News and Announcements

Faculty fall planning update, Aug. 13, 2020

The following message was shared with faculty on Aug. 13, 2020

Dear colleagues: 

As we approach mid-August, the end of this summer and the start of the new fall semester bring both the comfort of familiar academic cycles and the anxiety of continuing to navigate through the pandemic. The recent decision to begin the semester using a phased approach is best for the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, but we know that it has also disrupted the plans of many. Below is important information related to the upcoming fall semester that we hope will help ease some of the disruption for students and faculty, including the following: 

  • A request to contact your students by Monday, August 17 (one week before classes begin)
  • A brief overview of timing and process for Athens campus phase 2
  • An update on the lab working group
  • Important updates from the Academic Policy and Process planning group related to incomplete grade extensions, final exams, and attendance policies for fall 2020
  • A reminder about remote teaching workshops 

Request to contact students by Monday, August 17 
The transition to remote learning (Athens) or a hybrid model (RHE) for most students means that some students may not know what to expect from the start of classes, including basic information about how a class will run or where to find a class’s Blackboard site. This transition may be especially difficult for new students, who are making the transition to a new institution as well as to online learning. And unlike the spring, when students already knew their instructor and had spent half a semester in their courses before we shifted to remote learning, everything will be new for most students this fall. We ask that you contact each of your classes on or before Monday, August 17, to introduce yourself and the course, to share some basic information, and to start connecting with your students. This could include how the student can access the course syllabus and other materials, how the class will be structured (e.g., synchronous, asynchronous, a blend), which texts, materials, or technology a student will need to get started, and your attendance policy to accommodate COVID-19 as discussed below. Consider sharing links to resources to help students navigate online learning, such as the student Blackboard help site, the Keep Learning website, and remote academic support services.   

Timing and process for phase 2 (Athens) 
As a reminder, phase 2 will start September 28 on the Athens campus. Departments and schools have been working with their college representatives on the Fall Curriculum Scenario Planning group to plan for several phase 2 scenarios depending on status of the pandemic, and we are on schedule to finalize and announce plans for phase 2 no later than September 8.  
Lab Working Group 
Faculty from across the university have joined a working group to identify options for meeting the learning outcomes for labs during remote teaching, including possibilities such as home lab kits, interactive filmed labs, and interactive virtual labs. This is a short-lived group that is working very quickly. The Lab Group has produced a survey to compile a comprehensive list of technology, supplies, or equipment needed to support remote experiential learning. Examples include but are not limited to software, media licenses, at-home materials, and video cameras for recording demonstration labs. Faculty who seek remote resources for experiential learning are strongly encouraged to complete the following survey on or before Friday, August 14 at 1 p.m.: 

Updates from the Academic Policy and Process Group 
The academic policy information below was developed by the Academic Policy and Process group, one of the fall planning groups chaired by outgoing and incoming Faculty Senate Vice Chairs Sara Helfrich and Ben Bates. This group also consulted or received approval from appropriate shared governance committees. 

Class attendance policy: Below is an overview of COVID-19 updates to the existing university attendance policy. The full policy is available at Academic%20Policy%20Update%20fall%202020.pdf.

During the pandemic, it is especially critical that students not attend class when ill. Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines, the university will treat absences because a student is ill with COVID-19, is engaging in self-quarantine or isolation at the direction of the health care professional or other official health department, or believes they might have COVID-19 as a “legitimate absence” as described in the existing attendance policy.  

For illness-related absences totaling two weeks or less of instruction, students will not be required to provide formal documentation and should not be penalized for absences. Per the current absence policy, students returning to class after a legitimate absence can expect their instructors’ assistance (makeup work, excused absences, recalculation of the student’s grade based on remaining work) within the limits of the instructor’s established attendance policies.  

For legitimate absences totaling more than two weeks of instruction, students should consult with their instructors about whether and how they can successfully complete each course by the end of the semester, and if necessary may consider a withdrawal or medical withdrawal depending on the time of the semester.  

Incomplete extension:  As in the spring, the deadline for automatically converting fall 2020 Incomplete (I) to Failing (F) grades will be extended to the spring semester closing date, May 1, 2021. Students should consult with their faculty and their college or campus student services offices and/or academic advisor to understand any implications; when a student applies for graduation, any Incomplete (I) still on record will be calculated as a Failing (F) grade for the purpose of determining eligibility for graduation and will be converted to an F grade upon graduation. 

Final exam recommendations: Below is a brief overview of fall 2020 final exam guidelines based on existing final exam requirements. The full policy is available at

  • For all modalities, faculty should include the final exam or culminating experience due date and time on the course syllabus. This due date must occur during the university defined final exam week. In addition to the due date and time, faculty should include any technology requirements for the exam or culminating experience on their syllabus as well as applicable start times or time limits. 
  • Unless otherwise required by program accreditation, all faculty are strongly encouraged to use an asynchronous exam. The exam window must not close prior to the end of the Registrar-scheduled exam time (if available). See
  • The need for synchronous exams should be reviewed and approved by the department chair/director and the regional campus dean should be notified if applicable. A synchronous exam window must be at the Registrar-scheduled exam time (if available). Students may seek relief before the beginning of the thirteenth week of the semester if a synchronous exam is scheduled beginning earlier than 7:00 a.m. or later than 7:30 p.m. in their local time zone. 
  • Faculty are encouraged to develop culminating experiences as alternatives to exams as appropriate for their discipline and the course. Culminating experiences must not be due prior to the end of the Registrar-scheduled exam time (if available). 
  • Multiple exams: Students will not have more than three final exams or other culminating experiences due on the same day. If students have more than three on the same day, they can appeal to the instructor with the exam that is due at the latest time on that day. Alternative arrangements should be completed by the thirteenth week of the semester.

The Academic Policy and Process group along with Faculty Senate committees are also considering changes to course evaluations for the fall semester and tenure clock extension options.  

Remote Teaching Workshops
More than 370 faculty have registered for the Remote Teaching Fundamentals workshops, and over 270 faculty have enrolled in the Instructional Strategies for Remote and Online Teaching self-paced course offered by the Office of Instructional Innovation (OII). Faculty can continue to register for fall workshops (some with stipends available), register for a live workshop, or watch pre-recorded workshops at the following URL:

In addition, OII continues to offer one-on-one technology and teaching consultations:  

We hope that the declining case numbers we are starting to see in the counties where we have campuses and in the areas of Ohio from which the majority of our students come are signs that the state mask mandate is starting to have an effect, but we will continue to closely monitor trends in cases, test availability, and test turnaround time, and to consult with public health experts as we continue to plan for phase 2. Thank you for your flexibility as we approach the start of the semester and continue to respond to evolving conditions. 


Robin Muhammad
Faculty Senate Chair 

Elizabeth Sayrs 
Executive VIce President and Provost


Keep Teaching Website

Keep Including Website

Keep Teaching: Faculty Senate and Colleague Volunteers

OIT's Fall Technology Updates

Schedule a Technology Consultation with OIT

OIT’s Technology Resources and Recommendations Teaching Synchronously and Asynchronously

Recommendations and Sample Syllabus Language from The Center for Teaching and Learning

August 13, 2020
Staff reports