Fall 2020 Experience for Instructors / Researchers

Forward to Fall

Fall 2020 Experience for Instructors / Researchers

We’re looking forward to having a vibrant and active academic experience for our students this fall, with enhanced focus on health and safety so that all students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus can get the most out of their Nebraska experience.

Fall 2020 Experience For:  Students Employees


  • Facial Coverings — When on campus, all members of the university community — students, faculty, staff and visitors — are expected to wear facial coverings when indoors and when social distancing cannot be observed outside. Two masks will be provided to every student and university employee (See mask delivery plans). Instructors will be provided face shields upon request through their respective college. Read the entire UNL Face Covering Policy, which includes accommodations for individuals who need an alternative face covering.
  • Remote/Alternative Work Site — The university is offering alternative work arrangements to all employees. It includes options if you are at high risk, live with someone who is, or have additional concerns about contracting COVID-19. Learn more about this policy.
  • Administrative Leave — If needed, you can access an expanded administrative leave option due to COVID-19. The policy offers up to 160 hours to all university employees. Learn more about administrative leave and how to access it.

In the Classroom / Lab

  • Disinfection — Campus custodians are following enhanced cleaning and disinfection across campus, but instructors should also wipe down shared classroom surfaces and equipment before and after use. Disinfection supplies will be available in each instructional space and hand sanitizer stations are in position within building entryways. Following this protocol will help curtail possible exposure between instructors. Learn more about disinfection procedures. Masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizers and disinfectant can be ordered at no cost for the university community from UNL Marketplace. Bulk Plexiglas and custom Plexiglas dividers can be ordered at departmental cost through the COVID-19 Related Request form on Facilities Maintenance & Operations' website.
  • First Week — The first week of the fall 2020 semester (Aug. 17-21) will be remote asynchronous instruction only. It is important that course content be offered remotely and asynchronously as not all students will be on campus during this week. Recommendations on how to plan for opening week are available through the Center for Transformative Teaching.
  • Social Distancing — The university is creating seating maps that allow for greatest instruction space capacities while also observing the six-foot social distancing guideline. Chairs, desks and tables, or any other seating barrier, should not be repositioned within instruction spaces. The maps will be posted in each instruction space.
  • Assigned seating — Assigned seats are not required. However, in some larger instruction spaces, it might be beneficial to assign seats so students can quickly access their place without having to search for an available seat.
  • Missing a Test/Project Deadline — In order to avoid encouraging students to come to class when they are actively ill or potentially infected, you should offer students who are in quarantine/isolation opportunities to make up exams (in-person or remotely) or turn in projects.
  • Research Guidelines — If you are conducting research, you should follow all guidelines provided by the Office of Research and Economic Development. Learn more here.

Working on Campus

  • Academic Calendar — In an effort to limit virus spread, the fall 2020 academic calendar has been adjusted to run from Aug. 17 to Nov. 25. Review the entire calendar, including dates for final exams. Grading deadlines for the fall 2020 semester have been extended by one week, making Friday, December 11 the last day to turn in grades for any course.
  • No holidays/breaks — Due to the calendar adjustment, the university will be open on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and will not observe a fall break. Normally a holiday, Labor Day will count as a working day on campus. It will be added to leave-eligible employees’ floating holiday bank, allowing the university’s annual winter break (from late December to early January) to be extended by one day.
  • Facial coverings — To protect yourself, students, other employees and the greater Lincoln community, you are expected to wear a facial covering when working indoors on campus and when social distancing cannot be observed outside. Read the UNL Face Covering Policy.
  • Compliance — If you fail to abide by the university’s safety guidelines, you may be asked or directed to leave the campus. Individuals who fail to comply with the guidelines may also be taken off duty and/or subject to disciplinary action.
  • Looking Ahead — At this time, there is no identified tipping point that would cause the university to shutdown buildings and return to remote instruction. That decision — which would be announced to campus — will be based on regular reviews of virus data and in consultation with local and state health officials.
  • Online Training — You can access COVID-19 training regarding campus procedures, self-care, university operations and customer service procedures through the Environmental Health and Safety website. The online training sessions are 30-minutes long and include supplemental materials. A supplemental 2020 UNL Instructor Training has been created with a specific focus on in-person classroom instruction. The training is strongly recommended for instructors who will be teaching in-person courses this year.
  • Transition struggles — If you are struggling with the transition back to campus or know someone who is in distress, the university offers a number of support services. For employees, these include the Employee Assistance Program. Student support services include Big Red Resilience and Well-Being and Counseling and Psychological Services. Faculty and staff who work with students can also review assistance options outlined in the Big Red Folder.

Testing, Quarantine, Isolation and Contact Tracing

  • Testing availability — Testing for COVID-19 is available through the University Health Center and other local health care facilities. Additional testing options will be announced if necessary.
  • Exposure protocols — Exposure to COVID-19 is defined as having been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes while being less than 6 feet from the individual. The university is working with local health officials to finalize details on what to do if you are exposed to or become ill with COVID-19. These protocols — which will include information on testing, quarantine, isolation, contact tracing and notification within the campus community — will be announced.
  • Quarantine/Isolation — The university is working with local health officials to finalize details on quarantine/isolation procedures. These protocols will be announced. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of individuals who are exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Isolation separates sick individuals with a contagious disease from others who are not sick.
  • Length of Quarantine — If you are exposed to COVID-19, you should self-quarantine for 14 days. If symptoms present, seek medical consultation and self-isolate until advised by a medical professional that you can return to campus (generally at least 10 days following onset of symptoms and at least 72 hours since fever has ended, with no fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms are improving). You do not need a negative COVID-19 test to return to campus once quarantine has ended.
  • Identifying Positive Tests — Contact tracing protocols will identify and inform any students, colleagues, staff or others who may have been exposed. Per HIPPA privacy rules, your name will not be released.

Course Planning

  • Equipment availability — Not every instruction space offers video capture equipment. If necessary, instructors can contact their department chair to see if another space is available. Instructors have also had success recording lectures using a laptop and other devices. Also, the university is providing all instructors with specialized “windscreens” to cover classroom microphones. Windscreens should be available by request through your respective college.
  • Testing — The Digital Learning Commons will follow physical distancing guidelines, which reduces overall capacity of users at any one time. Instructors should plan accordingly and are encouraged to consult with the Center for Transformative Teaching about alternative assessment practices.
  • Video Transcripts and Closed Captioning — In terms of accessibility best practices, transcripts or closed captioning should be created for all videos you create. VidGrid offers ADA-compliant transcripts after recording. The Center for Transformative Teaching offers additional guidance on implementing inclusive excellence.
  • Course Efficiencies — Instructors who teach different sections of the same course are encouraged to collaborate and pool resources. This will free up time and allow instructors to integrate ways to enhance the teaching experience. Also, instructors who teach multiple sections of the same class can request a merge into a single Canvas course. This creates efficiencies and reduces the need to post the same materials multiple times.
  • Copyright Issues — As long as you are linking to or embedding publicly available materials, you do not need to get copyright approvals. However, if the material is copyright protected, you should work with the University Libraries to determine if sharing with a class is considered “fair use.” The library can also help obtain content that is shareable. Learn more on the Library website. Other content resources include TED-Ed videos, Coursera, HBR Video and the UNL Library.
  • Instructional Exemption Requests for Physical Distancing, Face Covering, and Enrollment Capacity - A few of our courses require activities that do not permit physical distancing, face coverings, and/or entail higher risk (e.g., veterinary or anatomical labs, dance, theatre, vocal music, etc.). If your unit is offering such a course this fall and would like to request an exemption, you can submit an Instructional Exemption Request, a specialized plan for review that outlines the alternative risk mitigation measures that will be followed. A Forward to Fall subgroup will review and provide suggestions to the plan, which will then route to the respective college dean and vice chancellor for final approval.

Student Interactions

  • Make Course Delivery Plans Clear — Instructors are encouraged to reach out to students as soon as they have determined delivery formats for their courses. For example: "Class will be a combination of in-person and remote, with half the class meeting on Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays. Additional details will be posted in Canvas during our first week of remote instruction."
  • Balance In-Person and Remote Instruction — While we are planning for in-person, on-campus instruction this fall, due to the unknown nature of the virus, instructors should plan to be flexible in how they deliver lessons to students. The Center for Transformative Teaching has information, training and documents that can help instructors plan for the semester. Instructional designers are also available to help develop course designs.
  • Small Group Work — Students should not move closer together for in-class projects for any period of time, unless a specific exemption (alternative protective measures) has been granted. Technology options that offer opportunities for collaborative instruction or projects include Canvas, Google and Office365. The Center for Transformative Teaching is offering workshops on best practices for facilitating group work.
  • Guidance Regarding Course Attendance and Engagement Expectations for Fall 2020 – Read the Faculty Senate-endorsed guidance for course attendance and engagement expectations.
  • Office Hours — Per university policy, all instructors are required to hold office hours weekly for students. The format can vary — from in-person to a virtual option. If held in-person, observe facial covering and social distancing guidelines. Instructors should give students a reason to attend office hours, including encouraging them to get to know you and what they can do to succeed.
  • Paper handouts are allowed — You can distribute/pick-up papers as needed as part of in-person instruction. Instructors can also consider having students take photos of their work/drawings and email/share them electronically.

More Information for Instructors / Researchers

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Since the beginning of this public health crisis, we’ve been answering your questions about how UNL is responding and planning. We’ve compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions on the FAQ / Contact Us page.