September 25, 2021

AAUP Update-RTCAT Responses and the Summer Professional Development Institute

Colleagues: 

After we held our full-time faculty meeting on July 21 the Executive Committee forwarded nine questions to the RTCAT Committee.  Below are the answers the Executive Committee received from the RTCAT to our questions.   If you were unable to attend the meeting and you would like to listen/watch the meeting, go to mcaaup.org, click on the July 14 update, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you will see a link to the recording of the meeting and the appropriate password. 

On behalf of the Chapter, I would like to extend our thanks to the members of the RTCAT who attended our July 21 meeting and to the entire team for providing us with a very timely response to our questions.

Faculty Questions Submitted to RTCAT with Responses

  1. Can we dismiss students who show signs of symptoms during class? What if the student refuses to leave the classroom?
    • Faculty who observes a student with clearly observable signs of illness that are uncharacteristic for that student or may be negatively impacting that student’s or other students’ performance should discretely speak with the student and advise the student to go home if they are ill. Remember to maintain confidentiality when speaking with others about a student’s health.\
    • Students who refuse to leave the classroom and appear to pose a disruption to class or a risk to the health and safety of other students should be reported through the appropriate channels for a possible Student Code of Conduct violation. If the student poses an immediate risk to the health and safety of others, please contact Public Safety.
    • The best guidance/advice to both students and employees is to stay home if you are sick and contact your primary care physician.
    • Everyone is required to take the Daily Health Assessment – anyone with visibly observable signs of the symptoms listed should stay home. Students should contact their instructor about any missed work, and instructors should be flexible regarding excused absences including providing students the ability to make-up missed work due to illness.
    • It is recommended that instructors link to the on-campus orientation training for students via their course Blackboard page to increase awareness and empower students to self-monitor their health.
    • Please keep in mind that a cough, sneezing, or other minor symptoms are not automatically indicators of Covid-19. A student could have allergies or another chronic condition.
    • There are existing guidelines from last year that are still valid and useful for these situations.
  2. Can a faculty member dismiss class if, during class, it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for Covid?
    • Should a student notify a faculty member, or an instructor become aware that a student in class has tested positive for Covid, the instructor should discretely have a conversation with the student. If confirmed, the instructor should announce that there has been a possible infection, dismiss class, immediately notify Public Safety, and use the course Blackboard site to announce any next steps or contingency plans.
    • The first priority is to maintain classroom safety.
    • There are existing guidelines from last year that are still valid for these situations.
    • Remember to always maintain confidentiality and not identify the individual who may have tested positive.
    • There may be cases where a student mentions they were with someone who tested positive. Do not panic. This does not automatically mean that student has been exposed. A general reminder to all students to take the Daily Health Assessment, monitor themselves for symptoms, and contact their health care provider if they have any concerns.
  3. Can faculty put up plexiglass in their office when meeting with students?
    • The RTCAT does not recommend that individual faculty install plexiglass themselves as it could pose a safety risk.
    • The use of plexiglass as a safety precaution will depend on the situation.
    • The use of plexiglass in a smaller, enclosed space may limit ventilation and air circulation.
    • The best defense is still wearing a mask. Faculty who chooses to do so may request and wear a face shield via their campus facilities office.
    • The RTCAT encourages faculty to use larger, more open spaces to meet with students should they feel uncomfortable.
  4. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?
    • Since the AAUP is a bargaining unit, it is not a good Labor Relations practice to specifically include unions at this level of discussion.
    • Since the RTCAT was meeting and working regularly over the summer, there was no ESH budgeted and no expectation that faculty would be expected to work over the summer.
    • There are multiple avenues for faculty involvement, especially as we get closer to the start of the semester and the resumption of governance activities.
    • Faculty are welcome and invited to submit questions and topics for discussion to the RTCAT, invite members of the RTCAT to attend meetings, and form committees with RTCAT representatives, if so desired, to assist in creating and vetting classroom guidelines.
  5. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?
    • Yes, MC will require vaccinations once the FDA has given full approval. Currently, there is only one appellate court case that has upheld a vaccine mandate at an institution of higher education.
    • Upon FDA approval, students and employees will have 60 days from the date of approval to get vaccinated to be on campus.
    • Discussions are currently underway on how the College will monitor and track vaccination status, possibly using a third-party vendor.
    • It is anticipated that vaccinations will be required in the spring, pending FDA approval.
    • We are also monitoring actions at the county level, including negotiations with county collective bargaining units on mandatory vaccines.
  6. What should we do to maintain social distance in the classroom? What do we do if the classroom does not allow us to maintain an appropriate 6 feet of distance in the classroom?
    • Currently, the College has suspended social distancing guidelines pursuant to county, state, and CDC guidelines.
    • The current best protection against the spread of Covid are vaccinations and masks. The College has reinstituted its mask mandate effective August 2. Each campus has an allotment of 5,000 cloth masks that will be distributed and available in classroom scheduled for use this fall.
    • Most in-person classes were scheduled this past spring with a cap of 12-14 students.
    • In situations where social distancing is not possible, masks and sanitizing are still effective protections. Students and instructors should avoid, when possible, congregating in large groups.
  7. What sorts of signage will be provided to promote public safety?
    • There will be a large array of signage in all buildings on all campuses reminding people to wear a mask, get vaccinated, and follow basic hygiene protocols.
    • The focus is primarily on county metrics, since most of our students are in-county residents; however, we do consider proximity to other jurisdictions and that data in making decisions. Please note that our decision-making authority is somewhat limited by what is happening in the county and any restrictions or flexibility that the county may put into place.
    • The College and the RTCAT examine county and regional metrics daily for changes and concerns.
    • While we do look at global trends, the CDC has recommended localized decision-making and local data in making decisions.
  8. How might the college provide return to campus guidelines unique to the classroom setting?
    • A dedicated Faculty FAQ is currently being developed with input from faculty and RTCAT.
    • There is a faculty-led group developing classroom guidelines consistent with all collegewide guidance.
    • Additionally, standardized syllabi template language is also being developed by faculty with input from RTCAT.

Summer Professional Development Institute:

Many of us participated in the Summer Professional Development Institute.  If you participated in the Institute and want to receive the $1,850 stipend, you need to submit an Action Plan that is reflective of your learning by August 15, 2021.  Below is an e-mail follow-up that we all received from Paul Miller on August 4 regarding this requirement. 

Thank you for your active participation in the Summer Professional Development Institute. 

Just a friendly reminder, you are required to submit an online Action Plan reflective of your learning at the end of your chosen Learning Pathway to be eligible for the Summer Institute Stipend. The Action Plan can be found by clicking on this link. The Action Plan should take you up to one hour to complete and is due on or before August 15, 2021. 

If you have already submitted your Action Plan, please disregard this email. 

The Action Plan contains three sections. An outline of the Action Plan is below – please do not reply to this email with your action plan included in the table. Once you submit your Action Plan through the web, an email will be sent to you to confirm receipt. 

Section  Purpose Questions Asked Note 
Personal Information What is your M#?  Include the M at the beginning of your number. 
Learning Pathway Which Learning Pathway did you participate in?

 

 
You will select one of the three learning pathways – Dialogue Circle, Series, or Workshop.   If you select the Workshop Learning Pathway, you will be asked to identify the sessions that you did and did not attend.  

How would you rate your Learning Pathway learning experience? You can select up to 5 stars (1 being the worst) 
SMART Goal and Action Plan What is your goal? Create a goal and action plan to apply the summer learning into your professional context. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be: Specific (simple, sensible, significant). Measurable (meaningful, motivating). Achievable (agreed, attainable). Realistic and Timely. 
What do you need to do to achieve your goal? Be as specific as possible. Focus on the things you can control. 
How will you identify your success? Be as specific as possible. What data can be collected to provide you with feedback on your desired outcome? 
By when do you need to complete the tasks identified in question 5? Be as specific as possible. Remember, this action plan is self-monitored. You are accountable to YOURSELF. 
What or who can help you complete your tasks identified in question 5? Be as specific as possible. Remember, you have a professional network and systems of support (e.g., deans, department chairs, ELITE, etc.)
What additional PD will you engage in to support your goal (PD topics should be chosen from the connections made in your Learning Pathway). Be as specific as possible. ELITE will use this information to identify new PD topics for the upcoming year. ELITE will evaluate all responses and generalize them into new topics or existing opportunities. 
Would you like for ELITE to contact you about your goal progress throughout the Fall semester? If you select yes, a member of the ELITE team will contact you throughout the fall to discuss your progress.  
Do you have another goal you would like to work on? If you select no, you can submit your responses, and you are done with the Action Plan.   If you select yes, you can repeat Section 3, and set up to two more goals reflective of your summer learning.  

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Dr. Paul D. Miller
Professional Development Director 
Montgomery College
Office of E-Learning, Innovation & Teaching Excellence (ELITE)
Mannakee Building #325J
Rockville, MD 20850
Cell: (717) 602-3304

As our summer vacation/work comes to a close, we are all making plans for a partial return to campus to teach, counsel, and advise our students.  It is important that we all take care of ourselves, both mentally and physically, during this continued unusual period in our MC lives.  We also need to remember how stressful this period of time has been and will continue to be for our students. Many have lost jobs, income, family members, and friends, and they are trying to figure out how they are going to continue being a student and take classes, whether they are remote or f2f.  If there was ever a time for us to be flexible, compassionate, and understanding with our students and our colleagues, now is the time.  Please don’t hesitate to refer students to a counselor if you feel a student is in need of assistance or to seek assistance for yourself.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

President-AAUP

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