Faculty Spring 2022 FAQ


What steps should faculty take if they choose to require masks in classrooms and instructional spaces?

Faculty have the choice to require masks in their classrooms/instructional spaces for the spring 2022 semester. Faculty need to post this mask requirement to their syllabus and in Canvas at the beginning of the semester and complete this brief survey that will produce an email to the faculty member with the standard language to be used. Additional masks can be obtained within each school from these contacts within the schools if faculty request them.

How do faculty enforce the mask requirement in their classes if they choose to require masks?

You can pick up additional masks through your dean’s office contact. If a student does not wear a mask and you have made the written policy clear in your Canvas syllabus and announcements, you need to first make a verbal request for them to wear a mask. If they continue not to comply, you can ask them to leave class that day and arrange a time to meet with you and/or the chair or associate dean prior to the next class. You should then report the situation to the department chair, who will work with you and, if necessary, with the dean’s office and Provost Office, to provide further direction. Please note that you can add a professionalism grade tied to compliance to your classroom mask policy; however, you cannot add this grade requirement after the start of the term.   

How will extra masks be provided?

Each School/College has a designated contact person who can tell you how to obtain masks in your area.

If one of my students has a medical condition which prevents them from wearing a mask for extended periods of time, how do they seek an exception if I am requiring it in my classroom?

Students who indicate a medical reason for not wearing a mask must go through the DASS Office for accommodations. Until they have DASS Office approval, which would be communicated to you in the same protocol as all DASS accommodations, they are required to comply with your classroom mask requirement. Faculty should not independently grant accommodations to students or exceptions for mask wearing based on a medical reason.

Can I require masks during office hours with students?

You can request that individuals wear a mask in offices, or arrange to host office hours in a larger space, including outdoors, during regular weekly office hours. You may also offer to meet virtually via Zoom for students who refuse to wear a mask or you can meet via Zoom outside of regular office hours. 

Do graduate or professional programs have different mask or vaccine requirements than the undergraduate programs?

Graduate and professional programs are under the same parameters as undergraduate programs within the umbrella of the university guidelines, so the parameters are the same across programs.

Attendance expectations and academic continuity

Do I need to record my classes?

You are required to provide academic continuity. In most cases, recordings are the primary avenue for academic continuity in your area. However, each School or College dean has submitted a list of courses (or course types) that have clear alternative academic continuity plans. If you believe your class (or class type) is on this list, you should contact your chair or associate dean for confirmation. Otherwise, yes, you need to make the recordings available to affected students with these guidelines:

  • Record your classes for one week or until the student is able to return to class.
  • Start recording (or activate the alternative continuity plans), starting either from the date of any direct communication from your student, or from the date you receive a Faculty Notification letter that a student in your course has tested positive.
  • We recommend that you add the following statement to your communications with the student who receives a recording: “Students are prohibited from posting the lecture recordings of in-person classes or syllabi to any external sites.”
Do I have to teach in the “Flex” mode and stand at the podium?

You can continue to teach based on your pedagogical approach. The goal of recordings (and other academic continuity plans) is to provide flexibility and reasonable access to students who cannot be present because of a documented COVID-related illness. This does not require a shift in pedagogy to podium-based instruction. You could, for example, create a solo Zoom (just the faculty member and the camera and microphone) to record the class. This would create a recording that would be shared automatically after the class. Additionally, you could also turn off the camera and create an audio-only lecture that would automatically be uploaded to Panopto. This technology is in place and working today. Additional options for providing this flexibility to augment the required recording can be found at this reminder prepared by CTE.

Who should I contact if I am not familiar with these technology options?

To discuss available options for audio and video recording, please contact the OIT Help Desk or contact your school’s ATSD (listed here) so we can help determine technology options that meet the need.

What guidance is in place if students in my class test positive for COVID-19?

You will receive a Faculty Notification Letter through email from Associate Provost Sheri Kunovich, who works with the Dean of Students and the Health Center to ensure that faculty are notified when they have a student who tests positive for COVID-19. This will provide you with more detailed information about options, including clear directions to work closely with your associate dean to have your questions answered or to develop options.

What if I need to quarantine or isolate?

Faculty should report a positive test case to the employee reporting portal here. The option of taking the class to Zoom temporarily must first be cleared through the dean’s office by contacting the associate dean within each School/College. The associate deans can choose to consult with the chairs in making a determination. Options will vary depending on the situation (e.g., arranging for a substitute; arranging for an in-class facilitator, shifting temporarily to Zoom, etc.). The Associate Deans of each School/College report all temporary shifts to Zoom to covidfacultyrequest@smu.edu.

What if I have a significant proportion of students in a class who need to isolate or quarantine?

You need to work directly with your associate dean to agree on the best plan for possible scenarios. As in all cases, if a temporary shift to Zoom is decided upon, the associate dean must send notification to covidfacultyrequest@smu.edu.

How do I request additional accommodations for other concerns not addressed above?

As with the previous semesters, faculty with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation on the basis of a disability through the Office of Institutional Access and Equity as outlined in the Needs of Persons with Disabilities Policy (3.2):  https://www.smu.edu/IAE. All other quarantine and/or isolation issues due to a positive COVID test or a potentially positive COVID test by either the faculty or a member of the faculty’s household will be managed by the Dean’s Office as described above for temporary solutions.

What if an exam is scheduled during a time period when students need to isolate or quarantine?

This situation may require alternatives for any in-person tests that were scheduled to take place during their period of quarantine or isolation. We ask that you maintain flexibility with the student to help them complete all assignments and exams on their originally scheduled date, assuming that the student is feeling well enough and you are able to find a remote solution.

Remote or virtual options

Can faculty teach virtually for the spring term or the start of the spring term?

Based on SMU’s accreditation status, we are a primarily in-person, on-campus university. Only those programs and classes previously approved for online delivery will be allowed to remain in the online format (e.g., OMBA, Masters in Data Science, etc.).  Faculty with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation on the basis of a disability through the Office of Institutional Access and Equity as outlined in the Needs of Persons with Disabilities Policy (3.2):  https://www.smu.edu/IAE

I have undergraduate students who are requesting to take my class virtually. What are my options?

You may allow an undergraduate student to attend synchronously via Zoom for a few class periods if they need to be in Covid-related quarantine or isolation, but you are not required to do so. If any undergraduate student requests to remain on Zoom for longer than a typical isolation or quarantine period, you need to submit a CCC form so that our student support team can reach out to them.

I have graduate students who are requesting to take my class virtually. What are my options?

Contact your dean’s office and contact person for clarification about how your School/College is approaching exemptions for graduate students based on medical or other extenuating circumstances.

May I hold all of my office hours exclusively on Zoom?

We want our students to have an opportunity for in-person office hours. If you request mask wearing in your office and students do not comply, you can move the office hours to Zoom. Also, for additional office hours, Zoom is an option.

Changes in the virus and the University’s response/other questions

What are the plans if case numbers continue to rise? How will the SMU community know about any changes in plans?

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) meets every week to review information from all campus units, including risk management, academic affairs, student affairs, development and external affairs, legal affairs, etc. They review ongoing changes in the pandemic, including Dallas county, city, state, and local case numbers, hospitalization reports, and vaccination status; SMU community case numbers and self-reported vaccination numbers; governmental orders; federal, state, and local compliance requirements; and student/faculty/staff feedback. Any changes to operations will be announced via email and through the Mustang Strong website.

After reviewing all of this information, if I still have questions, to whom should I reach out?

You can submit any additional questions here.

SMU fall 2021 COVID-19 guidelines

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

SMU looks forward to welcoming students, faculty and staff for the upcoming fall academic semester next month. Preparations continue for a safe return to regular operations, in-person instruction and full campus activities. However, it is important to balance the desire to embrace a traditional college setting with the need to maintain healthy behaviors to keep the virus spread under control.  

Faculty may require masks

Masks will not be required at SMU for fall 2021, with a few exceptions. Individuals will continue to have the option to wear a mask anywhere and at any time on campus if they choose.

After reviewing the latest guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, as well as input from the University’s Emergency Operations Center, SMU’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the President’s Executive Council, SMU will allow faculty members to seek an exception to the campus no-mask policy in their classrooms through a process that includes advance notice to their department chairs, deans and the provost’s office. Instructors must clearly define their classroom mask requirements and how they will be enforced in the course syllabuses prior to the start of classes. The provost’s office will provide more details on the classroom mask exception in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and public transportation to campus operated by DART may still require masks to comply with local and federal regulations. 

Vaccinations encouraged

More than 161 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States. Texas Health and Human Services reports that almost 60% of the state population and more than half of Dallas County residents have received the vaccine. Residence Life and Student Housing recently surveyed new and returning students who will live in University-owned housing in the fall. Of the 80% who responded to the survey, more than 84% self-reported that they are fully or partially vaccinated, or intend to be vaccinated soon.

SMU continues to strongly encourage, but not require, members of the campus community to get vaccinated and is making it convenient to receive the vaccine or get tested for COVID-19 on campus. Vaccination continues to be the most effective measure an individual can take to keep learning and working without disruption or illness.

Vaccines and testing reminders

While the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, including against the emerging variants, breakthrough cases are expected. Evidence indicates that vaccinations may make the illness less severe, less likely to require hospitalization and harder to spread. COVID-19 vaccinations are available at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center for current and incoming students, and for SMU employees and their eligible spouse/dependents. Book an appointment through the health portal or by calling 214-768-2141 (Option 1). After receiving the vaccine, please record your status in the voluntary vaccination reporting tool. 

The health center also provides COVID-19 testing for students and employees, but appointments are required, so call first at 214-768-2141 to schedule one. Employees also can receive a test at any DFW area Virtual Care for Families location. 

Contact tracing and case reporting

Contact tracing will continue at SMU this fall, and individuals who contract COVID-19 will be asked to identify their close contacts. Campus community members who test positive or are close contacts of a positive case must report that information through the SMU Health Reporting form for employees or the CCC form for students.  Remember that a person is not considered a close contact if they are fully vaccinated. Quarantine will be required for those who are unvaccinated should they be exposed to the virus.

Take preventive measures

SMU continues to place the highest priority on the health and well-being of our campus community and expects everyone to practice good preventive hygiene and regularly monitor their health.

For more information, please continue to check the Mustang Strong website or scan the QR Code on signs posted at the entrances of campus buildings.

COVID-19 reminders for July term

As SMU moves into Summer Session II (July term), it’s important to maintain a healthy campus by diligently following SMU’s current COVID-19 protocols.

Here are some reminders.

  • Masks may be required by faculty in their classrooms. Instructors will notify students prior to the start of class in their course syllabus. A decision about mask requirements for fall will be made within the next few weeks.
  • For more information, please check the Mustang Strong website or scan the QR Code on signs posted at the entrances of campus buildings.