COVID-19 Academic Planning FAQ

The following questions are only a few of the many issues raised about the impact that COVID-19 may have on the University. Please see also:

Academic-specific questions will be addressed here as they arise and when answers are available. Please send any unanswered academic questions to

last updated Friday, March 27 at 1:45 p.m.

Policy Questions

All students in undergraduate classes on all campuses will have the opportunity (after April 1) to change their grade basis from A/F to S/N (satisfactory/not satisfactory) for an unlimited number of spring 2020 full term and/or B-term (second half of term) courses. In addition, courses taken as S/N during this period will be accepted for major (and minor) requirements.

Each school or college will determine whether all of their graduate and professional level courses will include an option for students to change their grade basis from A/F to S/N (satisfactory/not satisfactory) for any number of spring 2020 and/or B-term (second half of term) courses. Final decisions will be the responsibility of the dean of the school or college offering the courses, and should be informed by the nature and needs of their degree programs, accreditation requirements, and norms and expectations.

Please see these communications for details:

The Teaching and Learning: Student Responsibilities policy prohibits students from recording the lectures without the instructor's permission. There is no University policy that requires the students’ permission, however, there are guidelines related to FERPA

FERPA is a broad law that covers all student education records. Everything in Canvas, the discussion board, assignments, and any communication to the student, is a part of a student’s education record and needs to be handled safely. Please see these guidelines for further information.

Classes in the first half session will end Monday, March 16. An extension of the session and class is not available.

  • An in-class exam can be converted and offered in alternative formats. Instructors may also consider other testing formats (e.g., oral exam via Zoom) in lieu of a take-home exam if it is appropriate for their course’s learning goals.
    • Instructors may eliminate remaining graded coursework if it is not suited to remote delivery.
    • Remember, too, that students with disabilities may require accommodations.
  • Students may also inquire if their instructor has multiple options available to all students for completing final coursework. Students may not request that instructors extend differential treatment such as grading them differently than other students in the course.

Classes starting the second half session that begins on Tuesday, March 17 will lose one day of instruction. The University is waiving the mandatory first day of term attendance policy for these classes.

Questions about Instruction

We are asking you to determine and deploy alternative instruction. You are empowered to decide what is most appropriate and workable for your courses, your instructional responsibilities, and your teaching style. It is not the case that all instruction must now be moved into a fully online format. You might, e.g., ask students to complete assignments that they can then email to you. This example and other alternatives to Canvas and Zoom have been prepared by the Center for Educational Innovation.

Many faculty already used blended forms of teaching their on-campus classes, which may involve uploading course materials to Canvas, the University's learning management system. These course materials may include lecture notes or slides, or pre-recorded lectures. Moving all instruction into a virtual space can take different forms depending on the course content, and may take advantage of videoconferencing for synchronous lectures and group discussions. The "Keep Teaching with Canvas" resource can assist instructors in adapting course materials and learning activities quickly.

Consider prioritizing what you can do in these circumstances, given your situation—your familiarity with various tools, your instructional aims, the support available to you, etc. It is also important to remember that not all students may be equally positioned to take advantage of alternative instructional approaches. They may have internet service issues, lack of access to personal computers, accommodation needs, etc. We will try to work through these issues with you, should they arise.


Instructors are allowed to make changes to course content to accommodate alternative course delivery. Instructors should make every effort to provide notice of any changes to students. For more information, please see the Administrative Policy: Teaching and Learning: Instructor and Unit Responsibilities.

This will be different, depending on the situation. For example, lab and field classes may substitute direct student ‘wet’ work or field observations with videos, recorded presentations and analysis of data sets. PE courses may focus on videotaped analysis, theory, etc. Obviously not all of the course goals will be achieved in these delivery modes, but given the time frame and the situation, instructors could prioritize material based on its ability to be adapted in this way, and grading scenarios could be adjusted as long as students satisfactorily meet the adapted course requirements. The Provost has urged faculty to approach this challenge with creativity and flexibility.

  • Canvas can administer quizzes using a locked down browser, Respondus, that is integrated with Canvas
  • Proctorio is a flexible e-proctoring tool that gives faculty the opportunity to setup online proctoring specific to their own assessment needs. As with any tool, it is optimized for some, but not all, types of exams.
  • Faculty can consider alternative assessments and altered grading strategies to eliminate exams (finals or midterm)
  • See also these best practices from an instructor at George Washington University for converting in person quizzes and exams to online

An incomplete may be appropriate in limited situations where a student is on track to receive a passing grade and is unable to complete the remainder of the course in the semester.

No, instructors should make plans to teach remotely, following President Gabel's instruction that all employees should work from home as of March 19, 2020.