COSAM News Articles 2021 August Message from the Deans - Planning for Fall Semester

Message from the Deans - Planning for Fall Semester

Published: 08/10/2021

By: Nicholas J. Giordano , Edward Thomas Jr

Dear COSAM faculty, staff and students,

In the last year, we have overcome many challenges due to the pandemic. We appreciate all of your hard work in helping us to continue to educate our students. We are committed to keeping all of our faculty, staff, and students informed of the latest updates.

On July 28, there was a message from the Provost’s Office to the faculty regarding COVID preparations for the Fall Semester.  This was followed on August 2 with the message regarding updated face covering guidelines for all interior spaces.

We understand that these messages, combined with the ongoing rise of the COVID Delta variant, low regional vaccination rates, and modifications of CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines have raised concerns for many of you.  We want to assure you that the COSAM leadership believes that the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students are our highest priority. 

Regarding the face covering guidance, we all know that this is a situation that feels that we are moving backwards.  However, we strongly agree and endorse this policy change because face coverings are a well-established public health action that is highly effective at the mitigation of airborne pathogens.  We have all seen the signage on campus about the indoors face covering policy.  We are told that there will be staff stationed in high traffic areas with the responsibility to strongly encourage everyone to wear face coverings. 

For those teaching classes in Fall 2021, the face covering guidance should be treated as an addendum to classroom policies.  Persons who would like to include a mandatory face covering policy for the entirety of the Fall semester should add an explicit policy statement to their course syllabus.

Some recommended language, adapted from the Biggio Center website, can read:

“Auburn University permits individual faculty members to require face coverings in their classrooms, instructional laboratories, and offices. All students enrolled in this course are required to properly wear a face covering that covers the nose and mouth while inside the classroom, laboratory, faculty member offices, or group instructional spaces. Failure to comply with this requirement represents a potential Code of Student Conduct violation and may be reported as a non-academic violation. Please consult the Classroom Behavior Policy for additional details.”

Furthermore, we strongly urge the GTAs who are responsible for teaching our recitations and laboratories and the faculty that are the instructors of record to have an open and frank dialog about their mutual concerns. We also strongly recommend that laboratory and recitation sections that would like to include a mandatory face covering policy include that information in their syllabi. It is important for all faculty and TAs in COSAM to have input on this important matter for the classes they teach.  For all of our instructional personnel, if you have any concerns, please discuss them with your Department Chairs as soon as possible. 

Additionally, we know many staff have direct interactions with students. We understand that staff may also have concerns or questions about their work environments. We encourage staff to speak to their supervisors to address any issues. 

It is our sincere hope that this situation will improve in the weeks and months ahead.  However, we will need to closely monitor the public health situation and we will continue to convey your concerns to the university administration.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of us, your supervisor or your Department Chair.

 

Sincerely,

 

Nick Giordano

Ed Thomas

 

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