Classroom Safety Guidelines

Exposure and Quarantine

Notification of a Positive Case of COVID-19

If a student informs you they must miss in-person class because of a positive test or that as a close contact they have been instructed to isolate or quarantine, please support them in following the guidance provided to them by their healthcare professional. Vaccinated individuals who have a possible expsure to a positive case do not need to quarantine if they have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Instructors set the attendance policies for their classes. Students are expected to reach out to you as the instructor to make arrangements for staying on track in the class and with any examinations. Instructors are not expected to create a full online version of their course for students who are sick or are asked to quarantine. Instructors may request documentation for student absences, and we encourage consideration of documentation other than doctors’ notes in order to keep as many appointments available at Watkins for students who must see a physician.

If you have concerns about your own health, please reach out to your healthcare provider and follow their instructions. To protect privacy, do not share health information about a student unless they have given you permission to do so.

When an Instructor Needs to Quarantine or Isolate

Moving a class entirely online cannot be done without approval of the dean, with requests made through chairs/directors in schools with chairs/directors. Please inform your chair/dean if you have been personally contacted and advised by a county health professional that it is appropriate to move your class online. If you have any concerns about your own health, please contact your healthcare provider.

If you have any concerns about your own health, please contact your healthcare provider.

When an Instructor's Dependent Needs to Quarantine or Isolate

If you find yourself in the difficult situation of having to care for a child required to quarantine by a local school district or daycare due to possible COVID-19 exposure, we ask that you take the following steps to manage your teaching responsibilities:

  1. Inform your chair, dean, or faculty supervisor and work with them to find another instructor to meet with the class.  
  2. If another instructor is not available, then devise a meaningful alternative that could include:
    • Engaging students remotely, but with students in the classroom and someone else designated to assist in facilitating course activities.
    • Engaging students remotely until the end of the quarantine period.

Student Displaying Symptoms of COVID-19

As in any situation when a student is obviously in distress, encourage students appearing ill to leave class and seek assistance. Watkins Health Services provides walk-in services for students. Remind students that they need to contact you about how to complete missed work or exams, and to follow health care provider instructions or Douglas County Health officials about when it is safe to return to class.

Contact Tracing

State law precludes the university from undertaking its own contact tracing efforts, but KU provides relevant information to LCDHE and KDHE, as appropriate, to assist in contact tracing. As we have throughout the pandemic, KU will continue to support contact tracing efforts of the Lawrence/Douglas County Health Department in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Health.

Safety Precautions Available to Instructors

Instructors will find familiar safety features in classrooms such as plexiglass barriers, sanitizer, and air purification systems. PPE can be requested through Campus Operations by completing the PPE Requisition Form. Instructors may also benefit from scheduling a meeting in their classroom with an operations employee to discuss the safety precautions of the room, space configuration, and ventilation specifications by contacting  A PAPR (powered air purifying respirator) can be requested by emailing 

Room Ventilation

FS HVAC teams, in partnership with the University Engineer, studied the effects of increasing our MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating and it resulted in an exponential drop in air exchange rates and therefore a drop in the introduction of fresh air in the spaces. This would have an overall negative effect on the health and safety of our buildings (stagnant air). Increasing outside air intake and optimizing exchange rates are far more important than filtering. Mask wearing reduces the likelihood that the airborne particles make it back into the return air system at all.

To further enhance the ‘in room’ filtration, air purifiers have been installed in classroom and shared spaces.  Filter units use hospital-grade filters to continually scrub and circulate the air.

Steps to Take if Exposed or are Experiencing Symptoms of COVID-19

Not Vaccinated

Persons who are not fully vaccinated or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to follow current quarantine guidance if exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

If you are required to quarantine or self-isolate:

  • Stay home until it’s safe to be around others or if medical care is needed.
  • Contact your employer (if applicable).
  • Call the individual(s) who can help with getting you food and other supplies.
  • Be prepared to speak with public health officials who may be assisting with contact tracing.
  • Contact your instructors as soon as possible to seek a course adaptation.
  • Know how to engage with university services remotely.
  • Stay connected with family and friends remotely. Use personal tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts for meeting with your faculty, advisors, university programming, student organizations, or talking to friends and family.

Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine as long as they:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine).
  • Are within six months following receipt of the last dose in the series.
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

For additional support please call the Watkins Health Services Nurse Helpline at 785-864-9583.

Mask Requirements

Removing a Mask While Teaching or Performing

A faculty member could remove their mask for the entirety of their lecture. This exemption will allow instructors, performers, speakers, etc. to remove their mask while teaching, performing, playing an instrument, speaking, or otherwise engaged in activities where they are in front of an audience (audience members must remain masked). The ability to remove masks while presenting is, of course, optional and should be considered a personal choice. It should also be noted that physical distancing should be maintained while the individual has their face mask/covering removed. If desired, instructors may complete the PPE requisition form to request additional PPE or plexiglass barriers.

Unmasked Students in the Classroom

If a student is not wearing a mask in class, the instructor should take the following steps:

  • Remind the student of the campus policy and ask them to put on a mask.

  • If the student continues to disregard the policy they can be asked to leave the class, and the instructor should report the details using the Unmasked KU form.

  • If the student refuses to wear a mask, or leave when asked to leave, the instructor may choose to dismiss the class at their discretion. Refusing to wear a mask in the classroom may be considered academic misconduct.

Teaching Requirements

Online Course Options

If the course you’re teaching was offered in-person prior to the pandemic, the expectation is that the course will be offered in-person again. Instructors and departments are not required to offer course adaptions. Students needing online courses should discuss options with their academic advisor. Advisors will help students explore online options that meet degree requirements. If there are no viable options, students will need to work with their home academic department . The details of each adaptation will be worked out between the student, their instructor, and the academic department. Because of the possibility of the need for students or instructors to quarantine, instructors are encouraged to build flexibility into their course plans to more easily adapt to changing public health circumstances. Visit the Flex Teaching website for more information.  

For more information about course adaptations, please visit the Student Affairs website or contact

Faculty teaching assignments are established by their departments/chairs. If you have an in person teaching assignment and you are concerned about returning to campus due to an underlying health condition, we welcome you to contact the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility to discuss your concerns and potential workplace accommodations. You can contact the office by completing the intake form or emailing If you have other questions or concerns, please contact Faculty Development at 785-864-3489 or

Office Hours

We know that students appreciated the flexibility offered by Zoom office hours; CTE has encouraged instructors to continue at least some office hours via Zoom.

Classroom Capacity

Over the summer we reset classrooms across campus. Those efforts adjusted classrooms from the pandemic-relegated/physical distanced capacity, to a newly established optimal-learning capacity. The updated classroom seating is designed to accommodate 25 square feet per student, which is the standard for an optimal teaching and learning environment based on Higher Learning Commission recommendations. Regular seating capacity will resume in lecture halls.


Instructors control the attendance policies in their classes. If students are asked to quarantine or they are too sick to attend class, we have reminded them they need to follow their healthcare provider or Douglas County Health instructions and they are responsible for contacting you about how to complete missed work or exams.