access COVID-19 trainings?

Faculty and staff must all complete a COVID-19 safety training before returning to campus; learn more on the Environmental Health and Safety website.

How should I check in on campus?

Employees must track their presence on campus. Faculty, staff, and graduate may use the online UConn Location Log application to check in and check out of campus buildings and room numbers. This application feeds directly into the University’s contact tracing database and will not be used for time reporting. All users can download a complete record of their location data from the app at any time.

Units, offices, and individuals may use the app to print a QR code for their frequently accessed spaces. These codes can be posted in offices, laboratories, or studio spaces, but not outside buildings or in public spaces.

Departments should continue to make available virtual or paper sign-in sheets for anyone not using the app.

 

How do we stay safe on campus?

If an employee is approved by the College to come to campus, they should complete Re-Entry Training from the Division of Public Safety.

All individuals on campus must have been approved to come to campus either through OVPR or CLAS and adhere to all safety and health guidelines. Masks and sanitizers can be requested by any faculty or staff member who has been approved to come to campus through the UConn Warehouse. Disinfectant can also be requested but is currently reserved for approved research.

For broader needs, including laboratory and department office cleaning, staff and faculty should use approved University vendors to procure these supplies. Employees may contact Amy Allen in Supply Chain Management on the best and current places to procure what they need. If you have a complicating condition, please contact HR to obtain a specialized mask.

COVID-19 Testing Protocols

What are the guidelines for being tested upon returning to campus?

Faculty or staff who are approved to come to campus with any regularity, including a few hours per month, should be tested. Please see the University’s guidelines on COVID-19 testing for employees.

Do graduate students need to be tested before taking classes on campus or serving as TAs?

Yes, any student graduate or undergraduate taking an in-person course, as well as any instructor (TA, faculty, adjunct) teaching in-person, needs to be tested.

If a faculty member has had COVID-19 and plans to return to work, do they need to be tested again?

Yes.

Does a faculty member who is not teaching students and not working in the office, but simply dropping in irregularly to pick up materials, books, or mail, need to be tested?

No. However, they should keep their visits to campus to a minimum and should fill out a CLAS campus access request form for contact tracing purposes.

Environmental Health and Safety

Who is responsible for supplying hand sanitizer to departments?

Facilities Operations are making hand sanitizer dispensers available at entrances for all buildings, classrooms, and dining halls. For a limited time, essential employees and researchers approved by OVPR can also request one personal bottle of hand sanitizer using the form on the Facilities Operations site.

Will disposable wipes be provided for cleaning surfaces?

Facilities Operations will provide disposable wipes outside of every classroom for students and faculty to disinfect between classes per state guidance. The University of Connecticut will provide disinfectant products near commonly used surfaces where possible. Departments can order cleaning supplies through the Facilities Operations website.

How do I get a face covering?

Cloth face masks are being distributed to CLAS units from the Provost’s Office. To obtain a mask, please contact your unit office.

I have questions about disinfectant, face coverings, hand sanitizer, plexiglass, signage, or other facilities operations that are not answered here.

Here is a list of commonly-requested COVID-19 information and resources from Facilities Operations, including obtaining face coverings, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, plexiglass installations, and signage.

Remote Work

What technology should I use to work from home?

Staff and faculty with University-issued laptops should take them home and use these devices on their home wifi network.

Staff and faculty who do not have access to laptops may work on University matters from their personal computers. We strongly advise setting up remote access into each individual’s work computer to minimize risks to personal information. All University email business should be conducted using your UConn email address.

  • Borrowing Equipment: CLAS has a limited number of computers to loan to staff and faculty. Unit leaders can request computers for faculty or staff members by contacting clasit@uconn.edu. The CLAS Dean’s Office is prioritizing these loans based on critical college functions.
  • Virtual meetings: All faculty, students, and staff with a NetID have their own Personal WebEx Room. Additionally, CLAS IT has created several “Virtual Rooms” that can be used for interviews and committee meetings.
  • WebEx Rooms - You can find detailed information about WebEx at the ITS Knowledge Base (WebEx). To get started with hosting a meeting using your Personal Room, please see the ITS Knowledge Base instructions for hosting a WebEx meeting.
  • CLAS Virtual Rooms - To schedule a meeting in the CLAS Virtual Rooms for job candidate interviews or remote participants, please email clasit@uconn.edu and CLAS IT will coordinate with you, including scheduling a time to test the system with your candidate or remote participant.
  • Connecting to your work computer remotely: Using the University’s remote desktop capability might be an ideal solution for connecting to your desktop computer while working from home. Please contact clasit@uconn.edu if you need assistance setting this up.

For more information and resources related to working from home, visit the UConn ITS Remote Work website.

Additional training videos from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Departmental Activities

Are we expected to keep normal business hours when we are working remotely?

To the extent that remote meetings and business calls will continue to occur, employees should expect to be available during their normal working hours. Supervisors and department heads should, however, be flexible when possible about extenuating circumstances such as childcare, elder care, and other issues surrounding this public health crisis. If an employee needs to adjust their hours, they should inform their supervisor and determine a mutually agreeable plan.

What should we do about undergraduate student employees?

If student workers can work remotely, they should. They should record hours and submit timecards as usual. Supervisors and students should work out a mutually agreeable work schedule while the student is away from campus. In the event that students cannot perform their usual work remotely, faculty and staff should work to find reasonable alternative work that is agreeable to the student.

Can faculty extend their tenure clock?

Faculty holding tenure-track appointments are offered a one-year extension to the tenure clock. This extension shall apply to tenure-track faculty members who were employed by the University on March 1, 2020, and whose tenure case is scheduled to be reviewed in the 2020-2021 academic year or later. Faculty members shall receive only one tenure clock extension between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, regardless of the reason(s) for which a faculty member may qualify for an extension. More information can be found on the Provost’s Office FAQ document on tenure clock extensions.

Please fill out the Provost’s Office tenure clock extension form and send it to clas@uconn.edu to request this extension.

Research and Graduate Students

When can I return to my on-campus research?

The Office of the Vice President for Research began a phased reopening of UConn and UConn Health research programs on May 20 (Phase 2 in the posted “Ramp-Up: Phased Process for Reopening Research at UConn and UConn Health”). It includes guiding principles and processes for a transparent, phased approach to reopening research while addressing state and federal directives and guidelines. To view the full document and Phases 0 through 4 of the reopening process, visit the OVPR's COVID-19 Resource page.

Requests for resuming on-campus laboratory and field research will be reviewed and approved contingent upon meeting conditions described below.

Researchers who already had approval under the Pilot Data/Limited Activity phase do not need to resubmit new materials. They should email cri@uconn.edu to confirm they will continue to use their approved COVID-19 Safety Plan for the reopening of research. Researchers who were approved under the Critical Research Infrastructure phase need to resubmit the above forms to resume research activity.

Research programs cannot return to campus until they obtain written OVPR approval. Please follow the instructions an requests forms available on the OVPR website to request a return to campus. 

Can I submit grants during this time?

Yes. All CLAS grant management services should be available, although there may be some additional response time needed if personnel are unavailable due to illness or quarantines.

I am currently on sabbatical or have one planned for next year. What should I do?

You may postpone a sabbatical that is planned for fall 2020 and/or spring 2021. There are two types of modification reasons:

  1. faculty member request, or
  2. administrative postponement.

If an approved sabbatical leave is administratively postponed, the faculty member will be eligible for his/her next sabbatical in the period it would have fallen if there had been no such postponement. Administrative postponements will be considered on a case by case basis depending on the degree of impact COVID-19 has on the faculty member’s research or scholarship plans. Approval for prior administrative appointments will not affect this process; the determination will be made based on the degree to which COVID-19 affects the plans for research/scholarship.

Teaching

What are the modalities of teaching for fall 2020?

Teaching and learning will take one of several different forms in fall 2020. These modalities are listed in the Provost’s message to the academic community on Instructional Scenarios for Fall (2020-06-11). All classes following Thanksgiving break will be delivered online.

Where can I find remote and online teaching support? 

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has collected an array of resources to help you get started teaching online. For more information about their services, please visit the CETL Keep Teaching page. We also recommend that instructors also take full advantage of the tools for online instruction included in HuskyCT. Please refer to the Technology section on this page to learn about virtual WebEx rooms.

Here is a partial list of resources relevant to CLAS faculty and staff for online instruction:

General online instruction resources

UConn CETL guides for navigating HuskyCT

Assignments

    Quizzes and exams

        Online laboratory courses

        Below are four options for moving lab classes online, created by a working group at Michigan State University (shared with their permission). Possible differences in outcomes are described in the final column.

        Traditional form Modified form Main Differences
        Option 1:
        simulation
        Students are developing an understanding of the nature of science and science practices. Specific content or skills are not required. Find a set of digital activities that help students to hone science practices although they may not address specific topics or themes, the digital experiences may still sharpen student science practices (e.g. PhET models or MERLOT or Netlogo)

        Provide a question for testing these simulations, scaffold as needed to focus on desired aspect of experimental process, and have students design an experiment.

        Students obtain an understanding of science practices, but the experience may be more disjointed and not aligned with the specific discipline or case studies.
        Option 2:
        analysis & communication
        Students collect data from various practices they have carried out and they then analyze the data and develop communication materials. Students use the data that they have already collected or that can be supplied to them, and then continue on with the analysis and communication strategies.  This work might take advantage of Excel, R programming, or Powerpoint to have students manipulate data and communicate interpretation. Students may not collect all of the data that they normally would, but they go through the majority of skills and knowledge.
        Option 3:
        demonstration
        Students explore broadly within a discipline and do demonstration-like labs. The faculty member creates a video demo of the experience and students do readings and quizzes to make sure they understand the concepts.  If physical models or examples are able to be done with everyday items, students could also perform the experiments at home. Students do not get the physical muscle memory capabilities of doing the experiments, but gain the basic understanding of how the demonstrations tie into their learning.
        Option 4:
        independent study
        Students develop their own question to ask, similar to an independent study. Students find applicable locations and resources to ask their questions.  For example, in an ecology course, they find a natural site to run experiments, for chemistry courses can they answer with common products and kitchen.  Alternatively, in small classes, they could dictate the tests to be run, course staff run the experiments and give them data. Students can go through the scientific practices but lack the ability to ask specific questions and gain specific skills using equipment.  The alternative above would allow them to ask any questions but not have the equipment experience.

        More laboratory resources (collected by Michigan State University working group)

        Additional resources on instructional design from Arizona State University

        What is status of undergraduates coming to research laboratories and studios?

        The Office of the Provost has issued guidance about undergraduate research and creative activity for the fall semester, including associated undergraduate research and independent study courses. The guidance seeks to prioritize the safety of the campus community, limit gatherings and density on campus wherever possible, and support the agency of our faculty, staff, and students in making choices about the degree to which they will be engaged in on-campus activities.

        Guidance for fall undergraduate research and creative activity:

        • Training. All undergraduates who will be involved in research and/or enrolled in experiential learning credit (e.g., internship, undergraduate research, thesis, independent study) must complete the online COVID-19 safety training.  There are two options for completing the online training and either training is acceptable: “Returning to Research Training Course ” OR Returning to Campus Training Course” Students only need to complete one of the trainings even if they are engaged in multiple research or experiential learning opportunities. Students must provide email confirmation that they have completed the training to their research mentor/supervisor/faculty advisor.  As always, research mentors/supervisors are responsible for ensuring their undergraduate researchers have completed the EHS, human subjects, and/or animal use training relevant to the research in which they are involved.
        • Safety Plans. Undergraduates involved in laboratory and/or human subjects research should review, sign, and follow their mentor’s OVPR-approved COVID-19 Safety Plan. The responsible faculty member/principal investigator is responsible for ensuring undergraduates’ compliance with all facets of the approved Safety Plan.
        • Remote as Default. Wherever possible, research (including research with associated course credit or student employment) and related activities should be completed remotely in furtherance of the goal of limiting gatherings and density. This includes activities such as lab/research group meetings and 1:1 meetings. Consider remote activity the default and reserve in-person/in-lab/in-studio time for activities that can only be accomplished with the equipment and materials in those spaces.
        • Course Modality. If a student is enrolled in course credits based on their involvement in research, independent study, or creative activity this fall, ensure that the course’s modality accurately reflects the modality of the student’s planned involvement. Modality changes to these courses should be made promptly so students’ enrollment reflects how all their fall courses will be delivered.

        Faculty are encouraged to contact the Office of the Vice President for Research (ovpr@uconn.edu) or the Office of Undergraduate Research (our@uconn.edu) with any questions.

        Visit the Office of the Provost website to view the full Guidance for Fall Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (2020-07-31).

        Travel

        I have travel questions. Where should I go?

        At this time, travel questions are difficult to answer. Please email your questions to clas@uconn.edu. We will find out as much as we can and share information when we have it. Many conferences that have been canceled are offering reimbursements of registration fees. If you cannot get reimbursed by your airline, conference, or hotel directly, CLAS will look into the possibility of reimbursement.

        My graduate students have travel questions. Where should they go?

        Please direct all graduate student travel questions to the Graduate School at gradschool@uconn.edu.

        Can I charge grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 to an external research grant?

        For NIH-funded projects, non-refundable costs associated with grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to the award if they would have otherwise been allowable. Visit the NIH Grants Policy Statement website for detailed information on the allowability of travel expenses. If you have questions about funding for other cancelled travel, please send your question to clas@uconn.edu