Returning to Mines

A tool kit for safely returning to campus

to Mines

A tool kit for safely
returning to campus

Classroom and Lab Use Instructions

Please note: This is an evolving document and will be updated regularly. This document was created and will be maintained by Mines’ Academic Affairs office. The version below was last reviewed on December 23, 2020. 

Colorado School of Mines recognizes that faculty and students may have questions about actions being taken to minimize COVID-19 transmission as they come back to teach and learn on campus. All will share responsibility for keeping the campus community safe, so that we can continue to stay open during the 2020-21 school year.

Having said that, we recognize that faculty and TAs will be playing a frontline role in their classrooms and laboratories, and that students will be looking to them to establish and enforce the norms and expectations in both. Faculty and TAs will also be serving as role models for our students as they interact on campus and are encouraged to maintain safe practices outside of the classroom as well. To that end, we are providing the information below to all faculty who should also share this with their TAs so that they understand what is expected broadly across campus and also more specifically for their role as leaders in classrooms and labs to keep our community safe. For the purposes of this policy, the term instructor refers to anyone responsible for leading the instruction in a classroom or lab. These could be members of full-time faculty, adjuncts, or teaching assistants (TA).

In general, we would like instructors in the classrooms and labs to model and encourage best practices among their students, to observe and intervene as needed and, if necessary, to notify their department head of egregious violations in their classrooms and labs.

Instructors’ and students’ health and safety are the underlying objective behind the following directions for classroom and lab use. These Mines-specific plans were developed with consideration of the Colorado Departments of Higher Education (CDHE) and Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidelines. They emphasize implementation of the following best practices:

Courtesy: CDHE, Planning for Return to Campus During COVID-19

Thank you in advance for your diligence and efforts to maintain safety and quality education at Mines. We appreciate all you do for our students and institution.

General Instructions

  • Remind students not to come to class when sick. Provide information on how to complete work when unable to attend class.
  • Social distancing, face coverings, controlled entrances and exits, and frequent cleaning of class and lab surfaces are the new norm.
  • Social distancing means staying at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Mines will develop and post an adjusted room occupancy and room-specific configuration for each classroom and lab on campus. Instructors should make a note of these when entering a classroom or lab and ensure all present follow the new configuration. Classes will be assigned to rooms so that enrollment is consistent with this new adjusted room capacity. View the spreadsheet prepared by the Registrar’s Office noting new classroom occupancy standards.
  • All classrooms will also have signage indicating class capacity and other general instructions. Instructors should follow this signage, set an example for their students, and encourage their students to be responsible as well. Instructors are responsible for establishing how students enter and exit the room on the first day of class. Row by row dismissal when class ends is recommended.
  • Classrooms may have chairs or tables that are taped off, covered or signed that should not be used. Students are not allowed to remove these coverings or labels or use these seats/tables.
  • Students are NOT allowed to move furniture OUTSIDE the assigned room.
  • Everyone must wear a face covering while inside any building on campus. All students and instructors will be required to wear face coverings in the correct way when interacting in a face-to-face setting.  The face covering should completely cover the nose (nasal openings at a minimum) and mouth. See the Mines’ Mask Policy for more details on acceptable face masks.
  • Instructors will likely need to remind their students about the need for social distancing and wearing face coverings. Students should be encouraged to follow these policies and any additional ones established for the class.  Instructors must enforce these policies and ensure that students can only participate if they comply with requirements for safe classroom or lab use.  Instructors must tell a student to leave the room if they are not properly wearing a face covering or following any of the other requirements for safe use of the room.
  • Instructors should provide a remote option or other in-person and engagement opportunities while ensuring safety of all parties for students who are not able to wear face masks due to underlying health or other issues. Students cannot be in a classroom without a mask. The only accommodation for students who cannot wear a mask is giving them the option to engage remotely.
  • All students should be encouraged to disinfect areas they use at the beginning of the class period. Cleaning supplies will be provided in classrooms. More specifics on how to refill personal sanitizer bottles or get extra supplies can be found at the Mines COVID Safety Supply Store.
  • All instructors should also disinfect areas they use at the beginning and end of each class period including door knobs if possible. Cleaning supplies will be provided in classrooms.
  • Please eliminate or minimize shared use of resources within and across classes. Instructors should strive to  use their own board erasers, markers, chalk, etc.  Also, ITS is working to provide faculty with personal microphones and face shields that connect to the A/V platforms to help students hear when faculty are speaking with a face covering.
  • End of class gatherings and questions should be avoided to allow for smooth transitions between classes. Instructors should encourage students to connect with them outside of class during office hours or by scheduling time to meet in person or via Zoom.
  • Students should not bring any food or drinks in class. Water is allowed.
  • Book bags and backpacks are possible sources of contamination. Personal belongings such as book bags and backpacks will also need to be kept 6 ft from others in the room.

Additional instructions for classroom and lab use, with consideration of different delivery modes, are provided below.

Regular Lecture Settings

  • Make sure all students are facing the same direction
  • Some students may opt-in to remote learning. Record lectures so students not on campus can view later or watch live, or develop alternate ways for the remote students to engage in the course and have a rich learning experience.  The Trefny Center can help instructors think about different strategies.
  • Instructors should dismiss students 5 min early so students can get to their next class and the students coming into the classroom can disinfect their seating area before class starts.

Active-Learning Settings / Working in Groups

  • Designate two or three areas within the room where students can come to instructors for questions. (This is recommended over having instructors walking around among too many students).  Wear face coverings at ALL times.
  • Instructors should rotate between these designated areas so all groups get a chance to ask questions.
  • Allow only 2 or 3 students at a time in the designated area ensuring 6-foot social distancing.
  • When forming groups of students for interactive activities, discussions, problem solving, etc., ensure students are 6-feet apart. Reduce group sizes if needed.  Use online tools to help with discussions and other interactions during class.
  • Develop a plan for students to use their mobile devices to communicate with one another during class time if physical talk is not reasonable in the classroom setting while maintaining social distance.
  • When moving chairs and tables around to form groups, ensure students are still 6-feet apart. Do not allow students to use chairs or tables meant to be fixed in place or are tagged “do not use.”

Lab Settings

  • Department administrators and lab coordinators are able to order safety supplies (face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfecting spray, paper towels, hand soap, and gloves) from the COVID-19 Safety Supply Store.
  • Point out the nearest handwashing location to your class
  • Emphasize the need for cloth mask use and advise those with ties on their mask to shorten the tails of the mask ties so they do not hang below their chin.
  • Remind students to clean shared equipment touch points after they use the equipment and to wash their hands at the end of class. Encourage frequent hand washing or sanitizing. Departments can request hand sanitizer bottles for their labs.
  • In laboratories and workshops, require students and faculty to wear safety glasses in addition to their face covering. Safety glasses with side shields are required personal protective equipment (PPE) in laboratories and workshops.

Precautions when social distancing cannot be maintained

Every effort should be made to maintain adequate physical separation – that is social distancing of at least 6 feet. Employ these precautions when students and professors are required to work within the 6 foot separation distance (e.g. hands on instruction or group builds):

  • Redesign assignments to minimize the number and duration of close interactions.
  • Keep the duration of close interactions to brief encounters, less than 3 minutes.
  • Require students and faculty to wear safety glasses in addition to their face covering. Safety glasses with side shields are required personal protective equipment (PPE) in laboratories and workshops.
  • Encourage frequent handwashing.
  • Consider allowing only one student/group to be physically in lab working at the assigned workstation at a time.
  • Consider allowing students to rotate their physical presence in lab to ensure all students get the required amount of hands-on experience.
  • Avoid sharing equipment if feasible. If not, ensure students disinfect any equipment before and after use.
  • Do not allow students to visit each other’s workstations unless essential.
  • Consider developing labs that can be done remotely if necessary. Examples include: simulation-based labs, at home labs that use common household materials safely, etc.  

Addressing Noncompliant Behavior

  • Remind students that wearing a face mask is a campus policy and an expectation. By not doing so, they are directly violating Mines’ student code of conduct by presenting a danger or threat to the healthy or safety of him/herself or others;
  • First offense: Request the student to put on a face mask and provide them with a pleated disposable mask (available through the COVID Safety Supply Store) if they don’t have a face mask. Try resolving the matter with the student in a non-confrontational manner by informing the student about campus policy and student code of conduct. If a student refuses to wear a face mask in class after being requested to put one on and being provided one if they don’t have one, class can be cancelled at the discretion of the instructor. Public Safety is the very last resort and can be called if and only if the student is aggressive/belligerent.
  • When an incident such as the one mentioned above occurs, instructors (including teaching assistants) should report the matter up to their direct supervisors. The matter should be brought to the attention of DHs. DHs should speak with the student reiterating campus policy, Oredigger Promise, etc., and have the student sign an agreement that they will wear a mask in all their classes from here on out.
  • Second offense: If noncompliant behavior continues, DHs should report such behavioral issues to Derek Morgan, Dean of Students. Appropriate action will be determined by Student Life to address the violation of code of conduct.

Mines Climbs Together



Our Campus