COVID-19 Academic Planning FAQ

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

last updated Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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Questions about Instruction

What do I do if I have a student with COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected)?

This online guidance page describes the process you should follow. (You can also view and download this pdf.) Related FAQs will be found on the guidance page.

What is the planned mode of instruction for the spring semester?

As with the fall semester, there is no default plan of instruction. Instructors should work with their unit heads to identify the modality that would best suit their course(s), whether fully in-person; fully online (asynchronous); remote (online but with a set, synchronous meeting pattern); or blended (also called hybrid and could include new modalities such as hy-flex). The delivery format of the course should be clearly indicated in the Class Schedule so that students can make informed choices about their course selection (administrators/schedulers will be notified once the catalog set up that will allow these different format selections is completed).

If you will teach in a distanced modality, you will need to identify how your learning objectives will be achieved.

If you will teach in a modality that involves an in-person component, you will need to identify how you will accomplish the planned Thanksgiving pivot to remote instruction, achieve physical distancing, and accommodate students who will miss class because of illness or quarantine. Classes that are meeting in-person will be assigned a classroom that will accommodate the physical distancing requirements.

Regardless of modality, the Faculty & Instructor Development page provides resources to support your preparations for instruction this Fall.

Who determines whether a class will be held in-person or online?

Faculty and instructors, in consultation with their chair/head and subject to capacity constraints on classrooms in accord with physical distancing guidance, retain autonomy in deciding the preferred modality of their course. If the demand for teaching in-person exceeds the capacity of available classrooms, unit heads and deans will need to work with instructors to set priorities for which courses will be taught in-person.

No one, including a unit chair/head, should pressure an instructor to teach in-person if the instructor is not comfortable. If you feel such pressure, you should contact your unit head, or their supervisor.

How can instructors indicate the course delivery format of their class and how will students know this when choosing classes?

Instructors should let their department administrator/scheduler know which of the following four course delivery formats they plan to use. Once the catalog setup is complete, administrators/schedulers will be notified so they can set up the course appropriately. See the second page of the Setting up an online section documentation for how classes will display for students.

In-Person Class: Students and instructors meet in person for class at regularly scheduled days and times.

Blended Class (Both in person and online/remote; also referred to as Hybrid; will include HyFlex options): Students can expect a combination of delivery methods: in person and online/remote.

Remote Class (fully online with set meeting patterns): Students and instructors must be online at the same time, at scheduled days and times. 100% of instruction is online with no in-person meetings. Exams are also all online.

Online Class (fully online with no set meeting pattern): Instructors provide materials and assignments that students access online at any time or within a given time frame (such as one week), rather than instructors and students meeting together as a class on a regular schedule. Exams are also all online. No synchronous or on-campus meetings.

Not every class will be offered in every modality. We have reclassified the classroom capacities to incorporate six feet of physical distance, and are in the process of scheduling in-person and blended classes into classrooms. We have reclassified the classroom capacities to incorporate six feet of physical distance, and are in the process of scheduling in-person and blended classes into classrooms. Our goal is to fill each seat in the reduced classroom capacity.

We will be reaching out to students at the end of July, describing the courses that they're currently enrolled in and offering them the opportunity to drop/add. After they receive that message, we encourage students to reach out to their advisors if they need assistance in revising their schedule to meet their needs. For students who wish to remain at a distance, we are confident that there will be sufficient distanced classes (remote and online) to allow students to make progress toward their degrees.

What resources are available to help me develop a quality remote learning experience for my students?

Local academic technology professionals in your college, campus, or unit and central IT are available to support instructors with quality instructional design. In addition, the Faculty & Instructor Development page collects various resources from across the University to support your preparations for instruction this Fall.

Will students be required to wear masks in class?

Face coverings are required on the Twin Cities campus in most situations. View the Face Covering Protocol. For more questions, view the Face Covering FAQs, especially the section entitled "Faculty: Information specific to teaching and conducting research at the University."

For guidance on alternatives to face coverings as an accommodation, please see the following resources from the Disability Resource Center: Alternative Face Coverings as an Accommodation | COVID, the DRC, and Students

Will I need to wear a mask when I teach?

The University requires face coverings to be worn indoors (including in classrooms) across all campuses as part of our larger effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For guidance on alternatives to face coverings as an accommodation, please see the following resources from the Disability Resource Center: Alternative Face Coverings as an Accommodation | COVID, the DRC, and the Students

I want to teach at a distance, but my course includes a lab or other experiential component.

The Center for Educational Innovation recently convened a series of systemwide discussions to generate and share creative solutions for doing experiential instruction online. Ideas and effective practices that were generated as well as session recordings are available from CEI, and this YouTube playlist includes recordings for all sessions.

How do I administer exams remotely?

The final exam period will be held after the Thanksgiving break and conducted remotely. There are tools to help with remote proctoring.

  • 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 set up 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

Can an instructor offer a midterm exam or other exam during the regular class meeting period?

Midterms and other exams that are not final exams are allowed to be held in class. See below for more about final exams.

That said, instructors are encouraged to be flexible as to when a student may access and submit exams and other assessments. For example, an instructor may identify a 24-hour period in which students may access and submit a completed exam that is designed to take an hour.

Can an instructor offer a final exam at a different time?

An instructor holding a synchronous final exam should maintain the posted final exam times.

If an instructor and students conclude they wish to move the final examination for the course to a different time and/or day during the final examination period, the change must be (1) proposed by the instructor and (2) have the agreement of the department chair. If the proposal to change the exam time is made after the first day of class, the change must also be approved unanimously by an anonymous survey of the students in class.

Instructors may instead choose to offer an asynchronous exam or alternative project.

Can an instructor assign a take-home exam, final project or final paper?

Yes, an instructor can assign a take-home exam, final project or final paper prior to the final exam period but may not make the final due before the scheduled final exam for that course.

Can I assign a student an incomplete?

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.

Are there copyright issues with moving course materials online?

The University Libraries have a great guide to these issues.

I have a question that I don't see addressed here. Who can I contact to get an answer?

Please send any unanswered academic questions to [email protected].

Please see the Return to Campus site for broader questions about health and safety.

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Policy Questions

Do I need permission to record my online course discussions with students?

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

Are there FERPA rules that govern teaching remotely?

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.

Who do I contact with an academic policy question that isn't addressed here?

Please send any unanswered questions about academic policies to [email protected].