Tips for Face-to-Face Teaching with Masks

This guide offers suggestions for improved communication when students and instructors are wearing masks and observing spatial distancing —

How do I conduct an interactive face-to-face class while students are physically distanced?

  • Because students must wear masks and maintain spatial distance, voices are muffled, and it can be hard for students to hear over one another when they are asked to engage in paired or small group conversation.
  • Activities in which one student is speaking at a time will likely be most successful. For example, you could engage students in a structured class-wide discussion, have two or four students have a debate, or use a “fishbowl” where a subset of the class has a discussion and the rest of the class observes.
  • Poll the students using Poll Everywhere and then debrief as an entire group. Learn more about Poll Everywhere here.
  • Games can be a great way to foster interaction, and there are many ways to do this online.

See this resource from University of South Florida for more ideas.

If students are spread out all over the room/lecture hall and I am wearing a mask, will they be able to hear me and follow?

  • Every 10 – 15 minutes, check in with both face-to-face and remote students. It’s as simple as saying, “Okay folks in the classroom, are you with me? Are there any questions?” and then asking, “Folks in Zoom, are you with me and are there any questions?” 
  • In mid-sized and smaller classrooms, instructors will need to project their voices so students in the room will be able to hear clearly.
  • Some larger classrooms have an integrated mic at the podium which you may consider using.
  • For large lecture halls, Tufts AV Services will provide you with a personal lavalier microphone which you can keep for the academic year, and which will connect to a belt pack in the classroom. Learn more about available microphones here.

Learn more about using Tufts multi-modality classrooms

What do I do if remote students have tech problems, and have trouble hearing me, following the class, or participating in learning activities?

  • You may want to survey students before or on the first day so that you know what their limitations are for participating remotely.
  • Record all lectures if you have student consent, and provide other asynchronous didactic videos which students can access. This will ensure that students will have access to essential content if they miss a face-to-face or Zoom session. NOTE: Remember to pause and restart recording if you are using breakout rooms to reduce recording time.  
  • In order to guarantee equity and accessibility, we strongly encourage you to make much as much of the course content as possible asynchronously available to all students. This allows for flexibility in changing circumstances and equitable learning experiences for remote learners. 
    See Tip Sheet: Engaging Students in Active Learning Asynchronously 
  • In each physical classroom instructions for the room’s technology will be posted, and there will also a number to call if there are classroom technical issues.  
    See: Using Multi-Modality Classrooms to learn more about Tufts available technologies