This semester we will mark two years since our lives and our connections with our students were first disrupted by the pandemic. This email provides some guidance regarding how the Whiting School of Engineering will navigate the coming semester during the Omicron wave. We thank you again for your fortitude and offer our support as you continue to contribute to the mission of our school. Please do not hesitate to reach out with your questions or concerns.

Spring 2022 Instructional Modalities and Planning for Disruption

The Whiting School of Engineering will offer primarily in-person instructional opportunities for students in Spring 2022. Students have been informed that they are expected on campus. Of our course offerings, more than three-quarters will be fully in-person, 7% will be partly online, and 17% will be fully online. Even in online classes students may be required to be on campus for exams and other course requirements. As with prior semesters, COVID vaccine and booster mandates will be enforced, and all students will be tested regularly. We remain confident that instructional spaces occupied by vaccinated and boosted individuals wearing masks are not significant sites of transmission. Nonetheless, continuing spread of the Omicron variant is expected to cause a significant proportion (10-15%) of students to be sporadically unable to attend class in-person due to community transmission outside of classrooms. This will necessitate isolation of individuals to limit the spread of the virus. We also expect instructors may need to isolate due to symptoms indicative of COVID-19 or positive COVID tests. Instructors may also face family and childcare issues that disrupt their ability to be on campus. This situation has the potential to persist at least through mid-February. We need to prepare for these disruptions.

• We remind you that WSE instructors are expected to provide video recordings of all lecture material. These recordings may be live-capture of the class lecture or pre-recorded video content covering the same material. Recordings should be made available no later than the day on which the lecture is delivered. These video recordings will be particularly critical for supporting students in classes that are meeting in-person who are asked to self-isolate or, in the case of international students, may be delayed in arriving to campus at the start of the semester due to COVID-related travel issues. Discussions, labs, and other interactive course activities are not expected to be recorded. For help with classroom technology for video capture please contact KIT-CATS at [email protected] for general pool classroom and [email protected] if you are teaching in a departmentally controlled space.

• Please have a plan in case you need to self-isolate due to infection. We recommend that you work with your department’s director of undergraduate studies or director of graduate studies to determine a backup plan for your own teaching. Determining in advance that another faculty member has access to your course materials can provide some peace of mind and help mitigate this potentially stressful situation.

• If you experience a situation that prevents you from attending your in-person class (e.g., COVID-19 related symptoms, a positive COVID test, sickness of family members, or disruptions of a child’s school or day care), please talk to your department head, chair, or director about appropriate temporary accommodations for your teaching. Departmental leaders can approve teaching from home under such circumstances as they deem appropriate, or they may be able to help arrange coverage. WSE Instructional Support ([email protected]) can provide technical support for teaching from home and may be able to provide access to hardware that can make the experience better for you and your students.

Many of us are once again greeting the semester with an intense mixture of hope and anxiety. We are confident, however, that with strict adherence to the guidelines provided by our public health colleagues we will be able to connect with students once again in the classroom in ways crucial for their futures.

Sincerely,

Michael Falk, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education

Janet Weise, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Sri Sarma, Vice Dean for Graduate Education

Christine Kavanagh, Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Academic Affairs