Faculty Guidance: Teaching and Learning Guidelines for Fall 2021

Last updated August 2021

Welcome back! As we look to Fall 2021, we are excited to provide Mines students with the high-quality experience for which we are known. This includes implementing research-based and pedagogically sound practices as we deliver important content and develop critical skills. The Trefny Innovative Instruction Center offers resources and services to support you in your efforts to continuously improve teaching and learning at Mines.

Current expectations are that teaching and learning at Mines will return to normal; however, given the uncertainties of COVID, course delivery and procedures may need to change based on campus immunization levels, CDC guidelines, and county directives. These guidelines have been developed to help faculty provide uninterrupted, high-quality, in-person, instruction to our students. They have been collaboratively developed based on what we know as of August 2021 about the pandemic and relevant county/state guidance. This is a living document that will be updated as we learn more about campus immunization levels and CDC/county directives, while focusing on the best interest of our students and faculty.


  • Establish an open line of communication with your students asking them to proactively communicate needs or concerns in a timely manner.
  • Courses are scheduled to be delivered in person to provide students with a fully face-to-face (F2F) experience. However, if continuing to use technologies such as laptops, webcams, special software (Zoom, Proctorio, etc.), to supplement course delivery, inform students of requirements no later than the first day of class.
  • Be aware that classrooms will return to full occupancy and furnishings restored to pre-COVID layouts.
  • Remind students of the Oredigger Promise at regular intervals.
  • Encourage your students to stay home when sick to mitigate the spread of any type of sickness. This applies to faculty as well.
  • Provide students with regular and clearly posted office hours via Zoom and/or in-person. It is perfectly acceptable to hold in-person office hours with social distancing. Faculty may ask students to wear masks during office hours if it helps make them feel comfortable and safer. DHs can reserve larger spaces for office hours to accommodate more students if needed.
  • Faculty should continue to respond to email communications within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Ask your students to use the “Raise Your Hand” function to seek support, clarification, or guidance with any matter if they are stuck or unsure who can best assist. Raise Your Hand is available here.
  • Faculty should direct sick students to self-report to the Mines COVID-19 Response Initiator Team (CRIT) via this webpage
  • Be aware that COVID-19 testing is available for free on campus and can be scheduled here: https://my.primary.health/a/mines.
  • DHs should appoint a faculty member who can be the main departmental point of contact for all matters related to COVID-19. This person will be responsible for keeping up to date on Mines’ policies, procedures, and FAQs (See Appendix A). They should solicit answers from their DH or Dean for faculty, as the need arises.
  • Please note that no one in the Mines community can inquire about individual vaccination status (student, staff or faculty). All students must be treated equally regardless of their vaccination status.


Illustration of students taking online classStudent Absences

Faculty are empowered to adjust their courses in a way that ensures students can keep up with coursework in the case of extended absences. A few recommendations are listed below:

  • Share expectations and opportunities on how students will be able to make up missed work.
  • Provide reasonable flexibility in the course such that students are able to miss up to two weeks of class or assignments due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, without a significant impact on their grade.
  • Create a culture where students do not feel pressured to come to class when sick (putting others at risk) for fear of falling behind.
  • Design your course so that solitary work (e.g., readings, lectures, modeling, individual practice) can be done during out-of-class time while activities such as discussions and practice with feedback occur during class time.
  • Set up a “buddy system” so that students can catch other students up remotely; be clear about expectations. This could include Zooming quarantine/isolated (Q/I) students into lectures, labs and group work.
  • Utilize live-capture technology currently available in classrooms to record and share current lectures.
  • Create a “highlights” video or podcast that summarizes main topics for students and offer supplemental materials.
  • Utilize recorded lectures from AY 20–21 (if available) to make up missed lectures.
  • For labs, recitations, studios, discussion-based and other hands-on sections, different types of contingency plans may apply. For example, faculty can work with their teaching assistants to schedule makeup sections in the evenings or weekends to compensate for lost time. Another solution is to use remote options that were designed during AY 20 –21 to substitute for the hands-on experience.

Assignments and Exams

  • Faculty should consider developing assessments that assess the learning outcomes of the course, but that do not require high-level proctoring, like high-stakes exams. We encourage you to use authentic assessments. These would be similar to what students will experience in a workplace setting. See the assessment resources on the Trefny Center website for assessment ideas and considerations for the Fall 2020 semester.
  • If faculty are using Canvas, Proctorio or other similar software to monitor exams pre-COVID, they may continue to do so. However, please note the limited license availability for Proctorio. Some reasons to avoid using proctoring software as can be found here. Additional information about Proctorio as it pertains to Mines can be found here (please make sure you are logged in to Canvas). Faculty can point students to this FAQ site to address their concerns.
  • Since all courses will be F2F in Fall 2021, we encourage faculty to rely on in-person testing. The Mines Testing Center (MTC) will continue to support students with guaranteed access to MTC to support registered disabilities or needs. MTC will prioritize faculty requested times for exams administered through the Testing Center. We ask that faculty are prepared for when requested exams times are not possible due to student schedule conflicts and Testing Center operations (e.g.,occupancy or availability of private testing rooms). In such instances, the Testing Center is authorized to schedule the accommodated exam as soon as possible within three business days of the regularly scheduled exam.
  • The MTC will be able to provide a limited amount of non-registered testing virtual proctoring assistance to those in Q/I. Requests are not guaranteed. Refer to the MTC Plan for Fall 2021 for further information/guidance.
  • If students report they are unable to take an exam because they are sick, we ask that faculty not require a doctor’s note and arrange for them to take a makeup exam. This is to discourage students from being on campus if sick.
  • Similar to AY 20 –21, make-up exams and any alternative plans developed for students in Q/I should be designed to be consistent with the regularly scheduled activities. They should be designed to assess similar outcomes and require a similar amount of time and effort to complete. All assessments should directly align with the learning outcomes and should focus on assessing student mastery of each outcome. Boundary conditions, resources allowed, etc., should be the same across the actual exam and the make-up.
  • Common hour exams are shifting to an 8 p.m. start time (8 –9:30 p.m.) for multi-section coordinated courses with high enrollment. If students report a conflict during a common exam time with an exam in another class or another scheduled class, please refer to the policy here.

Mask Policy Compliance

  1. Faculty have the responsibility to make sure students are following policies.
  2. Faculty have the authority to require students to wear a mask in classrooms and labs.
  3. Faculty can hand out masks to students who do not have one on hand. Department managers can order spare masks from the Mines COVID safety supply store.
  4. Faculty have the authority to ask a student to leave the class/lab if they are not following policy. They shouldn’t force a student to leave, but it should be addressed with the student in a timely fashion.
  5. If a student is not wearing a mask and will not leave the academic space, the faculty member should let the student know that he/she will be filing a report with the Dean of Students for follow up. Avoid adversely impacting an entire class for one person’s poor behavior. Cancelling class should be avoided and practiced only as a last resort.
  6. As soon as possible following class, the faculty member should notify the Dean of Students of anyone that is refusing to follow policy and not wear a mask in the classroom/lab. The easiest way to do so is to complete the reporting form.
  7. The student will be contacted for an Administrative Conduct Meeting with the Dean of Students and the incident will be documented in the student’s record. The student will be notified that their enrollment in the class and the institution is in jeopardy should the behavior/policy violation continue. Additional educational sanctions may be imposed as well.
  8. The Dean of Students Office and Public Safety will not be able to respond immediately to incidents like this. It should simply be documented with my office for follow up. However, if the student is combative, violent toward others, or making threats of violence, a call to Public Safety is appropriate.

Emergency Readiness

  • Faculty are encouraged to build “flex days” into their course calendar in case of unavoidable class cancellations.
  • If an instructor tests positive for COVID-19, which prohibits them from teaching, DHs will make every effort to avoid cancellation of more than one class period by identifying an alternative instructor to deliver the course.
  • If a classroom or lab needs to be closed for cleaning and disinfection (closure may last up to 2 days), faculty will need to pivot to remote delivery during the cleaning period.

Jedis will again be available to assist students placed in Q/I. DHs should recruit at least two graduate and/or undergraduate students as Jedis who can be on standby. Possible duties for Jedis include:

  • If a student needs to step away from academic work due to illness, Jedis can help those in Q/I to keep up with course material/assignments, provide remote one-on-one or group help, hold extra remote office hours, etc. These students will need to be familiar with the course material and topics covered in class.
  • Proctor exams for students who are in Q/I and need to take the exam remotely.
  • Deliver courses in-person if the instructor needs to be on leave due to illness or other extenuating circumstances until the DH identifies an instructor.
  • Assist with recording of live lectures using technology in the classroom.
  • Hand-deliver exams and instructional materials (printouts, materials, supplies, etc.) to those in quarantine or isolation if this material cannot be provided in digital format. Please minimize the need for hand delivery as much as possible.

Jedis should be used on a temporary basis to help students catch up (and stay caught up) when unable to attend class for extended periods of time. It is imperative that faculty and students understand that remote and hybrid options are no longer available as long-term permanent solutions. Jedis will not provide grading support and are not to be treated as course TAs. They are only to be used to assist with unexpected cases of illness for extended periods of time. Requests to receive Jedi assistance should go through the DHs and deans.

Appendix A

Current Mines COIVID-19 Policies can be viewed here: https://www.mines.edu/coronavirus/

Appendix B


Quarantine (Q): keeps someone who was in close contact with a COVID-19 positive case away from others. Duration of quarantine can range from 7 to 14 days, but could be as long as 24 days for caregivers of COVID-19 cases.

Isolation (I): keeps someone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others. Duration of isolation is a minimum of 10 days from symptom onset/positive test date. Cases must be fever free for 24 hours and symptoms must have improved before ending isolation.

Student Extended Absences Due to Quarantine/Isolation (Q/I)

Student Life will continue to send emails regarding excused absences to faculty on behalf of students. Please note: Student Life is unable to verify documentation in cases of reported illness for students who have mild symptoms that do not necessitate a doctor’s care/attention and subside within a few days.

Students who need to quarantine or isolate will miss more than a handful of classes. Students in quarantine may be able to keep up with classwork remotely but students in isolation may be ill and be excused from class activities/engagement. Faculty should treat these cases as they would other excused absences and provide opportunities for students to make up missed classwork, assignments, exams, and other deadlines.