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 [email protected].

last updated Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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Policy Questions

What is the policy for final examinations?

The final examination policy is valid for Spring 2020 alternative instruction. All Spring 2020 final exams will be delivered remotely.

Can students change their grading basis to S/N (pass/fail)?

All students in undergraduate classes on all campuses will have the opportunity 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:

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.

How does this decision affect the end of A term and beginning of B term?

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.

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Questions about Instruction

Should I plan for my online class to be synchronous or asynchronous?

Instructors are encouraged to prepare their summer online coursework to be delivered asynchronously as much as possible, because this provides students with the most flexibility. Even in an asynchronous course, some course activities may be conducted in a synchronous way. This is not the same as having a regular, required, synchronous meeting pattern.

To learn more about teaching online in a planful, asynchronous way, instructors are encouraged to work with local academic technology professionals in your college, campus, or unit; with central IT; or the Center for Educational Innovation.

How can instructors indicate if summer online classes are going to be synchronous or asynchronous and how will students know this when choosing classes?

Instructors should let their department administrator/scheduler know if they plan to teach synchronously (in which case a meeting pattern is required) or asynchronously. Administrators/Schedulers will set up the course appropriately. See the second page of the Setting up an online section documentation for how online classes will display for students.

How do I cancel classes that are not appropriate for online instruction?

All summer 2020 cancellation requests should be sent to [email protected] and are subject to a review by the Provost’s Office and Associate Deans.

Can I add additional online classes for summer?

We want to make sure we have a robust summer offering. If you have a class that you would like to offer, please work with your department to determine if this can be accommodated.

Do we have to move all courses to online 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 and other examples are described in the "Low Tech Keep Teaching Resources" prepared by the Center for Educational Innovation.

How can I teach my class remotely?

Can instructors change course content?

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.

What about laboratory, clinical, and performance classes?

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.

How do I administer exams?

  • 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

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

Instructors are encouraged to be flexible as to when a student may access and submit the exam. 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.

Can an instructor still use a regularly scheduled classroom to host a remote class?

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.