TL; DR: For IAP 2022 plan to have robust continuity plans for for-credit courses; the Classroom Support Team will work with instructors, departments, and students to provide resources; classroom notifications of positives will shift; MIT’s current testing, attestation, and building access policies will remain in place throughout IAP.
Dear Faculty and Instructors,
As you read in the recent letter to the MIT community, in light of the Omicron variant, which is significantly more transmissible than Delta, we will likely have high numbers of individuals during IAP who will not be able to attend class in person. We are writing to ask instructors teaching for-credit subjects during IAP to develop an academic continuity plan (for their students and instructional team) that is robust to this likely scenario.
Our recommendations have been discussed with and are supported by the faculty officers, CoC, CUP and CGP chairs, the Classroom Support Team, and the Covid Monitoring and Decision Teams. These recommendations have also been shared with the deans. Given that we are entering the winter break this week, we encourage instructors to consider the simplest possible solutions, as we do not want to add any more than necessary to already heavy workloads or to create work burdens during the break.
Keep in mind: Students who are taking for-credit academic classes that are important for their academic progression; participating in research and internships, athletics, and professional development activities; or who otherwise would not have appropriate living or learning environments, are invited to return in January for IAP. We expect that, as in previous years, residential density will be reduced by 40-50% because not all students choose to be on campus for IAP.
Please note, relative to the Arrival, Testing & The Quiet Period (e.g., students who test negative and come back to campus will need to observe a “quiet period”) outlined in the undergraduate letter, all classes and DLC activities can proceed starting on January 3rd. The quiet period is intended for student events and gatherings.
For credit-bearing classes, prior to the start of IAP, instructors should:
Consider the pros and cons of whether switching to online, synchronous instruction, e.g. via Zoom, can still achieve the essential learning objectives. If you are making a change, please share your plans ASAP with faculty governance by completing the form here.
Develop ways for students unable to attend an in-person class to have access to academic materials, and communicate in a clear and prominent way how students should access these materials. For advice and resources, visit: https://tll.mit.edu/resources-for-iap-2022/
Identify alternative faculty or instructors to cover classes in the event that you or another member of the team needs to be out.
Decide and announce if exams will be held in person and/or remote (and whether options will be available as needed for individual cases).
(We have highlighted relevant policy and procedures at the end of this email.)
Support & Resources
Both of us and the Covid-19 Classroom Support Team will work with instructors, departments, and students to make it as easy as possible to ensure academic continuity during IAP 2022. For students who are isolating and enrolled in an in-person class, there are resources instructors can use to capture classroom experiences, including light-lift technology solutions (e.g., using an iPad, your laptop, and dedicated classrooms) for live streaming and online synchronous viewing. Sharing materials such as lecture notes and classroom recording of audio / video are also possible options for support.
In addition, the Registrar’s Office is ready to support instructors who are interested in automated lecture capture but do not have recording capability in their current assigned room. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP to review options.
For more information about continuity solutions and more detailed policy updates, visit: https://tll.mit.edu/resources-for-iap-2022/.
We also recognize that some instructors may need additional support, e.g., to provide assistance to students who are isolating or if they or their TA tests positive. The department heads, deans, and the provost are committed to providing such help. For assistance, instructors should first start at the department level; department heads will then work with deans to address any needs.
Managing the Classroom
With our high community vaccination rates, masking remains a very effective mitigation practice in our classrooms and lab settings. To provide additional protection, we are pausing the one mask down at a time rule when instructing, engaging in classroom discussion, or speaking at an event. At this stage of the pandemic, it is better to have two masks between everyone and continue our no food in classroom policies (other than quick sips of drinks).
Because our knowledge of class enrollments during IAP is more uncertain than during the regular term, and given the likelihood of a higher number of positive cases on campus, we think that automated notification of positive cases to instructors may lead to confusion. Therefore, we will discontinue our classroom notification system (i.e., instructors will no longer receive auto notifications if there is a positive case in a given class). Instructors, as always, should contact the support teams at S3 and GradSupport if they have questions about any particular student.
Please remember that neither students nor instructors should attend class if they feel sick or have symptoms associated with Covid-19. Our current testing, attestation, and building access policies will remain in place throughout IAP. We recommend that instructors clearly state at the top of their syllabus / Canvas site what students should do if they are sick and cannot attend class, or if they are asked to quarantine or isolate. We ask you all to be as flexible as possible with students during IAP 2022; to give anyone who cannot attend class the benefit of the doubt; and to endeavor to help them with alternative arrangements for assignments, exams, and finals.
We hope the resources we already have in place, along with the excellent teams from the Registrar, TLL, Open Learning, IS&T, and other units, will make academic continuity as easy and straightforward as possible. Thank you for all you do to make MIT’s academic and research mission possible, and let us know if there is anything we can do to support your preparation for IAP.
Lily and Ian
Lily L. Tsai
Chair of the Faculty and Ford Professor of Political Science
Ian A. Waitz
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Approval for changes to IAP subjects. The process we used during the fall semester for changes to subjects will remain in effect:
If you are making a change, please share your plans ASAP with faculty governance by completing the form here.
Heather Williams in the Provost’s Office will forward any requests to CoC and CGP for rapid review. For IAP only, CoC and CGP will give blanket approval for subjects that are in person or online synchronous. Any other proposed changes will be reviewed to ensure that there is meaningful real-time interaction with instructors.
Exams during IAP. Instructors are encouraged to hold exams remotely when possible and in person (as needed). For students who cannot take their exam in person, the existing guidance for make-up and conflict exams will apply.
Spring semester planning. These guidelines are for IAP courses only. We are continuing to plan for an in-person spring semester and will keep instructors up to date.