CS Covid-19 Policies

Policies and Guidelines for Fall 2020 Re-opening
Computer Science

These guidelines and policies are based on the current policies outlined by the University in the RoadMap to return.  These are subject to change. Most of this document is informational in nature. In general, the document does not create new policies, but rather provides clarification and add specificity to University outlined plans.

Contents

  1. Teaching
  2. Research
  3. Office Space
  4. Office Operations
  5. Open Labs
  6. Health and Safety
  7. Information Resources
  8. FAQ
  9. Information for Students

Teaching

Instruction Modality: With a few exceptions, all CS classes scheduled in fall 2020 will exceed 50% of room capacity. According to the University-set policies, these classes will be delivered in the Hybrid A/B model. In this mode, students are split in groups A and B. Group A attends the lecture physically on one day while group B attends remotely. And then the groups switch roles for the next lecture.

The A/B model is designated as a F2F class by the University. In a F2F class, more than 50% of the total instructional time is required to be face-to-face.  As such, there is a requirement to deliver most of the lectures F2F in the classroom. For faculty with approved workplace modification requests, this requirement of F2F delivery does not apply.

Faculty can make the A/B split at their discretion as long as (i) social distancing is maintained in the classroom and (ii) each group gets an equal amount of F2F interaction and (iii) students with approved academic modifications are allowed to always be in the remote group.

 

Student accommodation: A student may request academic modifications through the Office of Disability Services.  If a student has an approved academic modification, then we need to plan so that the student can take the class remotely. Currently, there is no deadline set by ODS for when the students need to submit the request. Essentially, what this means, is that we need to be prepared for online delivery in all classes, even the ones that are at less than 50% capacity.

There may be students who do not have an ODS approved modification but are not comfortable attending F2F classes in the fall. We would like to accommodate these students as well. These students should be allowed to attend lectures remotely in the classes that are taught in the hybrid A/B model. However, the faculty can ask these students to appear in-person to take exams and give presentations.  These students are asked to send in a request to the CS department at https://cs.txstate.edu/resources/student_forms

 

Online Teaching Certification: The University requires all faculty teaching in the fall to complete approved professional development for online teaching. ODEL is offering both self-paced and scheduled classes for online teaching certification.

 

General recommendation for teaching:  Prepare your course as if it will be taught entirely online and remotely, and then if you are required to do some form of face to face instruction, you can use that time to answer questions and go over examples or do other forms of active learning.

 

Syllabi: University guidelines for what information needs to be included can be found on the Teaching & Research page under Course Implementation and Syllabi.

 

Attendance:  If we are in face to face mode and you are using a mode where only a sub-set of the students may attend on a given class day, then please have a very clear attendance policy stated in your syllabus.  For example, will students be penalized for attending remotely when their group is meeting in class?

  • We are being encouraged by administration to have a "pandemic disruption tolerant attendance policy".
  • Some students will have been certified as vulnerable populations who should not come to class, and others may need to self-quarantine at some point. These students should not be penalized for not attending in person.
  • Assigned seats should be used in all classroom learning spaces to benefit contact tracing should a positive COVID-19 case emerge. (From the Social Distancing Measures page).

Exams: Options for administering midterm exams:

  1. Online (perhaps open book) for all students.
  2. In class if enrollment is below 50% of classroom capacity
  3. If using the A/B model (two groups, only half come to class each day):
    1. It is not recommended to give two versions of the exam at the same time, one in class (closed book) and the other online (open book).
    2. In-class: give the exam to A students on one day and B students the next
    3. In-class: for two classes meeting at the same time (in rooms of similar size) Exam day for class 1 is administered in both classrooms (class 2 is canceled, or maybe held remotely for all) and vice versa on exam day for class 2. The instructors can help proctor each other’s exams or have a TA do it.

Recommendations for online exams to help deter cheating:

  1. Use the Quizzes tool on Canvas, using various types of questions:
    1. use your own test bank of questions, a subset selected randomly for each student
    2. have the questions displayed in a random order
    3. use timed exams (everyone takes it at the same time)
    4. present the questions one at a time (students cannot see the entire exam at once)
    5. do not allow going back to previous questions
  2. Proctoringonline exams:
    1. For smaller classes you can try to require everyone to take the test using zoom with a camera and a microphone on and monitor the students as they take the exam. Some students may have difficulty acquiring the equipment or may not have a quiet place to take the exam.
    2. There may or may not be options to use services that will do the monitoring for you (like Examity).
  3. Lock-down browsers: you may be able to require the students to use a special internet browser (like Respondus) to take the test which does not allow the students to use any other software or visit any other websites while taking the exam. But this requires students to install special software on their computer and they may encounter technical difficulties.

Final Exams: For classes with enrollment greater than 50% of the classroom capacity, one possibility for in-class exams is one-hour exams for two groups administered separately with a 30-min break in between.

 

Assignment Submission:  Assignments should be submitted, and grades returned using Canvas.

Requiring in-person hard-copy submission of assignments for this semester is strongly discouraged.  If non-digital submissions are required, the students can scan the physical pages with their phone and submit the images.

 

Classroom Technology: In Fall, CS classes will be taught in the following rooms

  • DERR 235, DERR 234, DERR 240
  • HINES 201, HINES 203
  • IGRM 3104
  • ELA 225
  • ED 4007
  • ENC 204
  • ASBS 112
  • AVRY 355, AVRY 364, AVRY 365, AVRY 366

DERR 235, DERR 114-C, AVRY 355, AVRY 364, AVRY 365, AVRY 366, ENC 204 are Zoom-capable rooms.

 

The rest of the rooms will have a webcam and a microphone. Both the webcam and microphone focus on the instructor podium, by default. If you have special needs or want to change the configuration, please contact Scott. Please note that converting a room to be Zoom capable is not a viable option as the conversion upwards of $20K per room.

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Research

Research Lab: If a student/research staff needs to be physically present in the lab to conduct research then re-opening and operations should follow the guidelines set forth by ORSP.

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Office Space

Permanent Faculty: No changes to assignments of office space to permanent faculty

Adjunct Faculty: Adjunct faculty offices have been assigned to maintain social distancing. Space has been designated such that an adjunct faculty does not to have share the office space with another faculty on the days they are teaching. Please contact Michelle, if you have questions.

DRA/GRA/UGRA: Social distancing will be enforced in the shared office space for student research assistants. This includes CMAL 303, CMAL 307 and CMAL 309 and DERR mezzanine offices. These rooms will operate at 50% capacity. We are currently at 90% utilization of all *RA spaces. This means that many of our *RAs will only be able to utilize their office space only half the time.

Once the roster RAs is finalized Dr. Gu will form a seat allocation plan that is effective in maintaining health and safety precautions and agreeable to all faculty research advisors. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Gu.

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Office Operations

The prioritization of health and safety requires creativity in the workplace so our CS Office Staff will utilize staggered schedules:

  • One staff member (either Karen, Chelsea, or Michelle) will be in the CS Office during all university business days from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Staff members will work remotely on days they are not in the office and will be available through email or simply dial their office extension which is forwarded to their Microsoft Teams number.
  •  We will have two Student Workers rotate in and out of the CS Comal Office throughout the week. There may not always be a student worker available to assist, so please try to plan your requests in advance. Staff members will be available to provide any back-up support when our student workers are unavailable.

Please take a few minutes to review the new policies and procedures implemented for working in the Comal building with our staff members:

  • Please limit face-to-face contact with staff members and student workers.  Please send all work requests electronically and only enter office space as a last resort.
  • The mailroom door leading out to the student’s work area will remain locked.  Please approach the student worker area/front desk from the main door.
  • Please stay behind the stanchion when working with the student worker.
  • Only one staff or faculty member permitted in the mailroom at all times.  Please utilize disinfectant wipes and clean all surfaces you contact in the mailroom prior to leaving.
  • Please look around your area and ensure seating has been arranged to allow social distancing.  Remove any additional seating that might encourage students close contact. 
  • If you are conducting face-to-face office hours, please ensure your office can accommodate a minimum of six feet of distance.  If you cannot ensure this distance, please book one of our conference rooms for your face-to-face needs.
  • Report any air circulation problems immediately to any staff member.

If you need technical assistance, please use the cs_helpdesk@txstate.edu mailbox for all requests.  Not all technical staff may be on campus on a given day, and you will be assured a response by utilizing the helpdesk mailbox.

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Open Labs

  • DERR 231: 9am – 5pm, MTWTHF
  • MCS 590 Suite: CLOSED
  • Avery: CLOSED

Staffing:

DERR 231 will be staffed by only ONE employee at a time. This will be a GIA. They will be tasked with watching the equipment, cleaning keyboards and mice, and ensuring all the open lab rules (below) will be followed.

DERR 325 and 236 will continue to be staffed during classes by a Lab Lead and a Lab Assist. As the classrooms will have a reduced capacity (12 chairs), this should help with social distancing during F2F instruction.

Rules for OPEN LAB use (DERR 231) for Fall 2020:

  • All users must wear a face mask properly (over mouth and nose) for the full time in the lab.
  • One person to a computer. No extra seating.
  • No food or drink
  • Keyboards/mice/desk must be sanitized between each use
  • 1-hour time limit per session. 
  • No waiting in the lab. Waiting to use lab equipment must be done outside while observing social distancing protocols.
  • At times of high traffic, 231-C MAY be opened to accommodate an additional six people. The same rules apply.
  • No group-work. 
  • Printing should be kept to a minimum
  • Failure to abide by these rules and regulations will result in a semester-long ban from lab facilities.
  • Anyone displaying ANY SYMPTOMS of illness MUST refrain from entering the lab. No exceptions.

Instructional Lab Policy (DERR 325 and 236)

  • All students must wear a face mask properly (over nose and mouth) for the full time of the lab.
  • One person to a computer. No extra seating. 
  • The class may operate at a MAXIMUM of 50% capacity (12 seats only per room). All others MUST use Zoom to attend lab sessions.
  • If more than 12 students want to attend class in person, it is up to the instructor’s discretion to assign who will be in person and who will be online.
  • If no students wish to attend class in person, classes can be given in a remote-only environment.
  • No food or drink in labs. 
  • Keyboards and mice must be cleaned after each use. 
  • No group-work
  • Assignments should be turned in ELECTRONICALLY. 
  • Anyone displaying ANY SYMPTOMS of illness MUST refrain from entering the lab. No exceptions.

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Health and Safety

The CS Administrative Staff has collected various materials to increase the cleanliness in your personal areas. Currently, we have a package of alcohol wipes and personal sized hand sanitizer available for each faculty member. We can refill the personal size hand sanitizer, please contact one of the Administrative Staff if you are needing a refill. Currently, we have a very limited supply of masks. Please be ready to supply your own mask.

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Information Resources

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FAQ

  1. Does the A/B model apply to faculty who have approved workplace modifications?
    No.
  2. How should the A/B splits be made? Should MWF classes follow the ABC model?
    This is up to the faculty as long as social distancing measures are observed, and each group gets equal F2F interaction.
  3. Is full remote teaching allowed without a workplace modification? Can most of the lectures be done remotely, and students meet F2F only once a month?
    Full remote teaching is not allowed if the class is designated as F2F. Most of the lectures need to be delivered F2F. If a faculty has an approved workplace modification, then their courses are switched to online-only by the Registrar.
  4. Are PhD classes exempt from the A/B model of delivery?
    No, they are not. If the classroom capacity exceeds 50% then the classes need to follow the A/B model. If the faculty teaching the class has an approved workplace modification, then the class can be delivered online.  
  5. What action can be taken if a student does not agree with the split? A remote student wants to attend a specific F2F lecture? What is the protocol for when a student from group B shows up in the physical lectures designated for group A?
    If the remote student being in the classroom violates social distancing measures (it may not always be the case) then the request should be denied. If the student shows up in the classroom then they should be asked to leave. For students who do not comply, the university has outlined procedures for disciplinary actions in the RoadMap.
  6. What action can be taken if a student does not agree with the split? An F2F student wants to attend lectures remotely.
    If the student wants to attend a F2F class remotely, they are asked to send in a request to the CS department at https://cs.txstate.edu/resources/student_forms
  7. Does the faculty need to wear a mask during the lecture?
    Yes, current University policy mandates that faculty wear a mask during the entire lecture.
  8. Can faculty require all students to bring a laptop and headset to the class?
    Students can be asked to bring a laptop and headset. But if a student does not have access to these, then the faculty needs to make alternate arrangements.
  9. Can faculty require F2F students to log in to the Zoom meeting in class?
    Yes.
  10. Are there any guidelines for paper-based exams?
    Yes, see Section 1 of this document.
  11. Will students be allowed to use their devices during exams? Those taking the exam remotely cannot be prevented from doing so.
    Policies for assessment and exam administration are left to the faculty.
  12. What is the classroom configuration for audio/video?
    See section 1 of this document. All classrooms will have at least a webcam and a microphone. A few will have the full Zoom set-up. If you have specific requirements for the classroom where you are teaching, please contact the CS Helpdesk (cs_helpdesk@txstate.edu)  
  13. Will wireless microphones be made available?
    No, but if you need one please contact the CS Helpdesk (cs_helpdesk@txstate.edu)
  14. Will there be microphones/cameras to capture the entire room?
    In most classrooms the microphones/cameras pick up the instructor at the podium, but they can be configured differently.
  15. Rooms in Derrick and Evans do not have good circulation. Can this be fixed?
    Please send the details to Karen and we will send in a request to Facilities.
  16. What is the protocol for dealing with a sick student in class?
    It should be reported to the Student Health Center. The Health Center is developing a tool for reporting which will be made available prior to the fall semester.
  17. What are the criteria for a class to be categorized as online? If I am doing most of the lectures remotely and the exams are administered F2F, does this qualify as online for workplace modification purposes?
    According to ODEL’s definition, an online course cannot have more than 15% required face-to-face interaction of the total instructional time. So, a class, that meets F2F three or four times over the semester for exams, would qualify as online for workplace modification.

 

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Information for Students 

International Students:  The policy to bar international students from attending online-only classes was rescinded by the administration on July 14, 2020. International students on F-1 visas can continue the academic pursuits with no disruption in the event that the University goes into a full online mode.

 

Remote attendance: The department will offer both online and F2F classes in fall 2020. This designation will be finalized by July 22. Students are asked to check the schedule after that date. If the student wants to attend a F2F class remotely, they are asked to send in a request to the CS department at https://cs.txstate.edu/resources/student_forms

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