Dear Faculty,
Today I am reminded of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. In the midst of fear, grief, physical devastation, and economic turbulence we witnessed incredible bravery, selflessness, and compassion. Some called it the “defining event of our time.” Today, we find ourselves in the midst of another defining event, and we have again witnessed the very best of ourselves emerging in service to others. I hope you will take a few moments today to reflect on the value and significance of your service to our students and to our community. I appreciate all you do to make UVM and your larger communities stronger.

I am writing to share some important information that I hope will be helpful as the fall semester unfolds.

  • Our first several weeks on campus have been successful, but we must not become complacent in our health and safety efforts. A reminder of the following actions that will support classroom health and safety:
    • Faculty should wear a mask while lecturing or presenting
    • Faculty and students should adhere to the adjusted classroom limits and layouts and make no changes to the configuration of classrooms
    • If faculty cannot maintain a 6-foot distance from a student (for instance, to review a student’s work), they should maintain as much space as possible and minimize time in close proximity
    • Faculty and students should use hand sanitizer before and after class
    • Faculty should use alcohol wipes to disinfect shared electronic tools and other touch points before and after class – these are available on the instructor desk/podium and are not the same as the disinfecting wipes in the wall dispensers
    • Students should maintain 6-foot distancing as they enter and exit the classroom and access hand sanitizer and wipes
    • Students should disinfect their desktops and seats before class; there are disinfecting wipes available at the entrance of each classroom; deposit used wipes in the trash bin
    • Eating and drinking are prohibited in class as they interfere with masking
    • Report empty wipes containers and hand sanitizers to Service Operations Support at or 656-2560
  • What can you do if you’re concerned about a student academically?
    • You can refer students to the Tutoring Center
    • You can refer students to the Undergraduate Writing Center
    • You can encourage students to use the “find a study buddy” feature in Navigate
    • You can issue an early warning through the Academic Alert system. Academic Alerts can be used to communicate concerns around attendance, class preparation, classroom behavior, incomplete assignments, and poor grades. Faculty can easily generate warning letters by clicking on “Update” in the “Academic Alert” column on the class roster, which you can access via the MyUVM portal at Faculty can then add notes to the generated letter to give the student and their academic advisor(s) additional information on specific faculty concerns.
  • Navigate is the university’s academic advising software platform. The Navigate mobile app can be especially useful to students by helping them discover and access university resources, engage in campus activities, explore majors and careers, and remember tasks and deadlines. Please encourage your first-time first-year student to download the Navigate app. More information about Navigate for academic advisors can be found here.
  • The chat function in Microsoft Teams should be considered an extension of the classroom and should remain focused on the content of the class. If a student posts inappropriately, you should treat it as you would any other student disruption in the classroom: address it in the moment, follow-up with the student to clarify expectations, and send the student an e-mail to document and confirm your expectations.
  • On-campus space is available for in-person exams the weeks of Oct 5 and 12 and Nov 9 and 16.  The space is located on Athletic Campus and will offer the opportunity for in-person, proctored “hour” (in-class) exams. Information on scheduling the exam space for your class will be available soon.
  • As described in my memo of August 28, we have temporarily suspended all out-of-state academic visitors, both domestic and international, to campus for the fall 2020 semester. Exception requests for campus access by non-UVM researchers engaged in ongoing research collaborations should be submitted to the Vice President for Research Kirk Dombrowski. All other visitor exception requests should be submitted to Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs Jim Vigoreaux.
  • A reminder that all academic special events should be conducted virtually this semester unless they are for instructional purposes and have been approved by the UVMStrong health and safety team.
  • The UVMStrong Faculty and Academic Affairs working group has begun planning for spring semester 2021. By the end of the month we’ll have more information to share on the spring academic calendar and course modalities.

This week’s student COVID-19 test results reflect a more than 99.94% negativity rate. While results continue to be good, as the semester unfolds we may find that students will be absent from class as a result of quarantine or isolation requirements. We ask that you emphasize engagement, not attendance this semester and that you provide alternatives when students cannot attend in-person. Please recognize our students for the part they have played to “make fall happen” through their positive response to the requirements of a safe and healthy campus. Your reinforcement and encouragement have a powerful impact on our students. As we end this second week of the fall semester, I thank you for all of your work to create meaningful educational experiences for our students under these challenging circumstances.



Patricia Prelock, Provost and Sr. VP