The first week of class is underway, and the feedback I have heard suggests that things have gone smoothly so far. Thanks to everyone for your work in making this happen. About twenty classes are meeting in-person this week, with all others being remote.
Overall, COVID case counts have been manageable so far. Cases among returning students are lower than we expected, and case counts among faculty and staff seem to be holding steady. Details are available on the COVID dashboard. Northampton County is seeing rapid declines in COVID cases, although hospitals are still under some stress due to increased numbers of patients and staffing shortages.
Given the current status, we will shift to in-person instruction next week as planned. As noted last week, faculty can monitor active cases in their classes via this link. Faculty should inform their classes and their TAs about the rate of active cases in the class weekly. If >30% of students have active cases, then you can move to remote instruction. If you choose this option, you must tell the students that you are doing this and you must inform your chair/dean of the change. Return to in-person instruction should occur within a class or two after active cases fall below the 30% threshold.
Next week, we will begin mandatory surveillance testing of the undergraduate and graduate student population, with 50% of students being selected for testing each week for four weeks. We may begin to see an increase in case numbers as a result of this testing, so please be sure to check your dashboard regularly for the status of your classes.
We do not want sick students in class. Discuss with your students the options that they have to continue to learn if they do get sick (with COVID or otherwise) and what you will expect from them. If a student is obviously sick, you can ask them to leave class, just as you can if a student refuses to wear a mask.
You might also consider checking in with your students as the semester progresses, as their struggles might not be obvious. An expression of care and concern from a faculty member can mean more to a student than you might realize.
Please take good care of yourselves as well. If you suspect you have COVID or test positive, contact Christine Wolfe (at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504 or Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org) to discuss your situation and get advice. We will have Vault testing available for faculty and staff starting next week. All faculty and staff testing positive should isolate for five days and not come to campus during that time. If you feel well enough to teach via Zoom during that period, you can do so, or you can make other arrangements for rescheduling class or finding a colleague to teach for you as you have done in the past.
Finally, I want to express my appreciation for your efforts to ensure high-quality learning experiences for our students. Teaching during a pandemic is not an easy task, particularly when switching from remote to in person and, when necessary, back again. I am thankful for your willingness to adapt to changing circumstances and support your students during what is certainly a challenging time for all.