Guidance for Faculty and Instructors: Enforcement of Face Coverings and Social Distancing Policies For Fall 2020
When we return to campus from working remotely, we’ll bring with us new perspectives and anxieties about being together again. It can be stressful to work through these feelings while adapting to new university policies, such as wearing a mask or cloth face covering and maintaining a six-foot minimum social distance from others at all times.
Here are some suggestions for navigating challenging classroom interactions with patience, respect, and an open mind. Guidance on enforcement and de-escalation is featured in this UNLV video. We also have a video that illustrates the new campus norms.
Take initiative to prevent conflict
If you are a faculty member teaching in the classroom, and you have a student in your class who is not wearing a mask or observing safe social distancing of six feet from others, please take the initiative to speak with that student about coming into compliance. You will find additional information on how to effectively navigate these situations below.
Acknowledging and managing your emotions will help you remain calm and defuse situations effectively. In doing so, keep in mind that listening and empathy are key to de-escalating a tense situation.
Facing difficult situations in the faculty-student environment
When interacting with students, faculty members are uniquely positioned to set the tone and expectations in the classroom. When facing a tough situation, do not allow yourself to get pulled into debates. Here are some suggestions for how to do this.
First, establish your expectation on Day 1 of class that students will communicate with each other and with you respectfully and professionally.
Public Health Directives
Second, don’t take the bait.
Third, if you are in the classroom and the discussion continues to escalate to the point where you need to ask a student to leave, consider the following:
Fourth, consider a remote one-on-one meeting with the student if you think it may help defuse the situation.
A student who for a second time during the course fails to comply with the requirement to wear face covering or maintain social distancing may be administratively withdrawn from the course, per the Public Health Directives listed above and included in the course syllabus. Administrative withdrawals must be approved by the department chair and dean. Being withdrawn from the class may negatively impact the student’s financial aid, as well as academic progression.
We are living in difficult and strange times. Thank you for leaning into the challenges we are facing, and for contributing to ensuring a healthy and safe campus. We will continue working together to have a successful academic year.
Chris Heavey, Ph.D.