Information and Guidance for Fall 2021 Course Syllabi
Dr. Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs | August 11, 2021
As we quickly approach the fall 2021 semester and prepare for a return to in-person classes, services, and activities, the following message provides guidance on recent questions about course syllabi and implementation, including the university’s measures for health, wellness, and safety, office hours, instruction modes, student absences, and other areas. I am aware of concerns raised by some members of the university community about the Delta variant of COVID-19 and recognize the genuine worries and concerns. As President Trauth stated yesterday, President’s Cabinet meets weekly with our Chief Medical Officer to review the latest data on vaccination rates and COVID-19 case counts, to assess the effectiveness of current protocols, and to make adjustments. As the situation evolves, we will communicate with you and update the Texas State Roadmap.
This message also provides information about the university’s mission and shared values, emergency management, and the reporting responsibility of faculty and staff who learn of sexual misconduct. Extensive information on course syllabi and classroom procedures is found in AA/PPS 02.03.01, Conduct and Planning of Courses. Please pass this message along to new faculty and teaching assistants, as new hire transactions occur daily.
Health, Wellness, and Safety
Considering rising infection rates and recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Texas State is requesting all members of the university community to take these five additional steps:
- Get tested. Regardless of vaccination status, get tested before the start of the fall semester and when selected to participate in Texas State’s random COVID-19 testing program. Testing information can be found on the Texas State’s COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Response Steps webpage.
- Stay home and get tested if you develop cold-like or other COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.
- Promptly Report to Bobcat Trace if you test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who received a positive test result. Reporting information can be found on the Texas State’s COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Response Steps webpage.
- Isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Stay home and away from others for 10 days from the start of symptoms or the positive test if you have no symptoms.
- Quarantine if you have been identified as a close contact and stay home for the prescribed time period.
- Fully vaccinated Bobcats who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine but should get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after last exposure. They should also wear a face mask when indoors in public spaces for 14 days since the exposure or until a negative test result is obtained three to five days after exposure.
- Unvaccinated Bobcats are required to quarantine for 10 days since the time of last exposure.
Please continue to follow the university’s Roadmap for updates.
Face Covering and Vaccination Protocol
Per standing guidance from Governor Abbott’s executive orders and confirmed by The Texas State University System’s Office of the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, the university is not able to require face coverings or vaccinations. Every member of the university community is urged to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Together, we can reduce the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19 and live out our shared values of respect and compassion.
As in the past, faculty members may consider alternatives to face-to face office hours, such as video conferencing in Teams or Zoom, telephone calls, emails, and other means.
Class Instruction Modes
Classes must be fully implemented in the instruction mode that appears on the Schedule of Classes in Catsweb. Approximately 87 percent of fall 2021 classes will include some form of face-to-face instruction (face-to-face and hybrid instruction modes) and 13 percent will be completely online.
Instructor requests to change a class instruction mode should be rare, since changes at this late date may have multiple ramifications via: student expectations and learning preferences, required certification for faculty to teach hybrid/online, student immigration status and regulatory requirements, on-campus or off-campus student residential status, new or different charges on tuition and fee statements, classroom availability and utilization, student transition time to other classes, and so forth. Changes based on other university policy and procedures, such as ADA workplace accommodations, proceed independently.
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) provides reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. Faculty are responsible for implementing accommodations based on the office’s process, assessment, and formal recommendations per UPPS 07.11.01, Disability Services for Students. Please note that although students with ODS accommodations may discuss alternatives with instructors if they are unable to attend a face-to-face class, a faculty member is not required to accommodate a request that represents a fundamental alteration to the delivery methods of a course or program.
Student requests for modifications outside of the ODS process may be considered by a faculty member, but there is no requirement to make modifications.
As in the past, faculty have discretion in managing student absences, including those due to illness. Students who must isolate or quarantine should report to Bobcat Trace and contact their professors to make appropriate arrangements for completing assignments. Students can notify instructors directly or utilize the absence notifications form. Faculty members determine appropriate arrangements for students who miss class.
If there are a large number of absences in a face-to-face class and the instructor finds difficulty in managing make-up assignments and course delivery, remote learning and alternative strategies are at the instructor’s discretion. For example, the instructor may choose to use Zoom so absent students are able to observe lectures and class activities. Or, an instructor may record and distribute lectures, add discussion boards in Canvas, create substitute assignments, or implement some other plan.
Faculty and Staff Absences
Faculty who are absent from class coordinate with their department chairs/school directors to ensure continuity of instruction. In some cases, a faculty member teaching face-to-face may transition to remote learning for a brief period by using Zoom, Teams, Canvas, or other tools. For extended absences, another faculty member may be asked to assume responsibility for the class. Deans and chairs/directors may contact the Office of the Provost for support or guidance.
Employees who must isolate or quarantine should report to Bobcat Trace and visit with their supervisor about leave options. Employees in isolation or quarantine may work remotely only if requested and approved through their Department Head. For more information, visit the Employee Time and Leave section on the Roadmap.
Syllabus Content Reminders (see section 13 of AA/PPS 02.03.01 for all syllabus requirements)
Required class materials, access to materials, use of Canvas, and/or instructional strategies.
- Technology or software are needed for the class, including getting support from ITAC.
- Exams, assignments, grading rubrics, assessment and testing, and due dates.
- How office hours will be handled (i.e., Zoom, Teams, email, etc…).
- Attendance policy and record-keeping procedures.
- Assigned seating and required seating charts for face-to-face and hybrid class sections.
- Monitor the university’s Roadmap for any updates.
In all courses, faculty members provide regular and substantive interaction with students. This interaction is instructor-driven, frequent, and consistent throughout the semester.
Our Mission and Our Shared Values
Faculty who wish to include information about the university’s mission and shared values statements in a syllabus for spring 2021 courses should use the following statements from the 2017-2023 Texas State University Plan:
Texas State University is a doctoral-granting, student-centered institution dedicated to excellence and innovation in teaching, research, including creative expression, and service. The university strives to create new knowledge, to embrace a diversity of people and ideas, to foster cultural and economic development, and to prepare its graduates to participate fully and freely as citizens of Texas, the nation, and the world.
In pursuing our mission, we, the faculty, staff, and students of Texas State University, are guided by a shared collection of values:
- Teaching and learning based on research, student involvement, and the free exchange of ideas in a supportive environment;
- Research and creative activities that encompass the full range of academic disciplines—research with relevance, from the sciences to the arts, from the theoretical to the applied;
- The cultivation of character, integrity, honesty, civility, compassion, fairness, respect, and ethical behavior in all members of our university community;
- A diversity of people and ideas, a spirit of inclusiveness, a global perspective, and a sense of community as essential conditions for campus life;
- A commitment to service and leadership for the public good;
- Responsible stewardship of our resources and environment; and
- Continued reflection and evaluation to ensure that our strengths as a community always benefit those we serve.
Academic Integrity and Student Conduct
In the event of an emergency, faculty, students, and staff should monitor the Safety and Emergency Communications web page. This page will be updated with the latest information available to the university, in addition to providing links to information concerning safety resources and emergency procedures. Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to sign up for the TXState Alert system.
Sexual Misconduct Reporting (SB 212)
Effective January 2, 2020, state law (SB 212) requires all university employees, acting in the course and scope of employment, who witness or receive information concerning an incident of sexual misconduct involving an enrolled student or employee to report all relevant information known about the incident to the university's Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX coordinator. According to SB 212, employees who knowingly fail to report or knowingly file a false report shall be terminated in accordance with university policy and The Texas State University System Rules and Regulations.
Thank you. I greatly appreciate your ongoing dedication to the mission, vision, and shared values of Texas State University and look forward to seeing you soon. I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.