With the start of Fall 2021 classes just a couple weeks away it’s time to send out an update to ensure that everyone in REL is on the same page for how the semester will start.
New Mask Mandate
If you have missed it, UA recently announced implementing a mask mandate on campus, to be regularly reassessed throughout the semester. All classrooms are back to full capacity, however, and the plexiglass has been removed from classrooms, though stand-alone plexiglass barriers are, we believe, still present at the lectern/multimedia podium of many classes. Also, COVID accommodations — unless it rises to the level of a disability, and that is determined by making an application to UA’s Office of Disability Services (ODS) — have been discontinued.
This means that masks are required of all students in REL, whether you are in the Department to visit the main office or see a faculty member or attending any of its classes.
The REL faculty have met during the summer to discuss what shape things might take come the start of the Fall semester and to devise pedagogical strategies to ensure that our students continue to succeed, regardless the conditions. That means that your professor may be very proactive in sharing classroom content with students after class (e.g., perhaps a Panopto recording of the lecture or lecture notes), to help students review the material; given the very real possibility of students being quarantined or perhaps falling ill throughout the semester your professor may also institute a more informal attendance policy. This is determined by each individual professor, of course, but REL faculty are united in their desire to keep you safe and on track to earn your degree on time.
Your professor may be emailing you prior to the start of classes if there’s anything specific for you to know about how any of your classes will be start, such as some opting to meet outside for the first day of class. So please watch your email for any announcements in the coming days and weeks.
Remote Office Hours
REL faculty also know that offering regular office hours, whether with themselves or a GTA who assists with a course, via remote technology is a possibility for them, given the risks associated even with masked in-person meetings in some smaller enclosed spaces, such as a faculty office.
REL Main Office
Unless a need arises to revise our approach, the REL main office is open, though requiring you to be masked and to socially distance. You can also contact the main office either by phone or email. You can of course also contact the Chair of the Department — though, for questions concerning specific classes, please begin by contacting your professor.
We hope that you are doing everything that you can to keep yourself healthy,
as well as those around you — which includes the residents of Tuscaloosa,
the city that generously hosts us.