1/21 – For Faculty: In-Person Learning and Continuity of Education

January 21, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of our policy of providing students with “continuity of education” as we continue to navigate the ongoing realities of COVID-19.

On Monday, we return to campus for in-person instruction with the expectation that student attendance will fluctuate, either because of illness or because of isolation due to close contact. As such, we may have to manage unique situations in which non-trivial numbers of students are out at one time. I ask that you remain flexible and develop a plan to provide students with options that will allow them to make academic progress even when they are out of your classroom. How you choose to ensure continuity of education is a matter for each instructor, and there are no mandates as to how this is achieved. However, you may consider one or more of the following options:

For students required to isolate, provide access to class content by:

  • Streaming lectures;
  • Recording lectures and making them available online;
  • Posting course materials such as lecture notes and handouts to Blackboard or your class website.

For isolating students who need to take tests or exams:

  • Provide accommodations, such as alternative time and place or alternative means of participation such as via Zoom;
  • Use forms of assessment that do not need to be administered to all students at the same time and place, such as take home exams, papers, presentations, etc.

As always, the Center for Excellence in Teaching is available to support your instructional needs.

Please note that graduate programs have the discretion to make their own determinations around continuity of education, especially where there is a need to provide consistent policy across an entire program cohort.

Please also bear in mind that it is not appropriate to request medical excuses or a “doctor’s note” when students miss class. This is institutional policy that supports the appropriate use of healthcare resources, protects student privacy, and removes barriers to self-isolation. 

If you need to temporarily isolate yourself, please move your class online for that period. If you are sick, take time off as you would in regular circumstances. In the event this requires protracted time away, please speak with your department chair or program head about making alternative arrangements for your class.

Please accept my sincere thanks for your deeply-appreciated and ongoing efforts, and all the best for the Spring semester,

Andrew McConnell Stott
Vice Provost for Academic Programs
Dean of the USC Graduate School
Professor of English