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H1N1 Classroom Preparation

Given the prospect of an H1N1 flu outbreak, the Center for Teaching and Learning encourages faculty to give special consideration to structuring their classes in ways that could minimize flu-related disruptions. Below is a list of suggestions:

Use Blackboard or Moodle to manage your classes online.

Such technology can allow you to post work and collect assignments electronically, thus making it easier for class to continue even if large numbers of students are absent or if you yourself are limited by illness. If you’ve never used Blackboard or Moodle, don’t worry.  Instructional Technologist Marie Wager is willing to sit down with you on an individualized basis—before or during the semester—to work through your technology needs. Center for Teaching and Learning Director Dave Kaszuba, meanwhile, can provide guidance on developing or modifying course content that is particularly suited for online learning.  E-mail wagnerm@susqu.edu or kaszuba@susqu.edu for assistance.

Create electronic mailing lists so you can reach your students quickly.

Many faculty members, of course, might prefer not to use Blackboard or Moodle.  In such cases, faculty should at the very least consider creating an electronic mailing list for each of their classes. That way, an email can easily be sent to students, en masse, with last-minute class announcements or instructions that might be necessitated by a flu outbreak.  E-mail lists can be created using the Tools/Address Book function in Microsoft Outlook.  E-mail address lists can also be made following the instructions at the bottom of each class roster on the registrar’s page.  For help with e-mail lists, contact Marie Wagner (wagnerm@susqu.edu).

Address flu contingency plans in your syllabi.

While you might not know exactly how you’d respond to widespread, flu-related absenteeism, you could at least use your syllabus to tell students how you would inform them of class cancellations or modified assignment deadlines. 

Post material to e-Res well in advance.

If reserved reading material is posted on eRes, students will be able to access it whenever, from wherever—regardless of whether they’re able to attend class.  To make sure that reading assignments are available even if you yourself fall ill, consider giving all such materials to the e-Res circulation assistant (Stephanie Thomas, thomassteph@susqu.edu) as early in the semester as possible.

Make assignments due earlier than usual.

By moving up the due dates of most assignments, even by a few days, you’ll gain the flexibility to grant a classwide extension (if needed) without severely impacting the rest of your projected semester timeline.

Be prepared for student requests to make up work.

While there’s no way now to know exactly how you’d respond to each and every request, some forethought now can help in forging an eventual plan that treats students as equitably and fairly as possible. 

Utilize the expertise of faculty colleagues.

Many SU faculty members have taught online summer courses over the past few years.  Seek out such people in your department or school to ask them about the feasibility of any online assignments or exams that you may be forced to consider. Similarly, colleagues who’ve used Blackboard or Moodle can be a valuable source of advice if you’re mulling either of those online platforms. 

Refer students to the health center.

If students display flu-like symptoms in class, please ask them to leave class rather than risk a worsening illness or the contamination of classmates. If possible, direct them to a location in the building where they may obtain a mask (such as an academic assistant) and have them call the health center at 372-4385 for assessment and instructions.

Finally, here are some links that might prove useful:
Susquehanna University Health Center  
Susquehanna University Web content about H1N1
Susquehanna University Electronic Campus Bulletin Board

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Inside Higher Ed article: Teaching the Quarantined
Inside Higher Ed article: H1N1 Scenarios http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/21/h1n1

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