orange status with students in a school; at home; in a hotel

We’re getting very close to the Thanksgiving break where you are prepared to teach remotely for the duration of the semester. However, many of you teaching in-person classes may be experiencing the unanticipated challenge of what to do with students who are not able to attend class because they are in quarantine. There are certainly many strategies you can use but in the interest of simplicity, we would like to highlight a few ideas here that hopefully will require minimal extra work on your part.

Our suggestions are formatted to consider first how you might address quarantined students, more generally. You may decide that it’s easier to accommodate the quarantined students asynchronously by creating materials for them to work on in lieu of attending class . Alternatively, you might create a pathway for them to attend your class synchronously in Zoom or WebEx. Each of these accommodations has its challenges, but we also recognize there are situations where it may be the best alternative.

Regardless of your class format, one simple option is to simply accommodate your absent students as you normally would pre-pandemic (e.g., sending lecture notes, meeting with them during office hours, etc.). Another is to hold a separate class session for your quarantined students. If these options don’t appeal to you, here are a few other ideas:

Providing Asynchronous Accommodations

It may be that you only have a handful of students in quarantine and would rather think of ways for them to continue on with the course without needing to attend class. In this situation, we’ve come up with a handful of strategies to keep these students on track. In some cases, you might find that the activities are suitable replacements for the whole class.

Lecture-based courses

  • Have your students attending your in-class lecture produce something for the students who are unable to attend. Ideas might be to divide students into smaller groups and assign them chunks of the lecture. They can create collaborative notes, videos, or presentations for the students unable to attend class.
  • Record your lecture in advance so quarantined students can watch it on their own time. Consider making it more interactive with software that builds in interactive questions that they are prompted to answer as they watch (e.g., Kaltura, VoiceThread)

Discussion-based courses

  • Use an alternative technology-based discussion tool (e.g., Slack, Canvas discussions, VoiceThread, Hypothesis) and have quarantined students discuss as they would in-class. This is also one of those options where you may decide to shift the whole class to this asynchronous activity.
  • Hold the discussion with in-person students during regularly-scheduled class time and record that discussion for sick and quarantined students. Post the recording to Canvas so they can watch on their own time. Consider how you might have them contribute to the discussion after watching.

Group activity-based courses

  • Assign in-person group work during regularly-scheduled class time. Place your quarantined students into a group (or groups) together and have them work together on the same activities in Zoom on their own time. Have them record their group work and submit to you.
  • Assign in-person group work during regularly-scheduled class time and record the work of one group for your sick and quarantined students.

Providing Synchronous Accommodations

It may be the case that you want to include your quarantined students in your in-person class via Zoom. We want to caution that this option is challenging because there are often issues with sound quality and students at home not being able to hear what’s happening in the classroom. Additionally, it’s difficult to attend to those in Zoom and also your in-class students. That being said, if this is the most appropriate accommodation for your situation, here are a few ideas:

Lecture-based courses

  • Lecture to your in-person students during your regularly-scheduled class time and stream the lecture to quarantined students over Zoom at the same time. Be sure to assign an in-person student to monitor the Zoom chat. Record the Zoom session for sick students. Consider how you might engage students, in-person and in Zoom, during the lecture with activities such as polls, breakout rooms, or reflective writing.

Discussion-based courses

  • Hold the discussion with in-person students during regularly-scheduled class time and have the quarantined students join discussion via Zoom at the same time. Think about ways to engage the quarantined students with the in-person students. Record the discussion for sick students.
  • Have your in-person students bring their laptops to class and hold the discussion with all students on Zoom (in-person and quarantined students). Be sure that students mute when they are not talking to avoid feedback. Record the Zoom discussion for sick students.

Group activity-based courses

  • Assign the in-person group work during regularly-scheduled class time. The quarantined students join the class and participate in the group work via Zoom. For the activities, the in-person students participate together and the quarantined participate with one another on Zoom. Record the Zoom session for sick students.

These are only a few ideas. If you’re struggling with how to accommodate students in quarantine, feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation with one of us to brainstorm.




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