What to do if there are distruptions to your in-person course this year

January 27, 2022

We know COVID-19 will continue to circulate in the broader community and will need to be managed for years to come. This article provides some guidance and ideas (many from your colleagues) for what you can do as an instructor to manage during this time. And, as always, thank you for your amazing teaching efforts for the past two years!

Some reminders: Planning for potential course interruptions

  • Hopefully you’ve followed earlier advice and built flexibility into your syllabus so you can miss a class or two if you are too sick to teach, and still meet educational goals.
  • If appropriate for your discipline, consider finding a colleague who can teach a lecture in your place and vice versa.
  • Consider whether there are ways to structure your course to increase flexibility if you, your teaching assistants (TAs), or your students become ill and miss class, without adding extra work. See below for some ideas.

If you are sick

  • Stay home, rest, get better.
  • We know the time available for instruction is limited and you’ve planned your syllabus carefully, but it’s OK to cancel a class or two if you are ill, just as it’s always been.
  • If you need to self-isolate but are well enough to teach remotely, thank you for doing so! However, teaching while sick is not an expectation.
  • If you are sick for longer, follow SFU sick leave policies. You can find more information for faculty here.
  • Follow the latest advice from the BCCDC on how to manage if you have COVID-19, including self-isolation guidelines found here.

If you or your colleagues need help coping

  • SFU has a number of mental health resources for faculty and staff. Visit the Human Resources website for more information.
  • If you personally would like extra support, please feel free to connect with our Wellness & Recovery team via email at rtwdm@sfu.ca or contact our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, Homewood Health.

If your students are sick

  • Have a plan for students who can’t be there in person due to short-term illness without creating more work for yourself and your TAs. This may include dropping an assignment rather than giving a make-up, for instance.
  • There is no expectation that you will teach in “dual mode”; that is, with students both in-person and remote.
  • You are not required to meet every request for concessions students make, but rather to have a plan in advance for how to address missed classes.
  • If you can do so, recording and/or posting lectures may be useful, as it allows students who are unwell to keep up with course work.
  • Other tactics you might consider: multiple optional assignments, no mandatory attendance requirements, asking students to have buddy systems to share notes, and creating flexibility in assignment completion and evaluation.
  • Contact the Centre for Educational Excellence if you need support.
  • Keep in mind our process around academic concessions, as this was developed specifically for unexpected situations.

If your students need help with supports and resources

And remember …

  • Vaccination remains the single most important thing all of us can do to protect ourselves. Due to our mandatory vaccine declaration process, we know SFU has a strong 97 per cent vaccination rate. Good job, everyone!
  • Use all our layers of protection to limit the spread on our campuses.