Spring 2022 instruction FAQ
April 27, 2022
If your class has not changed substantively from pre-pandemic practices (less than 25% of the contact hours in a class have changed), then no approvals are needed. If it has changed substantively (more than 25% of the contact hours in the class) then notify your department head. Your department head is then required to bring it to the Deans Council for review. Contact hours refer to in-person lectures, recitations, and lab work, as opposed to homework and study time.
MIT has resumed full academic activities on campus this year. Instructors unable to teach in person for their own medical reasons should contact the Disability Services Office to request an accommodation. Instructors seeking an exemption from in-person instruction for pedagogical reasons should contact their department head. A department head who supports the instructor’s request for remote instruction for pedagogical reasons should elevate the request to their dean, copying their assistant dean(s). The dean will share the request with Deans’ Council, which will make a decision, in consultation with the provost, with an eye toward fairness and consistency across the Institute.
Instructors should contact their department head, who will attempt to find an in-person replacement (for instance, another instructor or a teaching assistant). If an in-person replacement is not possible, the department head may choose temporarily to pivot the class to remote instruction. The department should alert the Covid-19 Class Notification and Support Team, which will be available to assist if the department leadership decides to make this temporary change.
MIT expects faculty to have a meaningful presence on campus, including participation in various department and lab activities. With that said, as was the case prior to the pandemic, department leadership has the ability to develop local solutions, with a commitment to fairness and consistency.
Students unable to attend class in person are encouraged to follow MIT’s standard process, with undergraduates contacting Student Support Services and graduate students contacting GradSupport. These offices will work with students and instructors to develop solutions similar to those in place before the pandemic to respond to student absences. Since Covid-positive students and unvaccinated close contacts will need to isolate or quarantine for 10 days, departments and instructors are encouraged to proactively develop plans for academic continuity in the event a class remains in person but several students are unable to attend. Flexibility will be key.
The instructor should contact the department head and the Covid-19 Class Notification and Support Team to determine a solution that is in the best interest of the entire class. The solution may include a temporary pivot to remote instruction or other measures.
In the event a student tests positive, MIT Medical and the Covid Support Team are notified. The Covid Support Team will work with DSL leadership, residential house teams*, school deans, department heads, advisors, PIs, and other key support resources as needed to ensure that the student has the appropriate supports in place. If any instructors or PIs themselves are identified as a close contact from an exposure, they will be notified by the positive individual, or through the contact tracing process.
Undergraduate students who test positive will be referred to Student Support Services, graduate students to GradSupport. With permission of the student, those offices will reach out to instructors to discuss what academic assistance the students require. And the Class Notification and Support Team will consult with instructors on how to provide teaching materials for students who are out sick. There is no expectation for instructors to adopt hybrid teaching.
*Residential house teams are given the name of the student who will be isolating.
MIT will continue to leverage the investment it has made in software—like Zoom, Panopto, Canvas, and Dropbox—and hardware since the start of the pandemic. IS&T has made iPads and loaner laptops available to all undergraduate students and to graduate students serving as teaching assistants. And we are working to provide a range of solutions to support the capture of classroom content for those students unable to attend in person.
In addition, students unable to attend class in person are encouraged to follow MIT’s standard process, with undergraduates contacting Student Support Services and graduate students contacting GradSupport. These offices will work with students and instructors to develop solutions similar to those in place before the pandemic to respond to student absences. There are a number of different ways faculty may assist. Students should not, however, expect instructors to simultaneously provide in-person and remote instruction.
Finally, the Office of Digital Learning and the Teaching and Learning Lab are available to assist and have developed resources and best practice guidelines.
For safety and capacity reasons, employees may not bring children to campus, except in rare cases when the employee is stopping by the office only briefly. Resources are available to support employees in need of backup child care. MIT encourages employees with young children to register proactively with Care.com.
All students or affiliates who wish to access campus must:
- Have a Kerberos account.
- Adhere to all guidance outlined on the Covid Apps site.
Students or affiliates
Students or affiliates who wish to attend or audit classes on campus must request a guest Kerberos account. Contact the department or organization sponsoring you to request a guest account. You can then access the Covid Pass feature in the MIT Atlas mobile app to access campus. Visit Covid Apps for more information.
Harvard students: Submit a petition through the my.harvard portal. Once the instructor approves your request, you’ll be enrolled automatically and will receive an email with an MIT ID number and Kerberos username. You can then access the Covid Pass feature in the MIT Atlas mobile app to access campus. Visit Covid Apps for more information.
Wellesley students: Submit your cross-registration paperwork to the MIT Registrar’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the registration staff create a registration profile for you, you can access the Covid Pass feature in the MIT Atlas mobile app to access campus. Visit Covid Apps for more information.
Technically, no. The Registrar’s Office policy regarding classroom use states that food and beverages are not allowed in classroom spaces.
No. The student’s name is private and cannot be shared by MIT without permission. Even then, MIT staff only share the name with those who have a need to know.
However, often the student, or Student Support Services or Grad Support (after obtaining the student’s permission), will reach out to their instructors shortly after they are notified to discuss arrangements for academic assistance.
MIT is committed to providing students with a fully in-person education for the 2021-2022 academic year, all while balancing the health and safety of the community, and being prepared should there be a significant number of positive Covid-19 cases.
With that in mind, if contact hours (defined as in-person lectures, recitations, and lab work, as opposed to homework and study time) have not changed substantively (less than 25% of the contact hours impacted), you do not need to seek any approvals.
If contact hours have changed substantively (more than 25% of the contact hours impacted), you must notify your department head, who will then bring the issue to the Deans Council for review.
Beyond this overarching principle, here are some additional scenarios you might find helpful:
- Can I maintain the same level of in-person interaction in my class but augment it with other materials? Yes. No approval is necessary.
- Can I use augmented materials in the case where a student/s may be out due to illness? Yes. No approval is necessary. You and/or the instructional team may want to consider whether these augmented materials will be made available to all students or only to students who have barriers for attending class. Keep in mind, instructors are under no obligation to offer recorded lecture materials.
- Is it okay to use a hybrid format so students can attend lectures (or not) for a whole semester? It depends. If the plan is for less than two semesters, the case must go through your department head to the Deans Council for consideration. If the plan is to go beyond two semesters, then it needs the approval of the Committee on Curricula and/or Committee on Graduate Programs.
- Can an instructor do a few lectures via Zoom (e.g., in the case to accommodate a guest speaker)? Yes. Additional approvals are not needed provided the 25% threshold (as outlined above) is met. Note: In the case where some/all of MIT instructors would need to pivot to remote learning, various policies would be revisited.
- Can an instructor have in-person lectures and Zoom recitations? Yes, provided these fall within the 25% threshold (as outlined above).
Additional Committee via Curricula (CoC) guidance is available on the Registrar’s Office website.
MIT is confident in the protocols it has established. Instructors who become uncomfortable teaching in the classroom may not unilaterally decide to move more than 25% of their contact hours to virtual instruction. If a change impacts more than 25% of the course’s contact hours, instructors should contact the Covid-19 Class Notification and Support Team, which will work with instructors, departments, and students with the dual aim of ensuring continuity and reducing anxiety. Solutions may include alternative teaching strategies, a change in room layout, or other measures.
Instructors should be advised that if they would like to hold a remote final exam during finals week this semester, they should:
- Schedule a final exam with the Schedules Office.
- Let the Schedules Office know that they will be offering the exam virtually.
- Let the Schedules Office know which of the following two options they will be using:
- Hold the exam during the scheduled time but remotely.
- Offer students a 24-hour window during which each student will choose a two- or three-hour block of time for doing their exam. This 24-hour window must include the registrar-scheduled time.
- Let students know as soon as possible, and both during class and in writing, how the final will be done.
You may write to email@example.com with any questions.