University Community

Preparing for Spring Semester 2021 message

The following message was shared with University faculty on Jan. 13, 2021:

Dear colleagues: 

 As you prepare for spring semester, we wanted to provide reminders and updates about the following: 

  • Those policies adopted by the Academic Policy and Process group for fall semester that will continue during spring semester, including the absence policy, the extended incomplete deadline, and final exam recommendations
  • A few additional changes to the spring academic calendar related to advising and registration
  • A schedule of spring semester workshops from the Office of Instructional Innovation 
  • Spring semester COVID-19 testing protocols 

Absence Policy 
As shared in August, the absence policy was updated to address absences caused by students’ infection or exposure to COVID-19. Students who are in in quarantine (due to exposure or awaiting test results) or isolation (due to a confirmed positive test) at the direction of a health care professional or Public Health operations staff or who are symptomatic and believe they might have COVID-19 have a “legitimate absence” as described in the existing absence policy. During fall semester, this policy was further amended to treat absences by students who miss class because they are asked to voluntarily quarantine as part of the recently adopted residence alert system as a legitimate absence.  

Extended Incomplete Deadline 
Incomplete grades issued in fall 2020 will not convert to an F until Friday, April 30 (the last day before the official semester closing date). For undergraduates who were enrolled in a course that was not exempted from the flexible grading option, the F will auto convert to an NC. For all graduate students as well as undergraduates who were enrolled in exempted classes, an I grade that converts to an F will remain an F.

Final Exam Recommendations 
As shared in August, final exam policies have been updated to reflect the number of online courses during the pandemic, including: 

  • The final exam or culminating experience due date must occur during the university defined final exam week. 
  • 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 traditional scheduled exam time if available. See Registrar listing
  • Students will not have to complete more than three finals, exams, or other culminating experiences on the same day. If students have more than three on the same day, they may appeal to the instructor with the exam that is scheduled at the latest time on that day. If there are multiple exams scheduled at the same time, the student should contact the instructor with the highest alpha/numeric course (subject and catalog number). (For example, a student enrolled in MATH 1200, COMS 2050, ART 1141, and NUTR 1000 would contact the NUTR 1000 instructor regarding a new date/time)   

Spring Advising and Registration 
After consulting the Academic Policy and Process group, Spring Curriculum Planning group, and Assistant Deans Council, the Registrar has updated the academic calendar to allow more time for developing the fall 2021 schedule of courses. Course offerings will be available beginning on April 2, advising week will begin on April 5, and fall course registration will open on April 12. As announced last fall, spring break has been cancelled and three wellness days have been added to the spring calendar. The revised spring 2021 academic calendar is available at  

OII Workshops 
The Office of Instructional Innovation will be hosting the following presentation and open forum discussions during the month of January: 

  • Authentic Assessment with Dr. Meg Flanigan and Jody Monk: January 14 at 12 pm
  • Running Effective Discussions with Dr. Meg Flanigan and Mike Dombroski: January 25 at 12 pm

To register, use the following URL:

OII will add workshops throughout spring semester via the link above.  

OII offers an extensive pre-recorded workshop section on the Keep Teaching website:

Additionally, OII, OIT, and the Library will continue to offer one-on-one faculty scheduled consultations and just in time team support:
COVID-19 Testing Protocols 
As you may be aware, all Athens campus and regional campus students are required to take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus and will be required to test regularly after they return. Designated college and regional campus contacts will work with our Public Health/COVID Operations office to manage issues with student compliance.  
If a student discloses that they have tested positive or have been exposed, please submit a COVID Incident Report and the Public Health/COVID Operations team will follow up with the student to ensure their health and wellbeing needs are being met and that other students, faculty, and staff are protected as much as possible. Instructors are not required to monitor compliance and will be contacted by the Public Health/COVID Operations team only if more information is needed. 

Thank you for your participation in COVID 19 testing during fall semester and in anticipation of ongoing voluntary faculty and staff testing during spring semester. As you are aware, spread of COVID continues to increase across the nation, the state, and in each of the counties in which our campuses are located. Concerns about the health of our faculty, staff, students, and communities as well as about the impact on our local health care systems mean we each have to continue to do our part to prevent transmission.  

We know this is a particularly difficult time to prepare for classes, in the midst of the pandemic and in the wake of the riot in our nation’s Capitol. 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


January 13, 2021
Staff reports