Flexibility in the classroom

September 2, 2020

This message was sent to graduate students and faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dear Faculty and Teaching Assistants,

As we move into the second week of the fall semester, I want to reinforce the importance of flexibility, patience, understanding, and compassion in the classroom this semester. All faculty and graduate students have access to a new and optional short nine-minute webinar, Flexibility in the Classroom within the Faculty Success Series course shell (or the Graduate Student Success Series, as appropriate). Besides messaging from me, this webinar includes short messages from eight of our ASUN student leaders. I hope you will take the short nine minutes to watch this video.

It is University policy, based upon local, state, and national health guidelines, that all students, faculty, and staff must stay home or go home if they feel ill. If they are experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms, they should be tested. It is important to remember that none of these are considered a “disability” and do not require that students seek Disability Resource Center Accommodations.  

Faculty are expected to work with students directly to academically accommodate their absence(s) by assigning them remote attendance (for which over 90% of courses have this modality option) and/or make up opportunities. If extended absences or illness make this academically infeasible please work with the student, your department chair, and their advisor to support the student as much as possible to minimize impacts on their degree progression.

For the health and well-being of those around you, students should not report to class or faculty to work if they are experiencing any of the symptoms below that cannot be attributed to an unrelated health condition.

  • Fever of 100.4
  • Chills
  • Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (excluding symptoms from a previous condition)
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose,
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Have you been in close proximity to, or had physical contact in the past 14 days, with an individual who has tested positive or is suspected to be positive for COVID-19?
  • Have you been told to quarantine or self-isolate by a physician or government agent due to COVID-19?

The Student Health Center has a daily COVID-19 testing clinic accessible by making an appointment. The clinic provides testing for active COVID-19 infections and is available at no charge to University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty and staff who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been identified as a contact of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. It is reasonable for you to request documentation of testing or other doctor notes from a student. However, a negative result does not mean that you do not need to academically accommodate a student, or that only partial credit should be given for an assignment. For the health and safety of everyone on campus, we should do all that we can to support responsible students who “Stay Home for Nevada.” If you have concerns that a student is trying to take advantage of the circumstances, please work first with your department chair who may reach out to your Dean or the Provost’s Office for further assistance. We will assist in coordinating with Student Services.

And finally, just a reminder that class times have been reduced by five minutes to minimize student contact between classes and allow for sanitizing protocols. By using the University Testing Center or other testing options, you can recover these additional minutes.    


Jill S. Heaton
Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs
Professor, Geography