COVID-19 AND FALL SEMESTER 2021: STUDENT ACCOMMODATIONS

Recent communications from President Diacon and the Pandemic Leadership Committee indicate that planning for Fall 2021 at Kent State University is well under way. During the past year, the Academic Continuity Committee (ACC) weighed in on issues that were and remain critical to the academic progress of our students and the success of our instructors. ACC is now considering the ongoing impact that COVID-19 will continue to have on students and instructors.

As President Diacon stated, our goal is to “approach a more normal level of operations in the fall semester with more in-person opportunities for living, learning and working.” We recognize that COVID-19 will continue to challenge us as we move forward. ACC plans to issue a series of statements on specific issues that are designed to assist our faculty and students to continue to be successful and thrive.

This statement focuses on the university’s commitment to student access and the important role of instructors. The following guidance is provided to clarify the roles of Student Accessibility Services (SAS), instructors and students in Fall 2021.

  • Students will be expected to attend their classes in the format that they select at registration. For example, if the course is scheduled to be delivered in person, the expectation is that students will attend in person. If the student is unable to do so, they should select an alternative section or course that meets the program requirement and is offered remotely or online.
  • Students must direct all requests for accommodations, including requests to attend classes remotely due to COVID-19 concerns, to Student Accessibility Services. SAS accommodations for a student to attend an in-person class via live stream or recording will be approved only with the instructor’s agreement. Contact information and forms are available on the SAS website.
  • Instructors who have students registered in their classes who seek an accommodation, including a request to attend a class remotely due to COVID-19 concerns, should direct the student to SAS for assistance with the request. Instructors are encouraged to include a clear statement on their syllabus that provides information to students about how to request an accommodation. Guidance for such a statement is available from SAS or your academic unit administrator.
  • Only instructors requesting to teach face to face or in any hybrid modality will be asked to teach in those formats. Instructors are not required to record class sessions in any instructional format. A remote option is not required in classes that are scheduled face to face.
  • Instructors will have made decisions about whether they were willing to teach face to face in Fall 2021 based on various university and individual assumptions (e.g., vaccination status, child care availability). If those assumptions are not realized at any point during the Fall semester, instructors initially assigned to teach face to face may opt to switch to remote instruction. See previous guidance from the Provost on how to prepare students for remote instruction when an instructor decides to move an in-person course to remote instruction.
  • Instructors who will be teaching remotely should review the Statement on Academic Freedom and Faculty Responsibilities in the Remote Teaching Environment for guidance on how to maintain a meaningful presence in the class.

ACC offers these basic principles and assumptions to remind students and instructors of our institutional commitment to student access. SAS will work closely with students and instructors to honor this commitment while respecting instructor choice in course delivery. Open communication between students, instructors and SAS will create an environment where all can succeed in exploring options to eliminate barriers in teaching and learning.