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COVID-19 and Ensuring Safe Classroom Behavior

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and CARE Team are dedicated to ensuring productive, safe classrooms for all students and instructors. 

The following guidelines were developed to help faculty members identify and respond appropriately to disruptive classroom behavior that could endanger the health of others. An informal conversation between the faculty and the student should de-escalate most situations. More egregious behaviors rising to threats of health and safety may require a formal intervention potentially involving the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, CARE Team and/or University Police (UPD). 

Remember that students have the right to a safe learning environment and that they will likely report non-compliant classrooms.

Step One: Proactive Steps to Set Classroom Expectations

  1. Add the University’s approved COVID-19 syllabus statement to your syllabus. Set out other expectations clearly in the course syllabus and review during class. (For example: Sit in your assigned seat. No eating or drinking in class. You must wear a mask in the classroom.)
  2. Discuss the University policy on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the classroom and explain why it is important that everyone complies so that we can continue to keep the campus open and classes in person.
  3. Ask the class to bring non-compliant students to your attention. State that class will not begin until everyone in attendance is in their assigned seat and following the guidelines for proper PPE use.
  4. Inform the class that if a student or student(s) fail to comply, you may have to call UPD to protect the safety of all students. Explain that non-compliant students will be reported to Student Conduct and may lose attendance or participation points if they are included in the class grade.
  5. Reinforce safety expectations throughout the class through ongoing announcements or reminders, particularly at key points in the course.

Step Two: Minor Disruptions

Examples include but are not limited to: failure to wear face masks; failure to utilize assigned seating; wearing face masks inconsistent with standards appropriate for an institution of higher education; failure to follow any COVID-19 policies; or attendance in class after an instructor has received notification of required quarantine.

  1. If you have been notified by the Provost’s Office that a student attending class should be in quarantine, discreetly ask the student to approach to a safe distance and then tell them that you received notification from the Provost’s Office that they are to be in quarantine. Explain that they will have to leave the classroom until they have received documentation clearing them to return.  Reassure the student that they will not be penalized for their absence and that you will ensure they can meet the course learning objectives remotely. If the student is unaware of their need to quarantine, please ask them to check their voicemail and MIX email account for their notification after they leave the classroom. If the student has further questions, they can contact Shared Services Center at 304-293-6006. If the student should refuse to leave the classroom, please refer to Major Disruptions below.
  2. Address the behavior or misconduct informally in a de-escalating manner, such as giving a general reminder about the specific behavior to the entire class or placing a mask on the student’s desk. Once a student complies, consider following up privately after class to reinforce expectations.
  3. If the behavior continues, publicly address the issue with the student and engage the class. Remind everyone present that you may be required to cancel class, report non-compliance to Student Conduct, and ask non-compliant individuals to leave if they do not comply.
    • Any follow-up with the student should be recorded internally. Dates of non-compliance and other details will be useful if you report behavior to Student Conduct.
  4. If the behavior continues, publicly address the issue with the student and engage the class. Remind everyone present that you may be required to cancel class, report non-compliance to Student Conduct, and ask non-compliant individuals to leave if they do not comply.
    • If the behavior continues, ask the student to leave the class, and refer the matter to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities ( see the Report COVID-19 Incident button). Student Conduct will investigate the matter further. Non-compliant students may be charged under the campus student code and will be sanctioned appropriately.
    • If the student refuses to leave or otherwise becomes confrontational, inform the student that continued behavior in that manner may require UPD at 304-293-COPS (2677) to be contacted and/or class canceled.
    • Allow some time for compliance; however, if the student does not comply after a reasonable time, contact UPD.
    • Provide Student Conduct with documentation of any previous attempts to address behavior and develop a plan for future class participation.

Step Three: Major Disruptions

Examples include but are not limited to: Repeated refusal to follow COVID-19 policies; confrontational behavior; physical threat or harassment; classroom disruption that prevents teaching from taking place.

  1. Remove student from classroom and  submit a COVID-19 Incident Report. If the student will not leave, call UPD and/or cancel class as appropriate.
  2. UPD should be contacted immediately if criminal or an imminent threat to the health and safety of anyone.
  3. If you are concerned about a student’s well-being, a referral should be made to the CARE Team.

For assistance or consultation contact:

Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; 304-293-801

CARE Team: 304-293-5611

University Police (UPD): 304-293-COPS (2677)