Updated: August 11, 2020 at 1:03PM

Classrooms & Instructional Spaces Reconfiguration

HERE is what to expect: Classroom experience

We continue to prepare our classrooms for the fall semester by implementing physical distancing, health and safety protocols, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices. The combination of these three efforts will help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

Physical Distancing

We are implementing physical distancing in all Registrar and departmental classrooms as well as 27 additional spaces that will be utilized as classrooms this fall (e.g. DPAC, Morris Inn, Washington Hall, Dahnke Ballroom). Faculty will be at least 6’ from students in all classrooms.  Approximately 70% of the classrooms will allow for 6’ of physical distancing between students. In some classrooms, mostly those with fixed furniture, we were not always able to allow for a full 6’ between students. However, with faculty and students all wearing masks while in the classroom, these distances were deemed safe for students and faculty by both local and national medical experts.

In auditoriums, we were advised to align students in “columns” rather than in a staggered format so that students would be facing the back of the head of the  student in front of them, rather than being at an angle, to lessen the potential to inhale droplets.  We note that Facilities Design & Operations test ran "columns" versus staggered seating in auditoriums. Staggered seating in auditoriums did not change capacities, which further supported our decision to use column arrangements. 

We have worked closely with the local health department authorities, who helped us develop these physical distancing guidelines for our classrooms. They have personally visited, reviewed, and approved our implementation in multiple classroom settings.  In addition, the CEO/president and the chief analytics officer from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, which received national attention for its effective management of  COVID-19, have reviewed and endorsed our physical distancing implementation in our classrooms. 

These efforts have reduced the average capacity across all Registrar classrooms by 54%. We should all notice a discernible decrease in student numbers and congestion at any given time. For example, in DeBartolo Hall, the number of students in the building in fall 2020 compared to fall 2019 decreases by anywhere from 40% to 62% depending on day and time slot, with an average decrease of 51%. Consequently, our buildings will not “feel” as crowded as they have been in previous years.

In most classrooms and studios, a rolling clear plastic barrier has been provided at the front of the space. Since it is assumed that both students and instructors are wearing face masks at all times during each class, the use and positioning of the barrier are at the discretion of the instructor.

Seating and Dismissal Protocols

  • Faculty members will ensure that each student sits in an assigned seat to help with contact tracing should that become necessary.  
  • We ask that students be instructed to fill in seats from the back row to the front, in order to increase the distance between the instructor and students in classrooms that are not filled to maximum capacity, and from the middle of a row to the outside of the row to minimize congestion.  
  • At the end of each class, we ask, wherever possible, that instructors dismiss students by row at the end of each class (using alternating doors, if available), starting with the row closest to the door(s), in order to reduce congestion at the doors and in the hallway.  
  • We ask that instructors remind students to move through the hallways and go directly to either their next class or out of the building using the nearest exit and to not congregate in the halls.

Reporting Seat Locations

Permanent seat assignments in classrooms are critical to the contact tracing process and will be reported to the Coronavirus Response Unit  (CRU) through a university-wide survey at here.nd.edu/seat. All usable seats have been numbered. Instructors should remind students each class meeting during the add/drop period (Aug 10-Aug 17) to report their seat location using here.nd.edu/seat

Students should choose a permanent seat and keep it. Seat changes may be permitted by the instructor during the add/drop period. At the end of the add/drop period on August 18, instructors should remind students to report their permanent seats using here.nd.edu/seat. After the final list is submitted, students will no longer be asked to report seats to the CRU. If a seating change is absolutely necessary later in the semester, the student must complete the survey to indicate the change. Instructors do not report attendance to the CRU.