Generalist teaching spaces have been reconfigured to provide more physical distancing. Here’s how I would approach f2f teaching in S2.

Next week we return to teaching. Some of our teaching is on campus and some is not. Last week, the Vice-Chancellor noted the difference in our approach to general teaching spaces (where we can sustain levels of physical distancing) and specialist teaching spaces (where because of the nature of the space or the activity, physical distancing cannot be sustained).

Generalist teaching spaces have been reconfigured to provide more physical distancing. Colleagues will see that many spaces have been arranged in a checkerboard pattern to achieve this aim. As well as hand sanitiser being available near teaching spaces for easy access by staff and students, each room will also have antibacterial wipes or teaching staff will be provided with wipes to take to the teaching space.

Below are my thoughts on how I would teach in a generalist teaching space reconfigured for physical distancing. Colleagues should also remember to consult the MQ COVIDSafe Plan and associated FAQs as they make their preparations for S2.

In preparation for teaching in S2 I’d think about the following:

  1. To maintain physical distancing and hygiene, I will not be able to reconfigure the furniture as it has been set. My activities may need to be altered to suit the space but I don’t want my activities to become a prisoner to the space. I’d look for alternatives and keep my learning objectives for each class front of mind.
  2. Engage general and specific L&T resources to see if there are any ideas already being shared for teaching in physically distanced spaces that relate to my discipline or my lesson plan.  
  3. To assist in the above, I would visit the space to sense-check my ideas before classes start.

Before the teaching commenced I’d contact students via iLearn and note the following:

  1. Remind students that campus-based teaching will be different in S2 due to COVID-19 and that they have a personal responsibility for practising physical distancing and maintaining personal hygiene.  
  2. Reassure students about the provisions in place for general teaching spaces, noting the physically distanced reconfiguration of the spaces and the availability of hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes. I would also note that while it is not currently a requirement, individuals are welcome to wear masks in the classroom if they so wish.
  3. Request that students do not enter the classroom till I have arrived; and while outside practice physical distancing as per any signage advice in the space.
  4. Remind students not to attend class if they are unwell.

Before the first class, I’d:

  1. Procure some disposable gloves and some plastic bags. At this stage, I do not feel I need to wear a mask in a general teaching space. My comfort level on this may change or be changed for me by university or public health directions.

On arriving at the first class, I’d:

  1. Oversee a systematic entry of students to the teaching space asking them to fill the space from the far corner of the room.
  2. Remind students to use the nearby hand santisers, and dispense an antibacterial wipe to each student as they enter.
  3. Ask the students to clean their table surface and also the back of the chair where they would pull it out and under the chair where they grip the seat to pull it in.
  4. I would then collect the used wipes with my plastic bag (perhaps I’d wear gloves or just sanitise after the collection) and place them in the bin. You might just direct students to the bin but for me, collecting reduces movement around the space.
  5. I’d remind students not to share items (pens, laptops etc) with others.
  6. I would make sure I have recorded who attended in case contract tracing is later required.
  7. If possible, and it was not disturbing nearby classes, I’d think about keeping the door and any windows that can be opened open to maximise ventilation. Keeping some doors open can produce an irritating beep but it seems to get drowned out by class noise.

In teaching my class, I’d think about:

  1. The need to shorten the time available for the class activities to accommodate the risk control measures I have implemented.
  2. Any class activities scheduled for the class and how I build hygiene into the activity if required.
  3. Ending the class promptly to allow the next colleague to also prepare the space for teaching.
  4. Not using any handouts in favour of shared electronic versions.
  5. The possibility of using Teams or Zoom, or the like, to share screens for large board projection for presentations by students in the class room. 
  6. Confining any collaborative discussions within the class to three students organised as a triangle as per the checkerboard pattern. If the class contained another breakout activity, I would use the same groups. I would not let these activities run for more than 15 minutes within the class.
  7. If the class is longer that 100 minutes, we are advised to take a dedicated break. If it is a two-hour seminar, I’d take the traditional 10 minute break at the top of the hour. I’d ask students to hand sanitise on their way back. I don’t think I would ask them to reclean their personal space.

What I’d do if a student contacted me to say they were not feeling well:

  1. Advise them to stay at home and get a test.
  2. If they were feeling well enough, I would direct them to one of the online synchronous classes which they could attend until they were able to attend class on campus once again. I would not alter their class registration for this temporary class change.

What I’d do if a student was unable to attend a class because they had been forced to self-isolate or because of some public health order (like the case of the postcode lockdown or public housing lockdown in Victoria).

  1. I’d simply direct them to one of the online synchronous classes which they could attend until they were able to attend class on campus once again. I would not go to the trouble of changing their class registration.

What I’d do if a student contacted me to say they had contracted COVID-19:

  1. Alert the COVIDSafe Coordinator in case they had not yet been advised by Public Health officials.
  2. Tell the student to complete a Special Consideration application for the illness.

What I’d do if a student presented who appeared ill:

  1. I’d frame the conversation very much around the safety of the ill student and the safety of their fellow students.
  2. I’d ask them to leave and suggest they go to the MQ Health GP Clinic where they can secure a test or visit their nearest testing centre (see COVIDSafe plan for further information).
  3. If they refused to leave, I would advise them that they are disrupting the class which constitutes misconduct under the Student Code of Conduct.
  4. I would then caution the student that I will report their refusal to leave class as a misconduct.
  5. If they still refused to leave, I would end the class and proceed with a misconduct case.
  6. I would report the misconduct incident via this link

After class, I’d:

  1. Think about sharing my teaching experience with colleagues. If something works share! And if your colleagues think it was a great move, share it with us all here on the TECHE blog or in a comment on this post.
  2. Learn from other colleagues’ experiences and alter my plans accordingly.

Posted by Sean Brawley

One Comment

  1. Cathy Rytmeister 23 July, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    A request on behalf of TEDS:
    If you have students who change to a different class for the remainder of the session (rather than just a week or two to accommodate illness or isolation), please ask them to change their class registration. I know it seems like a bit of a formality, but it’s important if you’re planning to seek student feedback on your teaching.

    Learner Experience of Teaching (LET) and SPoTS surveys are now all delivered online, and students are invited to complete these on the basis of their class registration in AMIS.

    If they’re registered in one class but attending a different one, they might receive a survey invitation to give feedback to a teacher they didn’t have, and not receive one for a teacher they did have (and to whom they would like to give feedback).

    TEDS will be sending out further comms on this issue as the session progresses.

    N.B. LEUs are not affected as they are based on the unit enrolment rather than class registration.


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